tbh i find solarpunk kind of naive and self-congratulatory but at the same time it’s tremendously hopeful and also i’m super weak to art noveau aesthetic, so why not! i’m really interested in if this is going to go anywhere or just be one more quick little n-punk fad.
this reminds me of the thing I’ve been wondering about for a while: the thing about solarpunk is that it doesn’t seem to be very, well, punk. Now I am the furthest thing from an expert on this, I am just bouncing shit around, but I always thought that cyberpunk/steampunk/whateverpunk required a certain amount of bitterness about the society you were in, a certain amount of scraping by on the scraps and the edges. Illicit scraps of power. Hackers teasing bits of truth from the terrifying datanets of the world. Urchins in waistcoats picking pockets and fleeing through the tunnels under the roaring steam-engines. Wrestling what you can from a world that other people have used up, a world that doesn’t want you.
And a huge part of solarpunk, or solar’punk’ - and I think a big part of why people are picking it up - is that none of that is there. It’s a world in renewal, a world expanding its bounty out towards the edges, a world where you can sidle in and sit under the vines and breathe, no matter what you’re looking for. And, don’t get me wrong, that is refreshing as shit. Recent dystopian trends have left me hungry for hopeful futures, and apparently I’m not the only one. But it makes me question the punk part. It’s more solarworld, solarfuture, but those aren’t recognizable Things, and it’s easier to convey an idea when you tie it to a Thing.
Like I said, I’m no expert, but I’ve been thinking about how I’d go about adding the punk-ish element back in (and, really, as I said, I like the extant solarpunk; this is about an alternate version in line with the name, not about “”“fixing”“” anything). I’m imagining little treasured hoards of plants on windowsills and fire escapes, people punching holes in tin cans and carrying them around for days to fill them up with little scrapes of fertile dirt, and balancing them on take-out trays for planters. Hiding them from landlords who don’t want plants in their buildings, bringing in bugs - growing them anyway, damn the landlords. Kids spraypainting graffiti made up of swirls and arches and bright soft greens, because all the walls have thirty years of neon spikes on them already. Women and girls who don’t like the way their curvy-chubby bodies look in pinching skintight jeans and high-tech jumpsuits that make it hard to breathe, so they say “screw it” and and sew together loose floaty drape-y things that look kind of strange at first, while they’re still figuring this out, but they don’t crush your stomach into your gut and you can move easily up and down the stairs when the elevator is broken and in the boiling humid heat of summer you can feel the breeze flow by you and swirl up your skirt. Someone reads a magazine article about outrageously rich people throwing “vitamin banquet” dinner parties, and how to throw a similar party on the affordable and reasonable budget of twice what she pays in rent each month, and when she mentions it to her landlord in the hall on Tuesday the landlord jokes about opening up the roof for a Vitamin D party, since that’s free, and then somehow the idea takes off and everyone on the block has rooftop sunshine potlucks on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, or sometimes Mondays or Wednesdays so the people who work the weekend shifts can make it. Everyone’s favorite science project is “make a solar-powered charger” so you can get your teacher to help you build something that’ll charge your phone or your game or whatever; some teachers catch on and make that a science unit, argue with the budget committees and shell out from their own pocket to buy the materials so the kids can do that, hope to God that this’ll convince at least a few of the kids that school is sometimes useful. Some clever entrepreneur selling sunshine tea by the sidewalk in a slow cart, carefully dodging various restrictions because there’s no actual electronic heating involved, just a few big jars and the daylight. People sneaking a little rebirth in around the edges of the world, instead of fighting for the table scraps. Maybe this is what your grandma, your great-grandmother, remembers, if you live in an original-flavor solarpunk future. Maybe this is how that got to be that way.