What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk as an Art & Lit Genre

Solarpunk began as a speculative fiction genre and art classification and has since become a social movement. Solarpunk aesthetic, art, and literature envision a utopian-like future where humans have not only avoided complete environmental disasters but created a world that is bright, green, and fertile. In the Solarpunk aesthetic, nature lives alongside advanced technology.

In contrast to Cyberpunk, which exists in a dystopian future, Solarpunk is hopeful and solution based. The name Solarpunk refers to a persona and people that use renewable energy sources such as solar power in a rebellion against capitalistic, exploitative, and extractive systems. The ‘Punk’ part of the title refers to anarchist ideals, such as radical self-reliance and responsibility.

Art speaks directly to the subconscious, and Solarpunk art hopes to install a harmonious future into our collective consciousness as a possibility and inevitability.

What is Solarpunk? Anything that brings about a better, more fair world.

Read curated Solarpunk literature and explore art in our magazine or in our Activator community page.

Solarpunk As a Movement

The Solarpunk social movement promotes and propagates anything that brings the Solarpunk ideals to life. Its goal is to achieve a Solarpunk world within our lifetime and avoid the looming environmental catastrophes that threaten life as we know it.

The Solarpunk tenants include lifecycle thinking, prioritizing health over profit, honoring indigenous ways and wisdom, equality and inclusiveness, cooperative economics, regenerative agriculture, clean and renewable energy, the utilization of advanced technology, eco-building and architecture, decentralized government, and more.


Lifecycle Thinking

Lifecycle thinking is a framework that considers all sides of a process or product to assess its environmental, social, and economic impacts. Using this way of thinking, product developers consider what raw materials and processes are involved in the creation, use, and disposal of a product. By examining the impacts of raw material extraction, material processing, transportation, distribution, consumption, reuse/recycling, and disposal, lifecycle thinking seeks to produce products that are better for the earth in each category and each phase of its life.

In the Solarpunk World, human problems exist but are navigated through the honoring of each individual’s rights and the sacredness of the Earth. Humans recognize themselves as stewards of the land, rather than conquerors of it. Humanity prioritizes the health of the Earth and its inhabitants over profit. The SolarPunk Society recognizes that true wealth IS health. Healthy medical, social, and food systems will lead to healthy individuals and healthy individuals will, in turn, create more healthy systems.


Honoring Indigenous Ways

Solarpunk literature and art illustrate how humans can revere, uplift, and integrate the symbiotic ways of indigenous peoples while utilizing technology to solve today’s problems. It recognizes that we can’t simply go back to the way it was when humans lived as one with nature. The only way out of our current climate crisis is through—and that requires drawing upon the incredible technology we’ve acquired in the past hundred years.


Equality & Inclusiveness

In a SolarPunk Society, all citizens are born with the same rights and privileges. All religions are honored as long as they don’t inflict harm, and indigenous spiritual wisdom is welcomed rather than suppressed or appropriated. The Solarpunk World is also one of radical inclusiveness – marginalization of any individual or group does not align with the Solarpunk ideology. Solarpunk citizens who would be seen by our current society as ‘disabled’ are empowered with technology that enables them to navigate society, cities, and life with ease. Buildings and public spaces are equipped with technology to make them accessible for everyone and schools have technology that enables every student to learn in the way that suits them.


Cooperative Economics

Cooperative economics is a field of economics that utilizes cooperative structures to produce a stable economic system that doesn’t rely on competition and unlimited growth, like capitalism. It’s a form of state-less socialism, as it doesn’t look to the government to control its workings. The International Cooperative Alliance has provided these 7 cooperative principles:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership (in contrast to coerced/involuntary participation)
  2. Democratic Member Control (in contrast to nondemocratic control)
  3. Member Economic Participation (in contrast to purely transactional relationships and closed-book management)
  4. Autonomy and Independence (in contrast to state-owned or corporate-ownership)
  5. Education, Training, and Information (in contrast to “Mushroom management” where workers are “kept in the dark,” and information is intentionally funneled through power channels)
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives (in contrast to competition amongst firms)
  7. Concern for Community (in contrast to purely product or profit-oriented concerns)


Reduction of Personal Ownership

In the spirit of cooperative economics, Solarpunks share resources. Things such as vehicles, tools, computers, and more are pooled for community benefit and use. The idea behind this is to reduce waste, reduce the number of products made, increase productivity, and ultimately bring about a higher quality of life for the largest amount of people.


Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a cornerstone of the Solarpunk ideal. A Solarpunk farmer cultivates land in a way that preserves the vitality of the soil and therefore provides true nourishment to those who eat from that land while guaranteeing food security for all. Regenerative agriculture often emulates nature in its diversity and ecosystems.


Clean & Renewable Energy

Solarpunk looks to renewable and clean energy sources to power our cities. Some of these sources are in use now, others are awaiting creative and innovative minds to discover them. Solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal energy, and more are utilized to produce clean, renewable power. The products used in extracting this energy have been produced using lifecycle thinking.


Utilizing Advanced Tech

The Solarpunk world relies on advanced technology to solve human problems and bring about fair living conditions for all. This tech is imagined as anything from flying cars and holographic control systems, to prosthetic limbs and personal protection devices. Solarpunk ideals do stress that personal ownership is reduced, so although a SolarPunk Society relies on technology, devices that can be utilized by many people, are often shared in a community.


Decentralized Government

Decentralized government comes in many forms and factions, but the underlying structure shifts decision-making responsibilities from a central authority to citizens and local government. This structure helps to maximize inclusivity and economic stability in each region.

Anyone can be a Solarpunk. The only requirement is a desire for a better world. 

Solarpunk Manifesto

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