Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.
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. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).
the two most influential things I did last year was watch this short film and read Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us.
What is obvious at present is that the Left no longer considers its outside. The trauma that the election of Trump occasioned in so many Leftist communities could be (and was) articulated as a Cthulhic trauma: “the unthinkable has happened — now what?”
Very small but potent images of American ruin I saw today: Sad little mutant in a MAGA hat. A ballerina in a black leotard and skirt twirling. When I caught sight of her face I saw that she was wearing a surgical mask. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but there’s a sense of real ruin in America. Not just Trump or Obama or whatever nonsense, or even the state of the economy, but something deeper. It’s exciting and nauseating, like coming home after a break in and feeling the sense that some other presence has come and gone.