Note — Mar 20, 2022

Solarpunk: A Container for More Fertile Futures

In this piece written for the launch issue of Solarpunk Magazine, Jay Springett reviews the foundational ideas of the movement, why it exists, what it aims to foster, and some of the most important aspects of this growing wave of “practical utopiasm.” If you don’t know about Solarpunk, this is the intro to read and refer to, if you are a Solarpunk, it’s one of the pieces to send to friends, and an excellent articulation of why we need it.

The article is also quite extensively linked, so explore from there, and I’d encourage you to pay specific attention to the part about “cultural fracking,” which is a fantastic lens not only in this context, but in anything having to do with popular culture, especially movies.

Under the logic of media produced by narrative monopolies, it is costly to risk money on a new idea. Instead it’s safer to simply mine the past for new material. I call this “cultural fracking,” a phenomenon described by solarpunk author Andrew Dana Hudson as “the capitalist process of endlessly extracting new value out of the sedimentary layers of meaning that comprise mass culture from the past.” […]

solarpunk is -punk because it stands in opposition to the increasingly mainstream position that we live in a world with no future. […]

Solarpunk worlds depict curated landscapes: hillside agroforestry in keyline rows, rain gardens and revitalised suburbs undergoing sprawl repair. These aren’t products of far-fetched technological leaps. Instead, they are a collection of ideas pulled laterally from the world as it exists today (or that were historically overlooked) and projected forward, everywhere. Its aesthetic emerges from real world praxis, from recovered agency. […]

Solarpunk is a narrative strategy for creating this feeling of a speculative present—a present in which we plumb the depths of the imagination for better possibilities at whatever scale—in the minds of people who encounter it.