https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbY65fyTWn8

Geraldine de Bastion: Thank you very much. Wonderful to be back on Stage 5, and thank you very much to all of you for com­ing and join­ing our ses­sion, which is the penul­ti­mate ses­sion in our track Cancel the Apocalypse. This track Cancel the Apocalypse is some­thing that’s very dear to the re:publica pro­gram team. It’s grown out of a long-lasting col­lab­o­ra­tion with some won­der­ful peo­ple, includ­ing the com­mu­ni­ty and mak­ers of the Utopia Festival in Tel Aviv. And so we’re very proud that we put this pro­gram togeth­er and espe­cial­ly with our pan­el today and the four peo­ple that are about to join me up here on stage.

We want to talk today about a new move­ment called Solarpunk and how we’re try­ing to invent a more pos­i­tive ver­sion of the future. Perhaps you heard some the keynotes in the last cou­ple of days on this top­ic ask­ing the ques­tion why we always tend to think in dystopias and how we can get to for­mu­lat­ing a more desir­able ver­sion of the future. That’s exact­ly what the peo­ple who are about to join me on stage have been doing in their research and the work. And so yeah, we’re going to talk now about solarpunk and going post-post-apocalyptic with four won­der­ful peo­ple. Let me intro­duce them to you.

Andrew Hudson is a writer of spec­u­la­tive fic­tion, a thinker on cli­mate, and self-proclaimed solarpunk. Welcome, Andrew.

Steve Lambert is as an artist and activist who’s worked in many coun­tries all over the world with dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple, all of the sort of inter­sec­tion on top­ics of soci­ety, tech­nol­o­gy, the­ater, games, and cul­ture. He’s also the cofounder and codi­rec­tor of the Center for Artistic Activism. He’s going to be telling us a lit­tle bit more about his work there in a bit.

Mushon Zer-Aviv is a design­er, edu­ca­tor, and media activist based in Tel Aviv. He’s also worked in dif­fer­ent inter­sec­tions of, like I said, design, inter­ac­tive design, his­to­ry, and future, and he’s devel­oped very inter­est­ing for­mats that he’s also going to be shar­ing with us on stage.

Last but not least, Maya Indira Ganesh has been work­ing also at the inter­sec­tion of new media, dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, gen­der, and visu­al advo­ca­cy. She’s worked with Tactical Technology Collective for a long time and she’s now cur­rent­ly doing her doc­tor­ate at the Leuphana University in Germany. Welcome, Maya.

So this is going to be the for­mat for this con­ver­sa­tion. We’re going to have Andrew give us about a ten-minute input to start with. Then we’re going to join a dis­cus­sion giv­ing the oth­er pan­elists a bit more of an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share the work that they’ve done that fits to this top­ic. We’re going to have an inter­ven­tion by Maya. And then we’re going to con­tin­ue our dis­cus­sion, and we’re real­ly hop­ing that you’re all going to join in. So about half way through lat­est, we want to open it for your ques­tions and com­ments on this top­ic, so please be ready for that. And, take the stage Andrew.


Andrew Hudson: My name is Andrew Hudson. These are some of the things that I get up to most­ly. I’m a spec­u­la­tive fic­tion writer; some­times I call myself a cli­mate fic­tion writer. I’m cur­rent­ly based out of Phoenix, Arizona at ASU, where I study at the School Sustainability and col­lab­o­rate with the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Imaginary College. I’ve sort of found my way there by tak­ing inter­est in this emerg­ing spec­u­la­tive move­ment called solarpunk.

Teikoku Shônen (aka Imperial Boy)

So, what is solarpunk? I’m going to talk about that today and just sort of set us off so that we can see how this can guide us into some post-post-apocalyptic types of think­ing, which I think can take lots of lit­er­ary and aes­thet­ic forms beyond just solarpunk.

So, what’s solarpunk? The punk” kind of tips us off that we’re talk­ing about sci­ence fic­tion, right? Solarpunk fol­lows in the tra­di­tion of cyber­punk, which was a move­ment start­ing in the 1980s to get sci-fi away from these rel­a­tiv­i­ty puz­zles, and galac­tic empires, and time machines, and worm­holes, and instead talk about the thing that was actu­al­ly chang­ing the world, which was com­pu­ta­tion.

And cyber­punk unlike a lot of move­ments in sci-fi had this real­ly gras­pable, coher­ent aes­thet­ic, thanks to movies like Blade Runner… That’s Neuromancer. That’s Altered Carbon from Netflix this year, and Blade Runner is obvi­ous­ly pret­ty clas­sic. Cyberpunk was­n’t just a kin of sto­ries and nov­els, it was fash­ion and design, and a look and an atti­tude, all of which was large­ly coun­ter­cul­tur­al, as the punk” name implies. So, every­one here can prob­a­bly see cyber­punk in their head, right? It’s urban and grimy and neon and filled with these dangerous-looking peo­ple with met­al arms and VR glass­es.

So, there have been a lot of oth­er punk gen­res, sub­gen­res, that take a line of tech­no­log­i­cal spec­u­la­tion and spin it out into an aes­thet­ic. So steam­punk you prob­a­bly all know, but there’s atom­punk and biop­unk and diesel punk. But I don’t think any of these quite cohered into a full-bodied move­ment the way solarpunk seems to be doing. And I think solarpunk in a lot of ways is a response to and a suc­ces­sor of cyber­punk.

Artur Sadlos | Teikoku Shônen (aka Imperial Boy)

So, cyber­punk is kind of… You know, it’s about the infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy rev­o­lu­tion. And solarpunk is about the green tech­nol­o­gy rev­o­lu­tion. Cyberpunk is dark, and chrome, and cov­ered in latex. Solarpunk is sun­ny and leafy, and dressed in like, hemp can­vas, right. Cyberpunk is grit­ty, solarpunk is plucky. Cyberpunk explores the way tech­nol­o­gy can shove human life into ever-greater lev­els of abstrac­tion like cyber­space, where­as I think solarpunk is real­ly about tech that de-abstracts human rela­tion­ships of mate­r­i­al real­i­ty, mean­ing like health, food and water, the cli­mate, the land.

The Matrix | Jessica Perlstein

So cyber­punks, they’re out pirat­ing data and upload­ing their brains into video games. Solarpunks are revi­tal­iz­ing water­sheds, map­ping radi­a­tion after dis­as­ter or war, and bring­ing back pol­li­na­tor pop­u­la­tions. And since all great spec­u­la­tive fic­tion is real­ly not about the future but about about the present, cyber­punk is about the pol­i­tics of the 1980s, right. It was about urban decay and cor­po­rate pow­er and glob­al­iza­tion. In the same way, solarpunk is real­ly about the pol­i­tics of right now. Which means it’s about glob­al social jus­tice, the fail­ures of late cap­i­tal­ism, and the cli­mate cri­sis.

