Teton County is celebrating its 100th anniversary of incorporation this year. The News&Guide and Teton County Library recently hosted a writing contest for people to envision what Jackson Hole would look like in 100 years. Here are excerpts from some winners.
Teton County Utopia, 2121
By Den Binderup
Everything in the valley is healthier now.
Small recuperative chain reactions set in motion at the beginning of Teton County’s second century have gathered speed and expanded exponentially.
When the fences fell, ancient migration routes re-opened, allowing animals to find their own food in traditional locations year-round. Pronghorns now move freely over vast distances, with nothing to slow their speed as they continue to outrun the ghosts of their long-extinct predators.
As the last remaining jaw traps snap shut and rust, the badgers, bobcats, and even outcast wolverines flourish and expand their domains. Elk on the Town Square are joined by the occasional lone bull bison or small grazing herds of feral horses. Foxes tiptoe freely through abandoned yards, supplementing meals of abundant rodents with side dishes from leftover vegetable gardens.
The humans had gone, not with a bang or even with much of a whimper. They simply took the last of the novel virus mutations to bed with them. In backyards and on ranches, the dogs woke up; the humans didn’t. After a short period of confusion about unfilled bowls, those pets that could get out became either part of the diet or gene pool of the valley’s wild canines. Their offspring would be called wolfdogs or coydogs if words still existed, which they don’t. All the animals, from crickets to cougars to bears, are free to be only what they are, free of expectations and personification brought on by the bestowing of names the humans used to find cute. The wilderness that was once called Teton County continues on, un-named, un-chained, and completely in control of its own fierce balance.
A Manifesto for the Beautiful Struggle
By Sue Muncaster
After years of pandemics, climate crisis, civil war, and suicides
the food stopped growing, the oil stopped flowing,
and the sky darkened under a blood moon.
The earth wept.
The animals spoke.
The people had become soft
languishing in technological wonders
and addictions to false joy.
But the Tetons stood tall
and the people who loved them organized.
They turned to Shoshoni and Arapahoe elders,
to farmers and ranchers,
to teachers and survivalists,
to the women and children,
to the mountain guides,
to their intuitive dogs and horses,
to the native animals and plants,
to the spirits of the adventurers who died here,
to their troll and the fairies and sprites who came out of the woods, and
to the storms and the stars and the moon.
Everyone agreed to a tax in human effort —
heroic acts across the community
daily choices to serve others.
Junk food and plastic were rare, the recycling center grew
the dump overgrew with larkspur.
The sick never went uncared for,
the differently abled found meaning,
the elderly were kept engaged and active
they buried and burned the dead without chemicals
regenerating the circle of life for eternity.
Connection replaced consumerism,
purpose replaced profits,
sustainability replaced selfishness,
the workers were no longer simply inputs.
They met the present with an open mind
and as the earth healed, they healed themselves
Visitors returned home, inspired to share what they learned.
The environment no longer their personal domain
they always gave more than they took.
Feb. 1, 2121 Speech by Governor Sheila Lonewolf
by Roger P. Stewart
People in 2021 would find it inconceivable that Jackson is now Wyoming’s largest city and the principal driver of revenue for the state. It has become an international destination for year-round recreation and health with a town population of 100,000 and an MSA population of 250,000 including surrounding communities in Idaho.
Our current population fits into an area not much larger than what Jackson was then. Three-story buildings with zero lot lines and retail on the ground level now predominate most of the town, whereas in the past a great deal of land was consumed in parking, yards, and space between buildings. Parking is now in strategically located garages outside of town, where our autonomous vehicles store themselves and charge overnight, which gives our community the unique walkable, European feel that the world envies now.
Global warming initially impacted the ski industry quite severely and there was a time when some wondered if it would survive. The snow level retreated to higher elevations such that it was nearly impossible to maintain snow at the base of the mountain. The big move that really put Jackson on the world stage was when they merged with Grand Targhee to create the world’s largest and finest high-altitude ski resort.
One of the things that made that merger effective, was the tunnel that now connects Jackson with Driggs. Connecting with Idaho created a much more economically sustainable community. Everything in Jackson became much more affordable once the tunnel opened.
It was also essential to build the tunnel once the spaceport was completed in Driggs. Some of you may recall how that was a hard fight between Driggs and Jackson over the location of the spaceport, but Driggs won out over environmental concerns with Teton National Park and the length of runways they could support. We now take for granted how the Spaceport has made Jackson accessible from any point on the planet in a matter of hours. Our grandparents often took days to get here from other parts of the world!
Assignment to the Netherworld
By Yves Desgouttes
Twenty minutes ago, I stepped out of the vertical landing aircraft at Alpine International Airport. I rented a hydrogen-powered hovercraft and I am about to crest a hill called Red Top. On my left I can see sentries in their light armored vehicle guarding the Elon Musk training center for commercial astronauts. Proceeding north the majestic peaks of the Teton Range prompt me to catch my breath.
Snow resorts had to move north due to the scarcity of snowfalls in the Lower 48. The marvel of the landscape is in full display. I can see the flat riverbed of the Snake River. The structures of takeoff towers for the shuttles going to the moon and Mars make for a weird contrast with the pristine nature. They seem to be an anomaly, an eye sore.
Fifty years ago the “Hole” had entered in its final stage to become a refuge for the ultra-rich of the United States and the world. It was divided in holdings which are self-sufficient on every aspect. There are 80 to 100 of them. The number of those large estates had been decided after a council of owners. Their size ranges from 75 to 1,000 acres.
Each domain is wholly self-sufficient. They exist without relying on any services from the region. Each property is autonomous. Plumbers, electricians, cyber experts, cooks, cleaning staff, gardeners, maintenance crews, security platoons, fire units, medical facilities, aerial transportation personnel, mechanicians, vehicles squad, entertainment artist and creators. Private tuition for youths is the norm, and the teachers live in the estates; there is no school campus as such due to the fact that the population of children is small.