Solarpunk

The Sun with a punk mohawk shining off it like sun rays and like the petals of sunflower, dandelion, and thistle flowers. The top of the mohawk is pink and the bottom is yellow-brown, suggesting seasons passing, life, death, and decay.

Ultimately Solarpunk envisions a world that might be slower, but more intentional. One that ties humanity closely to the natural world.

A future with a human face and dirt behind its ears.

How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future Right Now (ft. @Andrewism)
How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future Right Now (ft. @Andrewism)

This is Solarpunk. Finding the appropriate technologies to build aesthetically stimulating and liveable dwellings that tie us tightly with the landscape.

How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future Right Now (ft. @Andrewism) – YouTube

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.

SOLARPUNK : A REFERENCE GUIDE. The below was compiled by… | by Jay Springett | Solarpunks | Medium

But what if we imagined something different? What if we imagined worlds where nature, humanity, and technology not only coexist, but thrive together. Worlds that are rich with the greens and blues of abundance. Utopias? Maybe, but certainly utopias worth striving for.

This is what Solarpunk is all about. A burgeoning genre of art and a movement that casts off the dystopian, technology-heavy futurism of cyberpunk and instead tries to build a world wherein people not only live well, but also live well with the natural world.

Solarpunk is an exercise in imagination, but it is also a call to action. There are very real Solarpunk solutions that already exist or are currently feasible that can start to bring about a Solarpunk future today. And today, we’ll look at the viability of some of these solutions and answer the question: how can we build a Solarpunk world right now?

Solarpunk is high and low tech: Before we dive into the promising tools that might aid our quest for a Solarpunk world, we first need to understand the role of technology in the Solarpunk community. As we will soon see, technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future Right Now (ft. @Andrewism) – YouTube
How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future (ft. @OurChangingClimate)

For those out of the loop, solarpunk is on a bit of a spectrum, from pure aesthetic hopeful imagining to actually building our collective futures here and now.

Solarpunk aims to look beyond the limitations of capitalism and beyond the rift between humanity and nature. Most importantly, it’s a project and vision of liberation that we co-create for our unique local conditions, ecosystems, and needs, as we work towards a better society.

Solarpunk isn’t something to be imposed from above, through capitalist ventures or state projects. It’s grassroots, and must incorporate the voices, experiences, and inputs of a wide range of people.

How We Can Build A Solarpunk Future (ft. @OurChangingClimate) – YouTube

And in the late 2000s, the concept of “solarpunk” emerged. YouTube channel Our Changing Climate with Andrewism published an overview of Solarpunk“Ultimately Solarpunk envisions a world that might be slower, but more intentional. One that ties humanity closely to the natural world.” As Andrewism put in the replies: “A future with a human face and dirt behind its ears.”

But if solarpunk is the future with humanity put back in, achieving it means taking control of that future from economic, social, & political forces that seem to be on autopilot to self-destruction, utterly divorced from human desires & human intervention. One path we’ve imagined already, and its grimy survivalist individualism was the defining feature of Reagan-era science fiction classics. However, in its radical reimagination of economic & social structures, solarpunk resists the nihilism & doomerism of the grim dehumanized technological dystopias that dominate the worlds of Blade Runner, Robocop, & William Gibson’s Neuromancer. 

Do we have the willingness to challenge the predominant social, economic, & political structures & systems that need to be challenged? To change the very nature of humanity’s relationship to the planet? What role does education play in all of this? 

Fighting Back Against the Future | Human Restoration Project | Nick Covington Chris McNutt

Solarpunk is a lot of things. Its definitions are still growing, but at its heart, is always about one thing: a vision of a possible future where humanity nature and technology live in harmony beyond the human centric.

Solarpunk worlds are a green, sustainable, and socially just for everyone.

How Solarpunk Fiction Envisions a Better Tomorrow | Video Essay – YouTube
How Solarpunk Fiction Envisions a Better Tomorrow | Video Essay

Solarpunk centers on the outsider and marginalized groups because it must.