So, while cyber­punk start­ed out as this lit­er­a­ture that inspired an aes­thet­ic, I think solarpunk real­ly start­ed out as an aes­thet­ic that implied a lot of amaz­ing untold sto­ries. These were some of the images that were shared on Tumblr and what I sort of think of as one of the canon­i­cal found­ing posts of the solarpunk move­ment by a user called Miss Olivia Louise. They look super col­or­ful, inspired by Art Nouveau and Afrofuturism. It’s full of green­ery, and stained glass, and cul­tur­al diver­si­ty. The build­ings all look real­ly lived-in, but they’re like happily-graffiti’d ver­sions of all these archi­tec­tur­al ren­der­ings of hotels that have trees in the lob­by that we see all the time. And every­one is rid­ing bikes and tak­ing pub­lic tran­sit because solarpunk is not just about imag­in­ing a beau­ti­ful world, it’s about imag­in­ing a world that can actu­al­ly last.

So that’s where the solar” comes in. These days I think the most trans­for­ma­tive tech­nolo­gies are the ones that move us towards a sus­tain­able civ­i­liza­tion. Solar ener­gy is real­ly at the front of that pack, and that’s not just me being self-serving because I live in Arizona where we get a lot of sun. Solar has this colos­sal poten­tial to improve our lives and I think it’s a real­ly pro­found shift to imag­ine a tech­no­log­i­cal soci­ety that does not run on a scarce resource that’s killing us, like fos­sil fuels, but that is pow­ered by some­thing abun­dant and free and life-giving, like the sun.

So this is a solar pow­er instal­la­tion in California. This is a pan­el from a com­ic book about Phoenix in 2045 that was put out by my friends and col­lab­o­ra­tors at the Center for Science and the Imagination. In the com­ic, con­cen­trat­ed solar pow­er plants like this one and also this one had solved a big chunk of the ener­gy prob­lem. But now the heat it cre­ates is killing birds, just like this one does, which is hav­ing neg­a­tive impacts on the sur­round­ing ecosys­tem.

So there’s a lot of poten­tial dra­ma in these renew­able ener­gy trans­for­ma­tions and a lot of nuance we have to work out, and telling those sto­ries is one of the real­ly inter­est­ing things that I think solarpunk can do.

And solarpunk can help us fig­ure out how to make the world on the oth­er side of the trans­for­ma­tions mean­ing­ful and beau­ti­ful. Here’s an image from my friends at the Land Art Generator Initiative. They have these awe­some bian­nu­al design com­pe­ti­tions for big pieces of pub­lic art that also gen­er­ate renew­able ener­gy. So this is the kind of thing that… It’s a big solarpunk inspi­ra­tion and the kind of thing that takes a lot of inspi­ra­tion from solarpunk.

So, ear­li­er this week I par­tic­i­pat­ed in ASU’s solar futures hackathon. I stole the slide from Clark Miller, who helped orga­nize that. We had four teams, and each team con­sist­ed of an engi­neer, a social sci­en­tist, an artist, and a sci-fi writer. We worked from a cou­ple of assigned vari­ables, most­ly about the size and loca­tion of solar pan­els, to imag­ine dif­fer­ent sci-fi sto­ries in which there’s maybe sev­en or ten plus ter­awatts of pho­to­volta­ic pow­er gen­er­a­tion on the plan­et. Which is about as much pow­er as is used on the plan­et alto­geth­er.

So here’s a bit of draft art that the artist in my group sketched on our first day. My team brain­stormed a sto­ry about orga­niz­ing for fair hous­ing reg­u­la­tions in a future Detroit where this city-sized megas­caf­fold­ing had been put over the city and allowed peo­ple to put solar pan­els and ver­ti­cal farms in the sky space, kind of the air­space over their homes. So this was a real­ly solarpunk style sto­ry, right. It’s got plucky char­ac­ters fight­ing to improve a com­plex polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in a visu­al­ly com­pelling place. I think those are all good ele­ments that you see a lot. No one shoots any­one else (spoil­er), and the sci-fi dream at stake is not like, let’s live for­ev­er or let’s con­quer Mars, it’s let’s save the old wom­an’s house who wants to fill her sky­space with hand­made bird­hous­es, right.

I was on the team so obvi­ous­ly that’s the kind of sto­ry that I want­ed to tell. But I was real­ly sur­prised and pleased to dis­cov­er that the oth­er three groups were also telling real­ly solarpunk sto­ries. Everyone was imag­in­ing com­mu­ni­ties of resis­tance where improv­ing solar tech­nol­o­gy was not about high­er effi­cien­cy and stor­age, it was about bet­ter sys­tems of gen­er­a­tion that were defined as bet­ter because they were more just and more free from exploita­tion and impe­ri­al­ism.

And I think the reverse dynam­ic is true as well, right. A year ago I saw Paul Hawken pre­mier his Drawdown book—really good; you guys should get it—which quan­ti­fies solu­tions to our car­bon waste prob­lem. He argued that invest­ing in edu­ca­tion and repro­duc­tive health for women and girls would do more to stop cli­mate change than invest­ing in solar pan­els or wind tur­bines. Educating girls, it’s right up there at the top. So solarpunk has to be about that, too.

And in the con­text of apoc­a­lyp­tic, preda­to­ry delay on cli­mate change on the one hand, and a lot of peo­ple want­i­ng Elon Musk to own every rooftop in America on the oth­er hand, that kind of pol­i­tics is real­ly coun­ter­cul­tur­al. So that’s why so solarpunk gets to be punk even though it’s not filled with like, cyborg anti-heroes or a lot of peo­ple on drugs nec­es­sar­i­ly. Solarpunk pro­pos­es that sus­tain­able tech­nol­o­gy has a lib­er­a­to­ry poten­tial. That grow­ing your own food and gen­er­at­ing your own elec­tric­i­ty can empow­er com­mu­ni­ties to fight back against the forces that would oth­er­wise erase their self-determination and dis­tinc­tive­ness.

I’m a white guy from the US, but a lot of the peo­ple most inspired by solarpunk are those who see it as a genre that can tell their sto­ries and give a sci-fi future to peo­ple who are non-white and non-Western, who are queer, who are dis­abled, who are indige­nous, who are col­o­nized. And I think that is why solarpunk more often than not ends up being hope­ful rather than apoc­a­lyp­tic and dystopi­an, even though the stakes in the back­ground are actu­al­ly very apoc­a­lyp­tic in a lot of ways. As Naomi Klein point­ed out in her This Changes Everything book, the things we need to do to save the world from envi­ron­men­tal dis­as­ter are also the things we need to do to build a world that is beau­ti­ful and healthy and pros­per­ous and just and that we actu­al­ly want to live in.

