A month ago, we announced Civil Beat’s first contest for emerging writers. We asked for entries from young writers who have something to say about issues that matter — or should matter — to people in Hawaii.

“Don’t be shy about telling it like it is,” we urged. As bait, we offered prize money: $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third.

Almost immediately, we were emailed by a commenter who asked if he could submit a podcast. That inspired us to open the contest to any and all media formats that we could reproduce on our web site.

And while we didn’t get any entries in the form of videos, graphic novels, interpretive dances or an extended series of animated GIFs, we did receive a wide array of entries (including several podcasts) from people on several of the islands and as far afield as Seoul, South Korea. Amusingly, though our contest was open for a month, we received nearly two-thirds of the entries in the final 12 hours before deadline.

The topics ranged widely: irrational fear of terrorism; the debate over GMOs; whether it’s financially feasible to live in Hawaii; funding for education and the challenges of teaching; the subversion of the ban on plastic bags; the revolution in robotics, and many, many more.

emerging writers winners

We are very encouraged by the thought and effort, and the strong response, to our invitation. After a lot of reading, listening, discussion, re-reading and re-listening, we are very pleased to announce the winners and finalists in our contest:

In first place, Luke Evslin, for his commentary on rational versus irrational fears. Luke, 31, is the co-owner of the Kailua-based outrigger canoe manufacturing company, Kamanu Composites. He says he lives off-grid on Kauai with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and “way too many” ducks and chickens. We are publishing Luke’s column separately today. Here’s a link.

In second place, Jonathan Santiago, for his commentary about his decision to stay on the mainland rather than return to Kaneohe, to his parent’s chagrin. Jonathan, 22, is originally from Kaneohe but is now going to law school at the University of California at Irvine. He says he keeps up to date with what’s happening in Hawaii through reading a variety of Hawaii news media, including Civil Beat.

In third place, Eric Stinton, for his commentary on a day in the life of a special-education teacher in Hawaii. Eric, 27, is a writer and teacher from Kailua. He is a columnist for Sherdog and his writing has also appeared on The Classical. He currently lives in Seoul, and has written Community Voice pieces for Civil Beat.

We will publish Jonathan’s and Eric’s columns Tuesday and Wednesday. In the coming days, we also will publish the columns (and podcast) by our other finalists: Beau Ewan, Kendrick Chang, Colby Lawton, Ekua Impraim and Arthur Wentworth.  In addition, over the next couple of weeks, will will publish some of the other entries in our Community Voices section.

We hope you will enjoy reading and listening to these entries as much as we did.