The world seems to have wandered into unending gloom and doom at the moment. The UK’s political chaos, the world’s descent into intolerant hate, the ignored urgency of the climate emergency… and the weather has turned damp and dank (as April tends to do). Media and movies paint a dystopian picture of our future and it often seems as though there’s no point in getting out of bed.

Damp dandelion clock
The dandelion can be a symbol of rebellion

Solarpunk is an antidote to the dark and despair. It began as a sub-set of the sci-fi literary genre, injecting light and hope into visions of the future that are fuelled by renewable energy and kindness. But in contrast to its cousins – cyberpunk, steampunk and more – the solarpunk focus on the practical and possible has broken it out of books and into reality.

Solarpunk is still quite amorphous and undefined, and my friend Gwenfar’s Garden has done a great post with a round-up of resources which describe and define solarpunk for anyone wanting to learn more.

Eden Project biodomes
The Eden Project: living solarpunk

“You may ask what exactly is meant to be “punk” about what a cynic might see as the lovechild of hippies and futurists. After all, isn’t punk meant to denote anger and rage at the “the system”, as well as black leather and spikey hair? Punk is more of an ethos than a specific set of signifiers, implying rebellion against, and negation of, the dominant paradigm and everything repressive about it. So in that sense, in a world being torn apart by a planetary system based on avarice and power-lust and ecocide, solarpunk might be the most “punk” movement of all.”
Barrel furniture

“What differentiates a solarpunk from an ecosexual, or an ecofeminist technopagan, or an eco-afrofuturist or even a permaculturist? Or, indeed, other colourfully clad, politically oriented utopian movements?

Similarities abound, but the focus on the cultural change that will necessarily accompany the full transition to renewable energy is the defining feature of solarpunk.”

Solarpunk is art and culture, architecture and landscape, people and politics. It is a way of envisioning a different future – a positive, hopeful and achievable future.

Solarpunk is: the Keralan metro that is staffed by 80% women, which has breastfeeding pods equipped with a seat, fan, and phone charging point that are open to non-customers. 35% of its energy comes from solar power, and more than 200 of its station pillars have been turned into vertical gardens with the use of compost made from municipal waste. It’s a wonderful story, you should click through and read it.

Solarpunk is: the Vietnamese climbing frame library, which that uses solar-powered aquaponics to grow vegetables, koi carp and chickens. Books, plants, water and chickens. I think they may have managed to include all my favourite things. I am moving to Vietnam.

Green wall
A living wall, at Kent University

Solarpunk is: a Detroit non-profit that’s buying up vacant lots and turning them into honey bee farms.

Solarpunk is: Idle Women, who are creating a fully accessible medicine garden designed and co-created entirely by women. You should click through on that one and vote for them to get their funding!

“The solarpunk environmental movement is for anyone who’s digitally inclined but unafraid of dirt. Think post-apocalyptic hacker aesthetics, but with a sunnier disposition.”

Goodreads has a list of Solarpunk books – fiction and non-fiction – if you want to know more. Dive in – the future’s lovely!

Sunflowers at Wisley