So, Mushon talked about utopias and dystopias as attrac­tors and repellers, right. I want to add kind of a lit­er­ary fram­ing that I recent­ly heard to that list, diag­nos­tic and cura­tive fic­tion, and give a name to some pre­vi­ous­ly inevitable human expe­ri­ence. And can also help move us for­ward by pro­vid­ing a moral frame­work, or resolv­ing an inter­nal con­tra­dic­tion. And I think this dis­tinc­tion is real­ly impor­tant because know­ing what utopia might look like isn’t enough to get us there, just like your doc­tor show­ing you a pic­ture of a real­ly healthy per­son does­n’t actu­al­ly make you feel bet­ter. If we’re going to can­cel the apoc­a­lypse, we have to make some mean­ing­ful pro­pos­als of what we should do.

So, for me solarpunk says okay, things are real­ly bad. In some ways things are worse than even cyber­punk pre­dict­ed. Because cli­mate change turns out to be an exis­ten­tial cri­sis. And because the insti­tu­tions that cyber­punk wor­ried would take over the world did take over the world but now they aren’t even func­tion­ing very well. So let’s give our­selves one out, one advan­tage, some­thing that we can work with, right. A tool that we can crack into these prob­lems with. Abundant solar pow­er, that’s a good one. One, because we’ll need to cap­ture and dis­pose of the 500 or so giga­tons of car­bon waste that we’ve dumped into our atmos­phere. And two, because abun­dance is a par­a­digm that breaks peo­ple out of the zero-sum think­ing that makes pover­ty and depri­va­tion seem unavoid­able.

So let’s imag­ine what it would look like if we made good choic­es and use that advan­tage to walk our­selves back from the edge of the cliff, heal­ing the cli­mate, dis­man­tling oppres­sion, and end­ing the cap­i­tal­ist exploita­tion that got us into this mess in the first place.

So, again I’m Andrew Hudson. If you ever see a piece of fic­tion with my name on it please read it. I’ll leave it up to the rest of the pan­el.


Geraldine de Bastion: Thank you very much, Andrew, for that real­ly nice intro­duc­tion to what solarpunk means. Very inspir­ing. Before we kick off I just want to have a quick show of hands, who here saw Wendy Chun’s keynote on the first day? Who saw Steve’s keynote yes­ter­day? Couple more. I’m not going to ask you about Mushon’s because he’s speak­ing about some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent today.

Okay, just to get a feel­ing in the room. So I want to start with a gen­er­al ques­tion to the pan­el and then give you a chance to speak a bit more about your work. Wendy said some­thing where I thought yeah, that’s actu­al­ly quite obvi­ous. How are we sup­posed to devel­op a pos­i­tive future if all of our visions of dig­i­ti­za­tion and soci­ety are based on dystopi­an sci­ence fic­tion of the 1980s? And it was like mmm yeah, that makes sense sort of.

So I want to just open­ly ask you guys why is it that we’ve been work­ing with these dystopi­an ver­sions of the future for so long? Why is it that the human mind tends to seem to devel­op more dystopi­an visions of the future rather than pos­i­tive ones?

Steve Lambert: Yesterday in the keynote I brought up an evo­lu­tion­ary argu­ment, in that in order to… The sto­ry I told was if we heard a rus­tle in the grass and I was like, That’s prob­a­bly a saber-toothed tiger, we should get out of here,” and we did that every time we would live. And if I was super chill and said, It’s prob­a­bly noth­ing. It’s prob­a­bly a bird or the wind,” I only have to be wrong one time. And I would be eat­en, right? And so that all the super chill, relaxed ances­tors were eat­en. And we are the descen­dants of the para­noid and fear­ful, right?

And this served us well for a long time. But it does­n’t serve us now. It gets in the way of us… I mean, also in our cul­ture there’s a lot of rewards for point­ing out prob­lems, right. If you can point out prob­lems and draw con­nec­tions between them and study them in a way that no one has before, and spec­u­late about oth­er prob­lems, you’ll be in the op-ed pages of news­pa­pers. You’ll be writ­ten about as a great thinker. You’ll be asked about your opin­ion. You’ll pub­lish books more eas­i­ly. Sorry, Andrew. So we reward this, right. We think that that’s insight, is to see how bad and explain how bad the prob­lems are.

de Bastion: Yeah. And I mean, fear is one of the dri­ving forces in most polit­i­cal gov­ern­ment nar­ra­tives today, espe­cial­ly your gov­ern­ment. [to Andrew Hudson]

Lambert: It works.

Andrew Hudson: Yeah, I think, though, that we’re all pret­ty tired of the fear, right? I mean, it does­n’t actu­al­ly show us a way out, you know. You’re all run­ning in dif­fer­ent direc­tions. It does­n’t coor­di­nate you. And you [to Zer-Aviv] were mak­ing that point yes­ter­day. So hav­ing some­thing else is real­ly valu­able.

Zer-Aviv: And the oth­er side of the argu­ment is also true. Like, if you actu­al­ly say what you think should be done, you’re real­ly putting your­self on the line. Like, if you’re say­ing we should do this,” then you’re set­ting expec­ta­tions and peo­ple are very con­cerned about that. And then if what you said should hap­pen, or what you said we should do, does­n’t work exact­ly like you want­ed it to work, it’s all your fault, right? But if you just said that this is a prob­lem and it ends up not being a problem…no prob­lem; that’s good.

Lambert: And point­ing it out is what helped us avoid it, right. Like you’re giv­en cred­it for high­light­ing that haz­ard so every­one could work around it. But I think talk­ing about our dreams and hopes for the future makes you sound like a dream­er. And that’s also not val­ued, right. It makes you vul­ner­a­ble.

de Bastion: Also our present, there seems to be very lit­tle in between. I mean, most… It’s either this way or this way. So either you go to a tech event and every­thing is very dark and there’s usu­al­ly a bunch of activists ter­ri­bly con­cerned about the very dark present—not just future—that we’re liv­ing in, which is sur­veilled and full of ter­ri­ble IoT devices, etc. Or you go to a tech event which is super pos­i­tivis­tic and cel­e­brat­ing all the pseu­do amaz­ing star­tups that they have on stage. But very very lit­tle in between.

