The Practice of SolarPunk Futuring
What is your vision of the collective future? Where would you go from here?
We spend, or have to spend, so much time in defense and struggle that we can forget to create a vision of the future we want. So what is the vision of all those interested in a future that is brighter than today?
How many of us find ourselves stuck in the fight mode when we do have those moments of peace, quietude, creation, or collaborative conversation?
I used to get stuck often, and at times I still do. I feel like it’s a trap because it keeps me in defense in moments where what I really have is an opportunity to play offense.
And by offense, I mean, the space create something new, regenerative and necessary. Something that could be a part of a just, sustainable, democratic future. A solarpunk future.
Sourcing from Brazil and spreading internationally, Solarpunk is well defined by Connor Owens, who calls it “a revolt of hope against despair….
“Solarpunk is a rebellion against the structural pessimism in our late visions of how the future will be. Not to say it replaces pessimism with Pollyanna-ish optimism, but with a cautious hopefulness and a daring to tease out the positive potentials in bad situations. Hope that perhaps the grounds of an apocalypse (revelation) might also contain the seeds of something better; something more ecological, liberatory, egalitarian, and vibrant than what came before, if we work hard at cultivating those seeds…”
“Solarpunk’s vision is of an ecological society beyond war, domination, and artificial scarcity; where everything is powered by green energy and a culture of hierarchy and exclusion has been replaced by a culture founded on radical inclusiveness, unity-in-diversity, free cooperation, participatory democracy, and personal self-realization…”
“This would be a world of decentralised eco-cities, 3D printing, vertical farms, solar glass windows, wild or inventive forms of dress and design, and a vibrant cosmopolitan aesthetic; where technology is no longer used to exploit the natural world, but to automate away needless human labour and to help restore the damage the Oil Age has already done. Solarpunk desires societies of polycultural ethnic diversity and gender liberation, where each person is able to actualise themselves in societal environment of free experimentation and communal caring; and driven by an overriding ethos of compassionate rationalism, where science and reason are not seen as antithetical to imagination and spirituality, but as concepts which bring out the best in each other.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I just became a solarpunk.
In the practice of any creative, future-making tradition (solarpunk is far from the only one), there is a certain powerful magic. The past, as it has been said before, has been written by a few victors. The present is a struggle, but the future is different.
The future is unowned.
It is a place we can visit and work from without the stress, rules, or struggles of our current times. It is the ultimate accessible, inspirational co-working space where we can work freely and collaboratively without all the distractions of home. From here, we can specify a bright, just vision, create it however we like, then walk around this futurescape we’ve imagined to see how it ticks.
From that vision of the future, we can turn around and look at our current real-time position and say: “Okay how do we or could we get here [the futurescape] from there [the present]?” Then we, to the best of our abilities, begin building out those answers.
Even if it is just a first step because that step contains the seed.
The power of working backwards from the future is that we can assume the win. The collective win. We can view it from the vantage point of already having achieved it.
In this futurescape, we start first with Vision then make our Plans. We then move back into the present where we detail and carry out our Moves and hold periodic Reviews where we see what we have learned. We check back into our futurescape with regularity to check in with our Vision and Plans and make Adjustments as needed…
We stay flexible all along the way.
Assume from today forward that our collective trajectory is towards a solarpunk future. Assume that the future, although permanently altered and profoundly damaged by the global level of social, economic and environmental injustice that has occurred, gets better.
Assume that we stay the course toward a solarpunk future for the next 100 hundred years.
Now tell me, what do you see?