Defining Solarpunk

Door Unlocks

Yesterday I purchased my domain name.  In the process, I spoke with a pretty nice fellow by the name of Devunti.  He was helping me choose the right plan for migration and set up of my permanent author site when he asked me what kind of work I did.

Door Cracks Open

For the first time in my career, I immediately answered: I’m a writer. With that statement, the magnitude of influence a writer could cultivate became undeniably clear to me. When Devunti expressed curiosity over what kind of writing I produced, I found myself enthusiastically describing the idea of solarpunk.  And the more I spoke of the concepts and ideology, the more Devunti wanted to know.  That’s how great ideas spread and take root.

Door Swings Wide

Morguefile photo by DeduloPhotos
Morguefile photo by DeduloPhotos

That conversation reminded me that solarpunk is still a relatively unknown concept.  And according to Devunti, “This is a really important idea, why am I just now hearing about it?” Yes it is, and why, indeed?  So let me give a little rundown of what solarpunk is and why, as Devuniti stated,  it’s “really important.”

Possibly the prettiest definition I’ve heard of solarpunk is this: Solarpunk identifies with a new ecologically positive, futuristic speculative movement that stresses a vision of a positive future with positive outcomes.  This is a  future that sits beyond scarcity and need.  It is an existence where hierarchy is shunned for a collective good.  It is a future where our species is reintroduced to the natural world, while technology is remanded to purposes which further humankind’s needs on a whole, and remains ecologically green.

For me, solarpunk is a rejection of the historically dystopian outlook that science fiction has embraced – it’s the candle that brings light into a room being overrun with dark, apocalyptic ruin and frightening speculation for our species’ future.  It blocks the path of self-fulfilling “doomsday” prophecy and instead offers a new approach. It is, in its simplest terms: Hope.

Image attribution: YoWorld.com
Image attribution: YoWorld.com

Humans are unique in their critical thinking abilities and skillful innovation.  Most of the innovations that solarpunk envisions – renewable energy, ecologically sound agriculture that includes rooftop gardens in urban areas, and a strong push in science education to name just a few – are already fully attainable.  We have gained the knowledge and built the technology to reach most of these, but we don’t apply it.  Worse, we don’t encourage the creativity needed to continue moving in an ecologically sound, positive direction. Solarpunk wants to change that.

“…while the future might be an overwhelming prospect, it doesn’t have to be frightening, and it doesn’t have to hurt.” – RoAnna Sylva

Science fiction has shown a historically consistent ability to shape society’s perspective of what the future may look like.  And those who read science fiction are shown to be young, educated, and politically and socially active – all key traits found in those who will, ultimately, shape our future (Somin). When we step back and look at the influence science fiction has over what challenges our society may face in the future,  we begin to see how influential and important the idea of solarpunk can be.

Writing science fiction that focuses on pieces of our future that are heavily rooted in solarpunk ideology is a powerful way to reach out and spread a positive, hopeful message. Science and technology do not have to be enemies to the natural world – in fact, when the two work together, wonderful things can happen.

Before I go, take a look at this Kickstarter page that not only outlines the definition of the term solarpunk and eco-speculation, but also contains an informative video by project creators Bronte Wieland and Phoebe Wagner. It’s a nice way to hear what others are saying about solarpunk and how they’re spreading its message.

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation

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What do you think about solarpunk? Is it a concept you can get behind? Do you have any ideas of your own that you’d like to share?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Sources:

Somin, Ilya. “The politics of science fiction.” WashingtonPost.com. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/04/29/the-politics-of-science-fiction/>.

Sylva, RoAnna. “Solarpunk: We are Golden, and Our Future is Bright.” SciFiIdeas.com. N.p., 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. <http://www.scifiideas.com/writing-2/solarpunk-we-are-golden-and-our-future-is-bright/>.

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