Maya Indira Ganesh: Yeah I mean, I think that both those things are true. And I’m not going to go into the pol­i­tics of sort of events and how they’re set up. But it’s true that those extremes are there. I think there’s the evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gy argu­ment, that kind of approach to think­ing about why we like to tell cer­tain sto­ries. I’m much more of a kind of polit­i­cal econ­o­my mate­ri­al­ist activist, so I’m inter­est­ed in who has the pow­er to tell the sto­ries and what kinds of sto­ries are being told at dif­fer­ent points in time. These are all very sit­u­at­ed and very spe­cif­ic. And I’m pret­ty sure some­body’s already looked into, in the 70s, for exam­ple, or 80s, when a lot of the cyber­punk or dystopi­an nar­ra­tives were being pro­duced, what were the oth­er five pub­lished nov­els in the SF genre, for exam­ple. If some­body knows about that paper which has looked at that, please talk about it. Otherwise there’s a great dig­i­tal human­i­ties project out there for some­one to do.

So it’s like, which sto­ries get told? So for exam­ple if you look at the lit­er­a­ture in sci­ence fic­tion of fem­i­nist SF writ­ers, for exam­ple, maybe they were telling oth­er kinds of sto­ries. People like Octavia Butler, you know, who were not known for many years. And there are many oth­ers who con­tin­ue to be. And I find in some of those sto­ries this kind of strug­gling with pow­er, and strug­gling with new and dif­fer­ent changed real­i­ties. So maybe there are just oth­er ways of telling the sto­ry, and those were not ampli­fied, and they set the stage, and you know.

de Bastion: Let’s get per­son­al for a moment. When did you guys decide to tell the pos­i­tive sto­ry? Were you all very con­cerned, dark thinkers, and there was a point that you said, No, I want to start work­ing with utopias as a method,” work­ing with them. I like that you called solarpunk a move­ment and not a genre. So this sort of empow­er­ing feel­ing that you’re a part of actu­al­ly doing some­thing.

Hudson: Yeah, I use the word move­ment” because I actu­al­ly think there’s way more peo­ple doing solarpunk than writ­ing it. Which is real­ly eerie for me as a sci­ence fic­tion writer, to con­stant­ly hear from peo­ple who are like, Oh yeah, that stuff you’re describ­ing is what we’re actu­al­ly doing, where dropped out and made our per­ma­cul­ture com­mune. We’re cre­at­ing mak­er­spaces that are total­ly trans­for­ma­tive…” And so yeah, I think move­ment” is a much bet­ter word because it encom­pass­es activism and polit­i­cal demands, not just art.

Zer-Aviv: Yeah, for me it has to do with liv­ing in Tel Aviv. Which hap­pens to be in Israel. Which hap­pens to be um…not the most hope­ful place in the world right now. And you know, you can put it aside for some time but then I also have a son. And my son is sev­en years old. Which means in eleven years, he’s sup­posed to be draft­ed. So I have a time­line to work with. That’s the way I see it. And it became real­ly real­ly depress­ing for me. Like it made me feel like I see no pos­i­tive prospects for the future.

And I love Tel Aviv. And I love my son. And I love my friends and my life and fam­i­ly where I live. But I also know that the state of this coun­try, and the state of the occu­pa­tion, and the state of so many things that are hap­pen­ing in Israel are just unsus­tain­able. So it’s either that I resign from every­thing that I know, or I actu­al­ly shift the way that I think. And for me the idea of going beyond that depres­sion is exis­ten­tial.

I also think it’s a mat­ter of humil­i­ty. I think there’s some­thing very pre­ten­tious about being so depressed.

de Bastion: Yeah.

Zer-Aviv: Like…what the fuck? Like, there are so many options. And we need to kind of embrace them and be a bit more hum­ble and under­stand that the future is not writ­ten. It’s not like it’s writ­ten and you just you know, drift towards it. You actu­al­ly make it.

Lambert: Uh, just a defense of depres­sion, real­ly quick. I think one of the rea­sons peo­ple are reluc­tant to imag­ine these futures is because if you real­ly do and you vivid­ly paint a pic­ture in your mind of the world that you want, it is in such con­trast to the world that we’re in now? And to know how big that gap is… You know, I think like there is some com­fort in not real­ly being able to imag­ine how good it could be. Right? So there’s that part, and I think that we…protect our­selves some­times.

But the way that I got into this is not… You have a very spe­cif­ic sit­u­a­tion, I’m real­ly glad you said that. But for me it was watch­ing audi­ences, and I know you do this, too. And audi­ences don’t respond to… I mean, I actu­al­ly think it’s kind of insult­ing to be like, Do you know how bad it is? Like do you even real­ize…? Like let me show you the data just on how bad it is, because I don’t think you know.”

And then the idea’s that once you know— That the rea­son you’re not active is because you don’t know. And if you did know these things, then you would be moti­vat­ed. And when you’re not moti­vat­ed after you learn it’s because there’s some­thing wrong with you. You’re a bad per­son, you’re une­d­u­cat­ed. Right? And then this is how activists get bit­ter, is they start to resent the peo­ple that they’re try­ing to change for not hav­ing this enlight­en­ment, rev­e­la­tion, that turns them into a force, right. But what does moti­vate them? The pos­si­bil­i­ty. Its what’s moti­vat­ing you, right?

Ganesh: I think for me, yes I worked in tech­nol­o­gy and infor­ma­tion activism for a long time and I still con­tin­ue to be that per­son. But I think that an expe­ri­ence of grow­ing up with kind of like, fragili­ty every day, when you know that things kind of turn on a dime— I mean, I actu­al­ly grew up in a place where there was a wall. One side of the wall was the very kind of com­fort­able, aca­d­e­m­ic, fair­ly cos­mopoli­tan small town in South India, and was an aca­d­e­m­ic uni­ver­si­ty town.

And like right on the oth­er side of the wall were all of the peo­ple who worked in our homes and lived in pover­ty. And they were part of com­mu­ni­ty health projects that the hos­pi­tal did. And you went to the same school and you had the same expe­ri­ences of peo­ple on the oth­er side of the wall but they— I mean, in school you have the same expe­ri­ences. But they were dif­fer­ent and you could see how… I think when things are frag­ile you kind can’t let go, and I think that res­onates with what you’re say­ing. And so I think that’s always been there for me.

And recent­ly I think my work has sort of turned more to the urgency of what does it mean to inhab­it this plan­et, in a more sort of aca­d­e­m­ic or intel­lec­tu­al sense. And I’m quite hap­py for that and I will talk a lit­tle bit about those expe­ri­ences lat­er but I feel like some­thing is com­ing back for me. Like how do you kind of sus­tain and work through liv­ing in fragili­ty or with fer­til­i­ty.

de Bastion: Yeah. Let me dig a bit into your work­spaces. Because I was told, Steve, that at the Center of Artistic Activism you’re using utopia as a tool, as a method, in dif­fer­ent work­shops that you run. Can you tell us a lit­tle bit what that looks like?

