This post is a collation of responses I've received to my question, what does a solarpunk future look like? I've also added some photos to help express solarpunk ideas visually. This collection explores present, near, and distant futures. Some have a creative angle, others more practical. I hope you find them as engaging and inspiring as I have.
Photo 1: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Lush tropical gardens with tall futuristic looking structures that kind of look like space-age tree trunks.
MoreHuman: Correspondence of a solarpunk future, fictionalization from the world as it appears in 2019, having taken anarchist directions I personally find plausible. It's currently thirty eight years after the revolution... read more...
Cathal: Something I've always wanted to see was a world where we can have our cake of high technology, and eat it without environmental or economic guilt, too. For me for several years, this meant trying to build off-grid, DIY-scale, "peer to peer" genetic engineering technology. I've always felt if farmers could "Hack their own crops" there would be less mistrust of the technology itself, and more focus on the issue of "Intellectual Property".
F1shcake: Boat cities!!!!! powered by the sun and the waves. Bioluminecense!!!
Photo 2: Tonle Sap Lake K, Cambodia. Chong Kneas the floating village - Buddhist temple.
scottishwobbly: Co-operative farming & community gardens/garden cities with common land rights for everyone to grow their own food. Direct (rather than representative) democracy over every aspect of the economy and manufacturing. A general emphasis on a shift towards federalised, more local council style government.
Anon: Maximum accessibility, prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable. A society with its roots in compassion and cooperation. Accessible transportation can be pedal cabs and donkey carts (or your local equivalent). Maximum support for the disabled, chronically ill, children, and elders is what i’m picturing. Every city would be unique but i think following some basic principles like this would take humanity in the right direction.
Photo 3: Solarpunk flag by Starwall. The yellow of the flag represents the solar power portion of the solarpunk movement, and the green represents sustainability. The half-gear symbolizes a reclaiming of technology for sustainable projects and infrastructure, and the sunbeams represent the hopefulness and futurism of the solarpunk movement.
Gwenfar's Garden: Our streets will no longer by dominated by cars. Public transport, cycling and walking (or rolling if you're in a scooter/wheelchair!) will prevail.
Anon: I'd like to see diversity in housing styles: cozy apartments, cabins, bigger houses, for every possible preference, given that people could still prefer one style over others when capitalist made up scarcity is over. Also, a public housing system with spare houses in every region for nomad lifestyles, so people can live traveling or spend one year or two in a far away place. For example, artists could enjoy many different kinds of landscapes to inspire their work if they can travel as much as they want and for longer times, and our current tourism model doesn't allow that (besides being unsustainable).
Photo 4: BedZED, London. Completed in 2002, this is the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use sustainable community comprises 100 homes, office space, a college and community facilities.
Jasper: Cargo pods, aerial ropeways, trolley buses/trucks, lowering speeds and DIY solar (heat)collectors.
Tales from our EV Studio and Commando Jugendstil have written a post on Our Solarpunk Cities. They see solarpunk as an organic blend of traditional practices and high-tech put in service of social and environmental justice. Being city folks, they have mostly focused their imagination on the urban environment. Read more...
InvaderXan: I can sum it up with one word. Harmony. And, to elaborate a little, blurring of artificially imposed boundaries. Harmony between technology and environment. Harmony between society and nature. Harmony between people of all kinds. Coexistence.
A nice little real world example if this blurring of boundaries is the fact that solar energy production and beekeeping can apparently coexist quite nicely. Beekeepers, Bolton Bees, use the land surrounding solar panels as pollinator friendly spaces, using the same land space to plant flowers, keep beehives, and produce honey. This is the kind of thing I find very appealing!
Photo 5: A family in Tarialan, Mongolia has a yurt and uses a solar panel mixing older and newer technologies.
scottishwobbly: Consider the now classic Solarpunk images of forest cities, for instance. I like to imagine a world where city planning and forestry are essentially the same task. Having some sort of green railway infrastructure (again run by direct democracy - service issues by popular vote, labour issues by worker vote) to connect communities, ideally to the extent at which owning a car becomes obsolete.
Puffinux: I think proper labelling of packaging stating what it's made from along with a general change in packing so everything is 100% recyclable (and simple to separate the different materials) would be a good start. Also, the end user cost of a product is just one way to categorise it. Proper labelling with ecological impact, water/energy use etc should be put in place. They did it with nutrition content, why not go further? I'm not looking too far to the future because I feel that way you lose sight of the little changes required here and now.
For instance, a cup of coffee uses 160 litres of water to produce, while a pair of jeans uses 2,300 litres. But a single hamburger is 2,900 litres! There's nothing on the packaging to say this, and generally nothing on the companies' websites either. And this is only one facet of the energy/resources overconsumption crisis of the West. If it said on the packaging that the water used in the production of the hamburger you're about to tuck in to could have fully hydrated a child every day for 2 years, perhaps people would stop automatically reaching for the "easy" option. The purpose is not to guilt-trip people into certain habits, but to make the information more obvious. There is so much information freely available all the time these days that the most valuable thing we can provide is our attention. Turning it to advertisements diverts it from real issues.
Photo 6: The first Women Barefoot Solar Engineers of Mauritania are installing solar panels in their villages. These African women trained for 6 months at the Barefoot College of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India. They earn an income paid by the people in their village for maintaining the solar-powered lighting systems that they install for each house in the village.
Puffinux: Reimagining cities is all very well, but they've already been built a certain way. Sure, new builds can implement different processes, but we're not about to knock down the cities and move in a different direction. Improving and modifying what's already there is the only reasonable option.
Photo 7: Solarpunk/anarchist flag by socalledunitedstates. The black half represents anarchism, the green half represents environmentalism, and the sun is a reference to the solar part of solarpunk
Sergei: My solarpunk future has plants everywhere and everyone being taught how to grow things, as well as craft make and repair and take care of tools and buildings and the like. It is also accessible: we do not all have the same abilities, and our worth is not to be measured by what we can produce: not everyone can work in the fields, but everyone can learn how to care for a plant. I want access to knowledge and the understanding that we are all different. We should all work with the land rather than on it, and that goes with going back to native species. So many plants are being imported and moved into new ecosystems even though we can't control the effect they'll have on native fauna and flora, and so many native plants are forgotten while they have so much to teach us, so I want us to focus on that. Also, there shall be no borders and no restrictions to people's freedom of movement.
Photo 8: Tyres gardens in rural Haiti. Used car tyres that have been turned into planters, growing a mix of edibles. They are on a raised platform so they aren’t so affected by flooding, and are more accessible.
Sergei: My solarpunk future will also be queer. Gender is a burden for too many of us, and should only be kept by those who find it helpful or comforting, never to be applied to others our sexuality should never put us in danger, nor be tolerated as long as it is not shown diversity and differences have to be treasured and nurtured we have much to learn from each other, and I want us to learn one thing first: respect.
Do you have any ideas you'd like to add? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Note: due to formatting limitations on Plume, photo/image credits are listed here (in order of appearance):
- Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Credit Robert Glod
- Tonle Sap Lake K, Cambodia. Credit Daniel Mennerich
- Solarpunk flag design by Starwall
- BedZED, London. Credit Tom Chance
- Yurt and solar panel, Tarialan, Mongolia. Credit Eskinder Debebe
- Women Barefoot Solar Engineers of Mauritania. Credit Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia
- Solarpunk/anarchist flag. Credit socalledunitedstates
- Tyre gardens in rural Haiti. Credit Unitarian Universalist Service Committee