Really this is one of the key reasons why we call solar punk, punk, because its very existence fights against our current systems of oppression.

How Solarpunk Fiction Envisions a Better Tomorrow | Video Essay – YouTube

Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial or despair.

Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto | Project Hieroglyph

Solarpunk is a shining vision of a positive future, grounded in our existing world, that emphasizes the need for environmental sustainability, self-governance, and social justice. It’s a movement dedicated to human-centric and eco-centric ends.

What is Solarpunk? – YouTube

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion, and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?”

The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and lush, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid.

Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world ,  but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not only warnings.

Solutions to thrive without fossil fuels, to equitably manage real scarcity and share in abundance instead of supporting false scarcity and false abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share.

Solarpunk is at once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, a way of living and a set of achievable proposals to get there.

A Solarpunk Manifesto (English) – ReDes – Regenerative Design

Solarpunk is a genre of Speculative Fiction that focuses on craftsmanship, community, and technology powered by renewable energy, wrapped up in a coating of Art Nouveaublended with African and Asian aesthetics. It envisions a free and egalitarian world with a slight bend toward social anarchism. Standing as both a reaction to the nihilism of Cyberpunk and a solution to a lot of the problems we face in the world, Solar punk works look toward a brighter future (“solar”) while deliberately subverting the systems that keep that brighter future from happening (“punk”).

The genre was coined on Tumblr in 2014 when a single post swept bloggers into an excited frenzy.

Other aspects of Solarpunk include a quasi-Utopian setting, usually 20 Minutes into the Future, with the occasional Crystal Spires and Togas and even sometimes Beast Men(Biologically/genetically engineered or not) to add weirdness or other unwanted proposed elements. Like the Tumblr community that fostered the genre, Solarpunk also tends to feature a high level of cultural awareness, gender equality, self-expression, and artfulness. Likely to combine lighter and more utopic versions of BiopunkOceanpunk and Skypunk themes, randomly set in the near/far future (rarely in the far past), with realistic (sci-)fantastic elements. Solarpunk works usually believe in Science Is Good, as the marriage of nature and technology is what leads to such a utopic setting.

Compare and contrast with Post-Cyberpunk, which saw the Cyberpunk movement and came to different conclusions. Post-Cyberpunk accepts the world we have and the systems that support it like corporate globalization, industrialization, and exploiting resources in slightly-less-bad ways. Meanwhile, Solar Punk aims to subvert those systems and replace them with ones that work better in the long-term through local communities, supporting artisans, and living sustainably.

Solar Punk – TV Tropes

This is what’s the most important in solarpunk: a community.

What makes a story solarpunk?

  1. Community as protagonist
  2. Infrastructure is sexy
  3. The human environmental context
An Introduction – Solarpunk Prompts

The simple act of having hope for a better future breaks the doom-loop and builds a platform for action. In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents, the main character, Lauren Olamina, digs and leads others to this well of hope amidst climatological and manmade disaster, disruption, and mass death along the American West Coast. Spreading the philosophy of Earthseed, she writes in her Book of the Living: “The destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars.” A different world is possible if we overcome the distortion of our senses and see beyond broken systems. By setting our sights toward something new, we can reveal solutions that already exist today. 

Fighting Back Against the Future | Human Restoration Project | Nick Covington Chris McNutt
Portrait painting of Octavia Butler with plants and flowers in her hair and an illuminated earth around her head like a halo
Portrait of Octavia Butler in a field of red flowers with the sun illuminating her head like a halo
Painting of Octavia Butler looking out over a field of red flowers
We are Earthseed
The life that perceives itself
Changing.

The Book of the Living I – Octavia Butler

Further reading,

Chibi solarpunk sun

Published by Ryan Boren

#ActuallyAutistic retired technologist turned wannabe-sociologist. Equity literate education, respectfully connected parenting, passion-based learning, indie ed-tech, neurodiversity, social model of disability, design for real life, inclusion, open web, open source. he/they