Lambert: Yeah, so I would sort of say there’s two parts. One is with the activists them­selves, or the artists. We work with activists and artists as like, how to use what we call like utopic vision­ing process for them to real­ly get access to what they tru­ly care about and what’s moti­vat­ing them, right.

So, one of the things that we’ll do is we’ll… We were work­ing in South Texas and we were like, Okay, what would be a win for you? What would be suc­cess?”

And they’re like, Oh. You know, if we could pass State Bill 17, that would be huge.”

And we’re like, Okay. Imagine you pass that. What would you want to do next?”

And they’re like, Ha ha ha ha…no.”

Right? It’s like they can bare­ly imag­ine that. And we’re like, No no, seri­ous­ly. You did it. What would you want to do?”

And they’re like, Oh. Well, we would need to enforce it.”

Right? It’s just like, the most the minor, small steps. Like okay, you passed, you enforce it, you’re doing great. What would hap­pen after that? And lit­er­al­ly they’re like, Um… Can I pass?” They’re so… And you have to be to be an effec­tive activist, like real­ize what the next step is and be fight­ing to get that.

But as we pushed and pushed and pushed, right… Actually it’s kind of fun­ny. What so many peo­ple around the world describe is what you have shown in that solarpunk vision. They describe a world that has this like, lush green atmos­phere, there’s leisure out­side. You can find kids play­ing and peo­ple are talk­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each oth­er and you smell great food, and it’s like, a beau­ti­ful vision of what they want. But they’re not in touch with it, right. So part of it is get­ting them in touch with that, and then learn­ing how to use that to reach oth­er peo­ple. And then using that as a goal-setting process to fig­ure out their plans

Hudson: Yeah. So, that is total­ly the shared, kind of utopi­an vision. And I think what’s inter­est­ing about try­ing to approach it through­out a counterculture-style genre like solarpunk is, say that like what’s hap­pen­ing there is con­test­ed, right. And get­ting to it is con­test­ed. And it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly going to be shared, and equi­table, and it can look real­ly good but it might not be good unless we have sort adjust­ed our social arrange­ments around that, too. So sort of see­ing through those visions into the actu­al debates that need to be had and the pol­i­tics of it.

de Bastion: And I…I hope you’re going to agree because I think it’s high time that this kind of idea starts becom­ing more pop­u­lar, talked about, prop­a­gat­ed. I have been in the sit­u­a­tion often where speak­ing about automa­tion and the future of work, and this sort of very dire pic­ture of the future is paint­ed where every­body’s going to be enslaved by their robot boss—or out of a job; it’s basi­cal­ly either or. And when­ev­er I try to sit there and go, But guys—or girls—what about this idea that there could be a new sort of ris­ing of the arts and the human­i­ties that we saw after the Industrial Revolution? Perhaps there’s an unleash­ment of cre­ativ­i­ty and sort of putting togeth­er our ener­gies to cre­ate more beau­ti­ful things.”

And most of the time, espe­cial­ly— I mean, in Germany you get a lot of peo­ple look­ing at you going [mimes a con­de­scend­ing stare] as if you’re like, the naïvest per­son in the world. So I think this is some­thing that’s very pow­er­ful and very nec­es­sary.

Lambert: There’s a lack of imag­i­na­tion that goes along with that kind of dis­as­ters think­ing. Because I would argue that automa­tion is only a prob­lem like you’re describ­ing under cap­i­tal­ism.

de Bastion: Yeah. I mean, there’s a great sen­tence that was said by our clos­ing keynote speak­er of day one, Sascha Lobo, that a lot of the things we’re blam­ing on dig­i­ti­za­tion are actu­al­ly prob­lems of cap­i­tal­ism that we’re blam­ing these dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies for, but— [clap­ping in audi­ence] Yes, I think that deserves anoth­er round of applause. [more clap­ping] Quote Sascha Lobo on it, not me, but I thought that was an impor­tant sen­tence to say.

Mushon, you work also design­ing visions of the future. I’d like to invite you to share a lit­tle bit about some of the method­olo­gies that you’ve cre­at­ed. I’m sure a lot of peo­ple espe­cial­ly in this city expe­ri­ence the sort of his­toric tour­ing that you can do in Berlin. There’s a lot of places where you walk past a col­umn, and you can press a but­ton, and then you’ll get infor­ma­tion about the his­to­ry of that place and what’s hap­pened there. And there’s also some real­ly great apps that you can walk through the city with and will show you pic­tures of what paces looked like GDR times. So you sort of played a lit­tle bit with that idea.

Zer-Aviv: Yeah, so twelve years ago I start­ed play­ing with this idea of audio tours. We did a project called You Are Not Here.” It was a tour of Gaza through the streets of Tel Aviv. We made a tourist map of Gaza, and on the back of the map we print­ed the streets of Tel Aviv.

Now, when you held them up to the light you could see the streets of Tel Aviv through the streets of Gaza, in 1:1 ratio. And let’s say you want to vis­it the Unknown Soldier stat­ue in the heart of Gaza. You find the cor­re­spond­ing loca­tion in Tel Aviv, you actu­al­ly go there, and you find a stick­er in the street. The stick­er had a tele­phone num­ber and an exten­sion. You call the tele­phone num­ber, you enter the exten­sion, and you get an audio tour of that cor­re­spond­ing loca­tion in Gaza, writ­ten and nar­rat­ed by Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian blog­ger who chose all of the loca­tions and record­ed them.

And the project was very well received. And the most excit­ing feed­back that I got about it is some­one came to me after one of the tours and she said, You know, for me, I love Laila’s sto­ries, and I love the way she nar­rates Gaza. And she obvi­ous­ly loves Gaza a lot. But for me the strongest part of the tour was when I was walk­ing from one point to the oth­er. Because then I was walk­ing along the boule­vard in Tel Aviv, and I was try­ing to imag­ine all of the build­ings being the build­ings in Gaza, and the peo­ple walk­ing across from me being the res­i­dents of Gaza.” And that was a trans­for­ma­tive moment for me, that moment of what I see in my imag­i­na­tion.”

And and I said okay, there’s some­thing here. I have to fig­ure it out. And then you know, it was… We start­ed this project 2006, 2007. And then smart­phones came. And then it’s like every­body has devices in their pock­ets. We don’t need to make sure that the stick­ers are still in the street all of the time.

