Making Futurism Work for You

The Solarpunk ideal is a resistance to the idea that things are ever “just the way they are.” We can always make changes for the better. A practical mode of bettering ones life, the Solarpunk ideal is the realization that a resistance needs to ignite, a resistance to the idea that “things are just

Making Futurism Work for You
Photo by travelnow.or.crylater / Unsplash

Or: The Purpose of Solarpunk

Part of the Solarpunk ideal is the realization that a resistance needs to ignite, a resistance to the idea that things have to be the way they are. You’ve heard it before, that refrain from friends, family, and doctors: “That’s just how things are. You just have to play the game.”

Well, Solarpunk is about changing that game.

The idealism of Solarpunk, the futuristic aesthetic, both of these are wonderful aspects of the movement. But there is another part, implied by the ‘punk’ moniker. It is to this punk energy that we need to turn if we are going to take the idealism of Solarpunk and turn it to practical uses.

How Can Solarpunk Work for Me?

The first question we must ask ourselves is this: how can Solarpunk help my life, right here, right now? The world is full of helpful notions and energized philosophies, but it requires action to prove the worth of a system of thought. Luckily, Solarpunk offers us some clues.

Here, a handful of Solarpunk themes provide some insight into the most important areas to concentrate on:

  • Community

Human beings are, first and foremost social creatures. The myth of the “lone wolf” is an oddly pervasive one, but despite its popularity, it remains utterly false. Human beings require strong communities to function. So what does “community” mean to you? Look around at your social groups and start taking note of the way they function, and around what ideals those communities orbit. Are they groups of loose friends, drawn together for simple socializing? Do you know each individual of the group well? Would you trust all of those individuals with your possessions? With your time? The answer to some of these later questions might be “no.” That’s okay. Once you’ve begun to honestly assess your social group, you can begin to make important decisions. Do I want to be closer with this friend, or Do I need something from a group of friends which I’m not getting here?

A good community will work hard to support its fellow members. Members of a community will often go a little, or a lot, out of their way to help others in the community. There will also be a sense of deeper connection than just passing idle friendships. Perhaps most importantly, it will be the connection between the members of a community that drives an interest in being together — rather than “social lubricants” such as alcohol.

  • Self-actualization

This doesn’t mean you need to live on a solar-powered farm in the middle of the wilderness, drinking rainwater and eating basement-grown mushrooms. Unless, of course, you really want to. Actualization is different from sufficiency.

Being self-actualized means that you are living your life in the best way that you can. A good community actually supports this by giving you a foundation of security upon which you can build; by which you can begin concentrating on your own self-betterment. Part of this whole process is recognizing that you will always have more to learn — that, in your life, growth is a continual process.

Self-actualization will be a personal process for each of us, but some of the things you can do — no matter what your life circumstances — to support the process are as follow: be honest with the people around you, try to live up to your best moral values (and be compassionate with yourself when you don’t reach them all the time); engage in active knowledge-seeking (especially of self-knowledge) and try to make certain that you’re using critical thinking to interpret what you encounter. It also means locating those things in your life which you love, those passions you have for some particular type of art or skill, and fostering them to greater heights. Start making your life decisions based on those, rather than what is “practical” or what “seems like the most responsible choice.” Diving into a passion is not easier — it’s actually harder and frequently more anxiety-inducing than an ordinary job or career, but it’s also the healthier option for your life.

You’ll know it’s a real passion if it’s difficult and exhausting but you keep working at it anyway; if the mere act of doing it provides you some sense of inner fulfillment which makes all the hard work worth it.

  • Sustainability

Sustainability isn’t just a catch-word environmentalists’ use, it’s an intimate practice that can help with the immediate problems of life. As you progress along the road of sustainability and your understanding of it increases, and as you begin to build a community that feels like family, your commitment to sustainable living will begin to have larger and farther-reaching consequences.

It’s not just about what sort of energy conversion powers your vehicle, or about what soap you buy, or if you do you’re recycling properly. While these can be important (I, personally, always snip open plastic rings that come with six-packs of soda pop), they are not the end-all of sustainability.

Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of this concept is actually time-management. How are you, in your life, using your time? Not to maximize the effectiveness of your job, but to maximize your exploration of self-actualization. We think “wasting time” means that we need to get places faster, but, in reality, the fullness of life might actually only emerge at a slower pace.

Regardless, find ways to bring to light all those physical, mental, and emotional patterns you carry with you. Explore them and seek within them the moments wasted that could be spent doing something that matters: loving, talking with friends, reading for fulfillment (which can totally mean reading pop fiction), walking in a park, or practicing the art that makes you feel whole. Start here and add on the grander notions of sustainability as it becomes feasible for you to do so. We’re all just human beings doing the best we can.

What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a movement incorporating aesthetic elements (art, fashion, structural design) with fiction, philosophy, economic theory, and activism. Solarpunk is all about imagining a better future and then asking the all-important (and often overlooked) question of “how we actually get there.”

I’m a huge fan of Solarpunk and will continue to write more about it directly in the future — you’ll also find that most of my posts regarding politics and philosophy attempt to tackle elements which fit into the Solarpunk ethos.

Hi there! I’m Odin Halvorson, a librarian, independent scholar, film fanatic, fiction author, and tech enthusiast. If you like my work and want to support me, please consider becoming a paid subscriber for as little as $2.50 a month!

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