The PR BlogDigital PROnline SubculturesLooking 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: @jerrysilfwer

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 high­lights 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 with social media acclaim due to its beau­ti­ful and pos­it­ive out­look on our future.

Solarpunk might offer inspir­a­tion for oth­er brands 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 less bleak visions.

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

Examples of Solarpunk Architecture

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.

While there aren’t many build­ings or urb­an plans that have been expli­citly labelled as “sol­arpunk,” sev­er­al pro­jects embrace prin­ciples and ideas that align with the movement:

  • Guimard-designed Métropolitain Stations in Paris, France. The Guimard-designed entrances are char­ac­ter­ized by cast iron sup­ports and dis­tinct­ive green col­our. They incor­por­ate curving lines, flor­al pat­terns, and oth­er organ­ic forms inspired by the Art Nouveau movement.
  • The Vertical Forest (Bosco Verticale) in Milan, Italy. Stefano Boeri designed these res­id­en­tial towers are covered with trees, shrubs, and plants, integ­rat­ing green­ery into the urb­an environment.
  • The Eden Project in Cornwall, England. A series of bio­mes hous­ing a diverse range of plant spe­cies world­wide, the Eden Project show­cases sus­tain­able con­struc­tion and eco­lo­gic­al education.
  • The Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Designed by Renzo Piano, the centre fea­tures tra­di­tion­al Kanak design ele­ments and is built using loc­al mater­i­als, sym­bol­iz­ing har­mony between cul­ture and the environment.
  • The Crystal in London, England. A sus­tain­able cit­ies ini­ti­at­ive by Siemens, this build­ing is a shin­ing example of green archi­tec­ture and serves as an exhib­i­tion space for eco-friendly urb­an solutions.
  • Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Masdar City, a planned city that aims to be car­bon-neut­ral and zero-waste, incor­por­ates sol­ar energy, wind power, and innov­at­ive design to min­im­ize its envir­on­ment­al impact.

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 dis­cussed. 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. 

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 today’s sol­arpunk trend and envi­sion a bright­er future.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

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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