And then a year ago, so, like a year and a half ago, I was invit­ed to do a new project in Jerusalem. And I said okay, great, let’s do you You Are Not Here in Jerusalem. And I’m think­ing which city should I over­lay over Jerusalem. And I’m think­ing about it and I’m like, Jerusalem does­n’t need anoth­er city over­laid on top of it. Jerusalem is already a city, on top of a city, on top of a city. And it’s like, the lev­els of nar­ra­tives that are fight­ing for exis­tence in the city are just unbear­able. It does­n’t need anoth­er one.

But all of these nar­ra­tives are based in the past. I lived in Jerusalem for a cou­ple of years as a stu­dent. It felt like the past because is kind of drag­ging you down. You can’t even expe­ri­ence the present let alone speak about the future, which is like super scary. If you just start speak­ing about the future in Jerusalem it’s like aaaaah.

And then it was obvi­ous. We need tours of the future, rather the futures in Jerusalem. And it can­not be one. It’s not like in the case of Your Are Not Here, it has to be plur­al. So we turned to a group of authors and invit­ed them for a work­shop where we used some tech­niques that I spoke about yes­ter­day like fore­fu­tures and back­cast­ing. And they cre­at­ed dif­fer­ent spec­u­la­tions.

And I want to give you just two exam­ples. We have eight tours. One of them is [Hagit Geysau sp?]. And the spot that she chose in the city is the Daoud Brothers build­ing. This is one of the unique cas­es where Palestinians who had to flee in 1948 man­aged to win their prop­er­ty back. And the build­ing came back to the own­er­ship of its orig­i­nal inhab­i­tants. So it was a real sto­ry that she want­ed to tell. But then she she kind of took it into the future and we’re arriv­ing at this build­ing, and the woman who who lets us is from that fam­i­ly that got a hold of the build­ing. And now appar­ent­ly the whole region has col­lapsed, and the build­ing that has become some­thing you run away from becomes a place you run to, because it became a shel­ter.

Also some solarpunk motives there, with kind of bio­di­ver­si­ty and kind of main­tain­ing seeds and stuff like that. But there’s some­thing like a mix of a post-apocalyptic decay and then this hope in this one place. And I love that sto­ry, but then it’s repeat­ed, that thing you know, let’s cre­ate great things after the apoc­a­lypse. And I felt like, good, that’s one future. Hopefully we’re going to get oth­ers.

And anoth­er tour was by an emerg­ing polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion called Two States One Homeland. They’re actu­al­ly going against the two-state solu­tion that has not been real­ly prov­ing itself. And they’re say­ing no, we don’t need sep­a­ra­tion, we need to live togeth­er. We need to have two gov­ern­ments and we need to open bor­ders. We need a con­fed­er­a­tion, basi­cal­ly, between Israel and Palestine.

And I was like okay…right. But then from that frame­work of real­ly chal­leng­ing myself I went like yeah. Let them… How does it look like? And then the loca­tion that they chose is very inter­est­ing. They chose the vil­lage of Silwan. The vil­lage Silwan is a vil­lage in East Jerusalem, and it’s very con­test­ed because the set­tlers that are invad­ing that vil­lage are try­ing to push the res­i­dents out of that vil­lage. At the same time there are also archae­o­log­i­cal projects to study the his­to­ry of the City of David,” where appar­ent­ly his­tor­i­cal­ly that’s where King David’s court used to be. And it’s a whole set­tler project to kind of argue for the his­to­ry… for the Jewish right to the place.

Now it’s true, appar­ent­ly, that that’s part of the his­to­ry of the place, but while they’re doing that they’re also wip­ing the Palestinian his­to­ry of that place. In the future that was pro­posed by two of the founders of this move­ment, this spe­cif­ic site is becom­ing a shared archae­o­log­i­cal site. And both Palestinian and Israeli archae­ol­o­gists are work­ing on find­ing the dif­fer­ent his­to­ries of that spe­cif­ic place. So beyond the fact that it’s real­ly excit­ing to hear that, and…you feel a bit guilty about enjoy­ing it because all of your defense sys­tems are going like, No, noooo, it can’t hap­pen,” and like, no no, I want it to hap­pen. But I want it to hap­pen so let’s fig­ure out how to get there. And they’re not only look­ing at plur­al futures, they’re also look­ing at plur­al pasts. So there’s some­thing about plac­ing that option of utopia—and this is the most utopi­an of the eight tours—that is real­ly pow­er­ful. [applause]

de Bastion: It’s a super inter­est­ing for­mat I think you’ve devel­oped. Before we dis­cuss that a lit­tle bit and open the floor for your ques­tions, I’d like to ask Maya… She’s pre­pared a lit­tle inter­ven­tion for us, and I think it’s a great time to hear that.


Ganesh: Thanks. It’s not real­ly an inter­ven­tion. I’m not gonna make you do any­thing. But yeah. It’s an intel­lec­tu­al inter­ven­tion. Yeah, it’s just a pre­sen­ta­tion, it’s a reg­u­lar pre­sen­ta­tion.

de Bastion: I thought I’d give it a cool name.

Ganesh: I’ll tell you a lit­tle bit of the back­ground to my inter­ven­tion or con­tri­bu­tion to this dis­cus­sion. So last year when Republica had an event in Thessaloniki, Republica Thessaloniki, Mushon invit­ed me to do a lit­tle pre­sen­ta­tion with him. And he talked about some of the things that I think he pre­sent­ed here. And I had just come back from some­thing called the Planetary Futures Summer School, which was actu­al­ly run by Orit Halpern, who was also a keynote speak­er here a few days ago. And Orit is a ped­a­gogue, and aca­d­e­m­ic, and a men­tor of mine.

And so the Planetary Futures Summer School took place at Concordia University and there were about twen­ty of us PhD stu­dents who looked at themes of extrac­tion, colo­nial­ism, and spec­u­la­tion to ask about what does it mean to actu­al­ly inhab­it the cat­a­stro­phe. And what hap­pened in that time was I found myself tak­ing a lot of pho­tographs, post­ing them on Instagram, wher­ev­er there was a con­nec­tion, because we were kind of in the rur­al north of Canada for a while at an open pit gold mine where you actu­al­ly don’t have Internet con­nec­tions. And so we were encoun­ter­ing things like gold mines and water­ways and think­ing about our con­nec­tion to the plan­et itself.

So I was tak­ing all of these pho­tographs and then lat­er I kind of put them togeth­er as a sto­ry on Instagram and then I made that into a pre­sen­ta­tion that we did in Thessaloniki. So this is… Well, I did­n’t have enough time for the sto­ry here, but I thought I’d focus on this idea of exit, and this is par­tic­u­lar­ly inspired by the work of Sarah Sharma, who’s also an aca­d­e­m­ic at the University of Toronto. And her work is real­ly about a fem­i­nist per­spec­tive on the idea of exit and the way that exit emerges in our nar­ra­tives around spec­u­la­tion, utopi­an, and dystopia. Who gets to leave? And why do we want to leave? Who are the peo­ple with the capac­i­ty to leave?

