034 :: “Dirt Behind Our Ears” : On Solarpunk and the Need for New Futures

I was asked to submit a talk to a big conference over in Berlin in May to talk about Solarpunk and what it’s like to have been involved in the genre from the very beginning as an admin over on solarpunks.net​. I found out last week that it wasn’t accepted, but some other solarpunks were – I posted this to tumblr already but it won’t ever have any google juice there so x-posting here for wider archives as is my tradition.

I’m posting my talk proposal below as it’s the first time that I’ve ever really written something on Solarpunk despite being involved for so long. Some of the wording and phrasing as become important to me especially the lines about not being able to speak for other solarpunks.

“Dirt Behind Our Ears” : On Solarpunk and the Need for New Futures

500 Char Public Thesis – ~ 75 Words

Give a short and catchy idea about your main argument. This text will be used publicly once your session is accepted, so it’s worth proofreading it.

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?”.

The future does not passively ‘arrive’ fully formed  from the aether, we must first meet it the way humanity has always done: though dreams, stories and song. This session will cover the story of the nascent genre of solarpunk and the communities attempts to ‘remake our present and future history’.

2000 Char Description – ~ 300 Words

Please describe what your session is about, how you want to proceed and what methods you are going to use. Be clear and check orthography and grammar. This text will be used publicly once your session is accepted, so it’s worth proofreading it.

The emerging science fictional genre and aesthetic of “solarpunk” begins with ‘Infrastructure as a form of resistance’.

In 2014 the EIA, CIA, & World Bank published a graph charting the falling cost of solar energy and titled it ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’. The upcoming 21st Century shift toward clean energy opens the future to an age of ‘innovative dissent’.

But we don’t see terror in this future. Solarpunk envisions a world where the drastic technological shift towards renewables and decentralisation empowers movements for social justice and economic liberation. It attempts to foster a socio-cultural environment which emphasises individual autonomy, consent, unity-in-diversity, with the free egalitarian distribution of power. It creates a multitude of spaces for indigenous sovereignties, reproductive justice, and radical queer politics. Of course with these principles comes polyphony, one cannot speak for other solarpunks, only be in dialogue and occasional chorus with them. Some solarpunks recognize it was a great tragedy that the alternate historical genre of steampunk was not decolonial to its core from its inception. Others call for the recognition of rights for the ‘non-human’: trees, rivers and mountains. And technologists building decentralised P2P social networks are doing so under a solarpunk banner. The genre provides a rich soil of ideas and action from which our struggles en route to a better world can grow.

This session will briefly explore the history of the genre, some of its central themes and principles and offer a present that can help us begin to see a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears.

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