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Monday, April 20, 2015

If you're not a Solarpunk, you're missing out

Art of OC in a Solarpunk setting by T.X. Watson
Earth Day is this Wednesday, and it's more important than ever to pay attention to what's going on in our environment to ensure that humankind gets to live on -- and live on in an ethical and comfortable way. And what's a better way to celebrate Earth Day than acting like a punk?

No, seriously. Act like a punk -- a Solarpunk.

SF writing has seen a couple of different manifestations of punk, like Cyberpunk and Steampunk, but the new emerging form of punk, and the one most relevant to what is going on, is Solarpunk.

So, what's so cool about being punk?

Punk is rejecting oppressive systems, and punk is working to deconstruct and rebuild in unconventional but beneficial ways.

In the mainstream, punk is often represented as a bunch of angry white people breaking stuff (disclosure: I'm white), but that's not the type of punk I'm into or talking about.

Solarpunk is about is breaking stuff, but it's breaking down harmful institutions and ideology, not causing violence and harm for the sake of some privileged, temper-tantrum vogue. 

Solarpunk is also interesting because it's about rebuilding with materials that are already available -- turning waste and harm into beauty and art. It's a reaction to the damage perpetuated under late capitalism.

Solarpunk: Notes towards a manifesto by Adam Flynn is a good start if you're looking to learn about Solarpunk. It's still in development, the world-building is in its beginning stages, but everyone is very enthusiastic. I want to outline some points the almost-manifesto makes.

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial 
or despair. 

 Cyberpunk and Steampunk were in primarily dystopian settings-- there wasn't much room for hope, and it was more about survival the renewal. Solarpunk promises a future not present in the other major punks, and allows for a lot of freedom in the writing and world-building to imagine long-term solutions and future communities. Sustainable punk, if you will.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance.

This calls back to my point about rebuilding as a form of resistance. A friend, fellow blogger and Solarpunk, T.X. Watson, whose original Solarpunk artwork is shared in the photo attached to this post (they're actually the one who got me into Solarpunk), illustrated this idea well in a tumblr post:

I keep seeing people asking ‘is solarpunk really punk?’ because it’s too happy and optimistic and stuff 
and I’m picturing a perfect moment in a solarpunk community — the neighbourhood mayor standing with a shit-eating grin on her face when the cops come and cut them off from city power, and nothing turns off.

It's undermining the system by building your own, which is a beautiful thing.

To follow T.X. Watson's Solarpunk blog and find other Solarpunks, link here. I also contribute to this blog.

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