So for exam­ple, we hear a lot about Elon Musk putting a car into space, or want­i­ng to ter­raform Mars. Google hav­ing its Lunar X Prize and want­i­ng to mine the moon. There’s even a film from 2011 called Another Earth—it’s a real­ly bad film—but the plot in the film is about how there’s actu­al­ly anoth­er ver­sion of Earth out there. It’s a com­plete repli­ca. So it does­n’t mat­ter what you do here, because we’re going to go to anoth­er Earth any­way and we’re going to start over there.

So these sorts of ideas about start­ing over and exit­ing and going some­where else are actu­al­ly inher­ent­ly colo­nial because this is kind of what hap­pened in a lot of colo­nial times as well. A lot of coun­tries that even­tu­al­ly became colo­nial rulers and mas­ters were fac­ing sit­u­a­tions of cri­sis and had to go some­where else to shore up their economies and to devel­op more spaces to extract nat­ur­al resources. So going to the moon is a lit­tle bit colo­nial in that sense. And the sto­ry that I wrote from the Planetary Futures Summer School was about actu­al­ly a sci­en­tist, a woman sci­en­tist who’s elite and gets to go to the moon and work there, and is rumi­nat­ing on this idea that you know, why did she get to exit? Why did she get to go and be a colo­nial­ist and start over. But felt good that the work she was doing on the moon was actu­al­ly help­ing peo­ple back on Earth.

So the thing is this is not so spec­u­la­tive, actu­al­ly. The European Space Agency does have a moon vil­lage project. It’s a very real thing. And they’ve been doing work­shops with artists and archi­tects and design­ers to try and imag­ine how we might inhab­it the moon. But also talk­ing to social sci­en­tists and human­i­ties schol­ars and artists about how will we deal with soci­ety on the moon? And it’s almost as if none of us are look­ing at these ques­tions now here on Earth and as if we have to deal with them for the first time again on the moon. Except that there are actually…outer space and the moon is kind of legally…there are black holes, and we don’t know how to actu­al­ly nego­ti­ate rela­tion­ships in places like that.

The oth­er thing where I also see these ideas of exit and who gets to exit is in things like tran­shu­man­ism, or the idea that we can edit genet­ic code. It’s this idea of kind of escap­ing time, escap­ing the body. And it’s seen as hack­ing,” and I think hack­ing it is a pos­i­tive thing. Or the use of genet­ics. Like I want to show you some­thing I read about CRISPR. And CRISPR is gene-editing tech­nol­o­gy. This is a quote from Bill Gates writ­ing in Foreign Affairs.

For instance, sophis­ti­cat­ed geospa­tial sur­veil­lance sys­tems, com­bined with com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­el­ing and sim­u­la­tion, will make it pos­si­ble to tai­lor anti­malar­i­al efforts to unique local con­di­tions. Gene edit­ing can play a big role, too. There are more than 3,500 known mos­qui­to species world­wide, but just a hand­ful of them are any good at trans­mit­ting malar­ia par­a­sites between peo­ple. Only female mos­qui­toes can spread malar­ia, and so researchers have used CRISPR to suc­cess­ful­ly cre­ate gene drives—making inher­i­ta­ble edits to their genes—that cause females to become ster­ile or skew them toward pro­duc­ing most­ly male off­spring.
Bill Gates, Gene Editing for Good, Foreign Affairs May/June 2018 [pre­sen­ta­tion slide]

Of course Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation has been doing a lot of work on malar­ia, not all of it very suc­cess­ful. But I found this para­graph real­ly inter­est­ing. So using sophis­ti­cat­ed geospa­tial sur­veil­lance, com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­el­ing, and simulation—all high-tech stuff—to then iden­ti­fy where malar­ia out­breaks are, and then edit the genes of female mos­qui­toes because these are the ones that trans­mit malar­ia and cre­ate most­ly male off­spring, which don’t. And that’s all great. And I think it would be awe­some to erad­i­cate dis­eases like malar­ia, except that we have to go back to kind of old­er ques­tions about who con­trols this tech­nol­o­gy and what does it mean when you can go into a place and like, change the ecosys­tem by just pro­duc­ing more male mos­qui­toes as a solu­tion to a prob­lem that it’s not like peo­ple haven’t been work­ing on these prob­lems.

So these are kind of oth­er ideas of how we might want to exit the prob­lems that we face. So recent­ly I was in a pre­sen­ta­tion about work by Anna Tsing, who’s anoth­er won­der­ful aca­d­e­m­ic and has worked close­ly with Donna Haraway. And she’s work­ing on a new project at the University of Copenhagen that looks amaz­ing and I’m look­ing for­ward to when it comes out. It’s called The Feral Atlas. And I was hear­ing about it a few weeks ago and it’s based on this idea that the plan­et and the cli­mate that we inhab­it is not uni­form­ly bad. They are not uni­form­ly expe­ri­enc­ing dev­as­ta­tion in the same way every­where. And there are these effects that we’ve had on our plan­et where there are patchy out­breaks of feralities—is fer­al­i­ty a word? Maybe. Or fer­al­ness maybe. And the ques­tion they posed is what hap­pens if you embrace the hor­ror, and you actu­al­ly embrace the shock.

The remains of a bird, mostly just bones and feathers, with a pile of small plastic objects where its belly would be.

And one of the things that’s going to be part of that project is this. And many of you prob­a­bly know this image. It’s by the pho­tog­ra­ph­er Chris Jordan and it’s called Midway: Message from the Gyre. And it is a pic­ture of an alba­tross which he called Shed Bird, and this is what is in the alba­tross’ stom­ach. And we have to face our effect on the plan­et through the pic­ture of this bird.

So, the Feral Atlas project asks, what hap­pens if you actu­al­ly stay with the hor­ror and the shock, and you don’t exit, and you don’t leave? What hap­pens then? How do you face the pro­pa­gan­da, the dis­in­for­ma­tion, the shit and the vio­lence? How does your strat­e­gy change and what are your tac­tics? And I think a lot of the great projects peo­ple have been talk­ing about here have been about doing the old, bor­ing, mun­dane stuff of kind of find­ing ways to inspire our­selves to stay with the trou­ble.

