This upcoming weekend is Solarise Con 2022 (register here). Described as “A day of global conversation on Solarpunk, a movement and a subgenre of speculative fiction in which humanity has addressed climate change.” There are four panels, complete with Q&A sessions, starting at 14:00 CEST (or 8:00 Eastern), and each panel seems to offer a different avenue to explore in the Solarpunk genre.

Solarise Con 2022: Seeding Solarpunk Futures event poster, depicting a multi-layered kite designed to look like a bee and children playing, all framed within a pair of thumbs & forefingers. Also notes panel times, topics and participants.

Real Solarpunk Technology (8:00 am Eastern)

The morning opens up with Star Ngei, Martin Restrepo, and Barbara Schack discussing tech. Based on the backgrounds of the panellists, I expect this panel will heavily lean on open source tech & programming. I also anticipate discussion on repurposing older & more affordable hardware for new & innovative use.

However, from the Solarise event page this panel will look at:

How can we work towards a Solarpunk future where we co-exist with technology without creating a technocracy? The answers may already be here. Our international panellists will showcase how to think about technology differently based on true stories from their communities.

From Solarise Con 2022

As the panellists are from Kenya/Poland (Star), Brazil (Martin), and Denmark (Barbara), this will provide quite a varied look at how technology is applied. I really hope they end up talking about more than just the rollout of solar setups, off-shore wind turbines, and the like. Those are great places to start, but there isn’t much left to that conversation for the converted.

Empowering Future Communities (9:45 am Eastern)

Solarpunk is all about community action & benefit. It’s about looking beyond individuals and improving the lives of the community. As a result, I think this topic could be the most important part of Solarise.

Unfortunately, it appears they went a bit in a different direction. Professor Joshua Pearce (Canada – engineer with a focus on photovoltaics), Emilio Velis (El Salvadore – director at Appropedia), and Sophie Paul (UK – director at Reading Hydro) are the panellists, which should provide for a very interesting, electricity-focused, conversation.

During the panel, the panellists will examine the following questions:

What does the path towards a fossil-fuel free future look like? How might we consider decentralisation of power, in quite literal terms? Could we—and should we—consider pathways to facilitate energy-independence and autonomy at a community level?

From Solarise Con 2022

As noted, it looks like the folks at Solarise chose to focus more on a play-on-words (emPOWERing) rather than the community aspect of the panel title. However, there is mention of decentralization, so it will likely focus on how power generation projects can be applied at local levels. Still an interesting topic, but not quite as it first appeared from the title.

Is Solarpunk Just Another Style? (11:30 am Eastern)

I’m not going to dig into this one too deeply, it’s all about aesthetics:

An attempt to visualise an alternative future inevitably takes us down the route of aesthetics — what could this new future look like? How would we dress if we were part of this future? What would be our new identifying symbols? A quick image search would yield cityscapes that are lush with green, some with hints of photovoltaic means of energy generation, and a few scattered wind turbines. How accurate are these images in depicting Solarpunk as a movement? And is “solarpunk fashion” actually an oxymoron?

From Solarise Con 2022

This is likely a much lighter panel, and I feel like there will be a more lively discussion between the attendees and the panellists, but will anything really be learned? I don’t think so. Solarise is aimed more toward fiction creatives than builders of a solarpunk society. This panel fits well with that audience.

What’s Holding Us Back From a Better Tomorrow? (1:15 pm Eastern)

From the title, it sounds like the panellists (Roberto Zamora, Juan Pablo Zamora, Phoebe Wagner, and L.X. Beckett) will be discussing the challenges that stand between where we are today and a solarpunk future. However, as the panellists are filmmakers and writers, and as Solarise has slightly misled with its topics in the past, let’s look at their description first:

Our society resembles stories we like to tell; we revere a good hero—a singular person to champion a cause, someone to symbolise our aspirations. And if someone goes on a mission or conquest, or comes up with a new startup idea, we call them an “entrepreneur” or a “hero” — they become a genius even if these terms perpetuate inequality or the myth of the “great man. We worship them even when their ideas do not benefit the many. But true change is rarely the work of one person. Change happens when communities form and work together towards a common cause. How can we change our narratives so we move from a hero-obsessed cyberpunk present, to a collective solarpunk future?

From Solarise Con 2022

Again, the title is slightly misleading, as it appears the panellists will be talking about changing narratives from the single hero (ie: Greta Thunberg) to collective action (ie: Fridays for Future). Once again, as Solarise Con is aimed at creatives working in the solarpunk genre, this basis of conversation makes sense. I do expect it to be very writer-focused, so people who do not have a background in writing may feel a little out of water depending on the flow of conversation.

But it still applies!

However, even discussion about changing the narrative in a creative sense (ie in scripts, books, comics, etc), those of us looking to create a solarpunk reality will find useful discussion. After all, we can’t create a solarpunk future, if everyone is still looking for the individual leaders and heroes to lead them to that point. We need to work together to make it happen, and we’ll need to change how we discuss climate justice, power generation, gardening, etc. so that it reflects community action.

Solarise Con 2022 Live Watch Discussion

With panellists deep in conversation, attendees may want to dig further into the info. There will be times when people want to talk about what they’ve just heard. I know that’s a big concern for me. Whether it’s the tech, power generation, or how to change the narrative, I’m going to want to discuss it.

For those attending, there will be a Q&A with the panellists. That’s great. It’s good to get some feedback and further insight from those presenting the ideas. However, there’s a limit to what they can cover, both in time and range of knowledge.

As a result, having a live watch discussion is a great idea. Full credit goes to Neuromantic for proposing it. There were a handful of people that expressed interest. As a result, the folks over at Sunbeam City will be having a live chat throughout the day on Matrix.

I’m hoping to carry those conversations forward with more post-event chats on Sunbeam’s Discourse. With some luck, this event will help kickstart a flow of ideas and ways to implement them.

Be sure to register!

This isn’t my event! I’m watching it like everyone else.

If you want in on the live event, be sure to register on the Solarise Con 2022 site.

They have more in-depth info on the panellists & panels, so it’s worth looking at if you’re still uncertain.

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