The PR BlogPR TrendsCultural MovementsLooking for a Brighter Future? Solarpunk is the Answer

Looking for a Brighter Future? Solarpunk is the Answer

Let's imagine a better future for humanity.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

Can we communicate a brighter future? Solarpunk is the answer.

Likely first mentioned in 2008, solarpunk is a utopian expression of a sustainable and environmentally-friendly future.

The trend is about a future where we use solar power to create a more equitable and resilient world.

But the trend goes way beyond just solar power.

Here goes:

What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a movement that imagines a future where renewable energy sources are the norm, and community-based solutions are used to create a more sustainable and equitable world.

Solarpunk City - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
A sustainable high-tech future (Midjourney V4).

“Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question ‘what does a sustainable civilisation look like, and how can we get there?’ The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world—but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.”
Source: Solarpunk: A Reference Guide

Solarpunk in Marketing and PR

“Dear Alice” is a solarpunk-inspired Yoghurt commercial that has received social media acclaim due to its beautiful and positive outlook on our future.

Solarpunk might offer inspiration for other brands who are thinking about communicating a vision of a future world that isn’t scary.

In contrast to dystopian sci-fi ideas about the future, many publics might long for visions that aren’t so bleak.

Decentralised and Community-Based

Another essential aspect of solarpunk is that it focuses on creating a more equitable and just society. This means it addresses poverty, access to education and healthcare, and inequality.

For example, a solarpunk community might work to create a community garden that provides fresh produce to people in need or to create a local renewable energy cooperative owned and controlled by the community.

Solarpunk Village - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Community-living in harmony with nature (Midjourney V4).

One of the critical principles is that it is a community-based movement rather than one dependent on large corporations or governments. This means that people are encouraged to work together to create small-scale solutions that can have a significant impact.

For example, a community might come together to install solar panels on their homes or to create a small-scale wind farm to power their neighbourhood.

Solarpunk Aesthetic

Ultimately, Solarpunk is about creating a future that is not only sustainable but also beautiful and enjoyable to live in. It combines a focus on renewable energy, sustainable technologies, and community-based solutions to create a greener, more equitable world for all.

Solarpunk is not only a movement focused on using renewable energy sources and creating a more sustainable future, but it also has its unique aesthetic.

Solarpunk Architecture - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Sustainable living in the wetlands (Midjourney V4).

The solarpunk aesthetic is characterised by a blend of futuristic and retro elements, often incorporating technology such as solar panels and wind turbines with a distinct rustic or handmade feel.

The aesthetic often takes inspiration from the natural world and incorporates elements such as greenery and natural materials into designs. Using bright, vibrant colours and incorporating community-based and DIY elements are also typical.

Overall, the Solarpunk aesthetic creates a harmonious balance between technology and nature and promotes a sense of community and self-sufficiency. It is about imagining a future that is not only sustainable but also beautiful and enjoyable to live in.

Solarpunk Architecture

Solarpunk architecture often incorporates elements such as solar panels, green roofs, and urban greenhouses and gardens. For example, an architect may design a building incorporating solar power for electricity and rainwater harvesting for irrigation.

Using Greentech, such as geothermal heating and treated wastewater for irrigation, is also typical in solarpunk architecture.

In architecture, solarpunk buildings often feature solar panels and green roofs designed to be energy-efficient and self-sufficient.

Solarpunk Cityscape - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
The future of cities (Midjourney V4).

The movement draws inspiration from various sources, including Art Nouveau, a popular architectural and design movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that emphasised organic forms and natural materials. 1Art Nouveau. (2023, January 14). In Wikipedia.

One example of a solarpunk-inspired architectural design is the Paris Métropolitain station.

Solarpunk in Culture

In literature, the novel Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach is a classic example of solarpunk fiction. It describes a green and sustainable society that is imagined as an alternative to our current way of living. It incorporates decentralised technologies, renewable energy, and sustainable gardening practices. 2Ecotopia. (2022, September 4). In Wikipedia.

Two other notable works are Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, a collection of short stories by several award-winning authors, and Ecopunk!: Speculative Tales of Radical Futures, an Australian anthology of short stories.

Black Panther’s Wakanda is a prime example of a solarpunk utopia where nature and tech coexist harmoniously. The community praised the film for depicting a future where progress is made, not just talked about. 3Wakanda. (2023, January 10). In Wikipedia.

In fashion, solarpunk clothing often incorporates sustainable materials.

An Unclear Political Alignment

The decentralised community aspect of solarpunk bears the hallmarks of anarchy where the governing and all-powerful state or nation seems nonexistent.

The utopian solidarity within communities signals a futuristic version of Marxist socialism, but the presence of advanced technology hints at a future dependent on sustainable capitalism and scientific progress.

Solarpunk ideas seem to span the political spectrum from left to right—all at once.

In short: Punk is inherently left, but the sci-fi element leans right.

Hardcore climate activists should celebrate the focus on renewable energy and its escape from short-term capitalism and mindless consumption. Still, the focus on science and technology opens the door for a humanistic outlook on societal progress and economic growth.

As a communication trend, the solarpunk message offers a rare tightrope walk in today’s culture wars.

A Smart Minority: The Sustainable Future

Maybe visions of our future mustn’t be depressing.

The benefits of solarpunk are many, but perhaps the most important is that it offers a real solution to the pressing issue of climate change.

With the world on the brink of a climate catastrophe, it is more important than ever to take action to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future. Optimists might be a smart minority that is genuinely worth getting behind.

If you’re looking for a brighter future, explore the solarpunk trend today and envision a brighter future for us all.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

1 Art Nouveau. (2023, January 14). In Wikipedia.
2 Ecotopia. (2022, September 4). In Wikipedia.
3 Wakanda. (2023, January 10). In Wikipedia.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.


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