And so I want to end with two sto­ries of very dif­fer­ent con­text about women in India and Pakistan who are actu­al­ly deal­ing with con­di­tions of restrict­ed mobil­i­ty and vio­lence in their city. So the first is Girls @ Dhabas. A dha­ba is a tea stall. So this is a project out of Lahore, and it’s about women rid­ing bicy­cles, hang­ing out in tea shops, and drink­ing tea. Which is the most, mun­dane bor­ing activ­i­ty if you’re man who already owns pub­lic space. But if you’re a woman, what does it take to actu­al­ly embrace that fear and that hor­ror of say­ing no, I’m just gonna hang out and you know, drink tea.

Or there’s Blank Noise from Bangalore, anoth­er won­der­ful group of peo­ple who they call them­selves action heroes. And they do real­ly mun­dane stuff like this, where if you’ve been to India you know it’s very com­mon for men to just…first of all occu­py a lot of pub­lic space, but also do stuff like sleep in parks. And you know, espe­cial­ly in a city like Bangalore where you have amaz­ing parks, it’s one of the nicest things to do. But you are not going to be an Indian woman sleep­ing in a park in the mid­dle of the day. That’s just…that’s too dan­ger­ous. So they encour­age each oth­er to actu­al­ly just take naps in parks, and that’s all you have to do—it’s as sim­ple as that.

And I con­tin­ue to go back to these kinds of exam­ples where you have to kind of feel things and be new and dif­fer­ent things, with and in your body, and basi­cal­ly not exit and just face the shock and hor­ror. Thanks. [applause]


Geraldine de Bastion: Thank you. Thank you Maya. I want to open this up for ques­tions from you guys. Can you do us a favor and, unless you’re sit­ting in the first row please come to the mid­dle Oh no, lights. Alright then, nev­er mind what I said. Pavel, would you like to go first? There’s a micro­phone com­ing your way.

Audience 1: So, good morn­ing. My name is Pavel. First I want­ed to thank you, because I think that this is a real­ly huge thing and we should be cre­at­ing new visions for the future. And I want­ed to ask exact­ly about that. Because in the very first notes toward a man­i­festo of solarpunk, it was stat­ed that it should be a move­ment for more than just the white West. And when I’m talk­ing to peo­ple from out­side of Europe, out­side of the US, I find they still fol­low the dreams that they are sold by the neolib­er­als, the tran­shu­man­ists, and the cyber­punks. And I was actu­al­ly talk­ing to an Egyptian mak­er who is basi­cal­ly imple­ment­ing all the solarpunk ideas, and he was open­ly stat­ing that he wants to bring the cyber­punk future. Because for him this was the future. So my ques­tion is, how can we actu­al­ly approach peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tures. From Africa, both North Africa and Middle East, from Sub-Saharan Africa. From Asia, South America. How can we encour­age them to cre­ate their own nar­ra­tive in the frame­work of solarpunk, of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, of work­ing cross-culturally, with­out giv­ing up your own iden­ti­ty? Thank you.

de Bastion: Thank you.

Andrew Dana Hudson: Yeah. So, the notes towards a man­i­festo’s writ­ten by my friend Adam Flynn and you should all go read it. But yeah, you’re total­ly right that this is sort of a set­up that’s real­ly meant to be a jumping-off point for a lot of oth­er types of futures that aren’t just solarpunk futures but are indige­nous futures, and afro futures, and dis­abled futures, and much more about try­ing to give futures to peo­ple that have been erased from so many of the sto­ries that we’re told about who’s going to be on Mars and what their cul­ture is going to be like. I mean, even things like Star Trek, which noto­ri­ous­ly has a lot of diver­si­ty in it. There’s lots of peo­ple in that don’t get to be in the 24th cen­tu­ry. So, I myself just want to courage peo­ple to go out and fig­ure out how to tell the sto­ries of peo­ple that pre­vi­ous­ly did­n’t get to show up in a lot of those visions.

Mushon Zer-Aviv: I think anoth­er answer is like, what Maya just showed. Like that pic­ture of women sleep­ing in the park real­ly looks sim­i­lar to what Andrew was show­ing in his pre­sen­ta­tion. Like, appar­ent­ly there is some­thing shared about what we val­ue. Obviously there’s—and I argued that con­stant­ly about the need for plu­ral­i­ty in the way we’re think­ing about futures. But there’s also the need for mobi­liza­tion, and col­lab­o­ra­tion, and com­mon ground. So I think there’s room for these things to hap­pen, and they’re not nec­es­sar­i­ly… Correct me if I’m wrong, but I under­stand that solarpunk did not start in the Western world,” right? It developed…Brazil was an ini­tia­tor there and so on. So I think we’re chan­nel­ing a lot of ideas through stages like this one, which is not in Brazil, but this is not the ori­gin, we’re just a chan­nel.

Maya Indira Ganesh: I just think that peo­ple are also kind of mak­ing their futures. It’s maybe not about us…I don’t know who us is. There is no uni­form us.” But just, it’s not about us tak­ing or shar­ing those ideas. I think some of those nar­ra­tives and prac­tices may already be there, and it’s a ques­tion of do they get infra­struc­ture or oth­er kinds of sup­port to sus­tain those things. And maybe the big­ger ques­tion that I’m always left with at the end of these dis­cus­sions is about scale, and what is our notion of some­thing scal­ing for it to be suc­cess­ful? Maybe some things have to hap­pen on a small, local scale. A lot of ideas that we have of spec­u­la­tion are about land­scape, huge land­slides of change, you know—and maybe it isn’t always like that, and the small, bor­ing sto­ries that con­tin­ue to hap­pen that are sig­nif­i­cant.

de Bastion: I’m sor­ry those of you still rais­ing your hands but we’ve run out of time, and—

Zer-Aviv: The meet­up.

de Bastion: Exactly. Exactly, Mushon. I was just going to say but, you are still going to get anoth­er chance to ask your ques­tions and meet these won­der­ful peo­ple who I’ve had the priv­i­lege to share this last hour on the pan­el with. Because like I said this is only the penulti­mate ses­sion in the Cancel the Apocalypse track. We have a meet­up com­ing up. And it’s going to hap­pen, what bet­ter place could we have wished for, in the out­er area of the mak­er space. So if you fol­low all the way through the Stage 1 hall to the back of our net­work­ing area and out­side and you see this black [faberville?] bus… Which is also a lit­tle bit of design­ing the future. They’re going around to places which are sort of no jobs, dire, impov­er­ished, and show­ing kids how to make cool stuff. And so we thought that was a great place to meet up for the Cancel the Apocalypse meet­up, where we’d like to meet with you guys who are out there design­ing these pos­i­tive futures or just have more need to debate these top­ics, and con­tin­ue the dis­cus­sion there. Thank you so much for com­ing and join­ing this pan­el, and thank you so much Mushon, Andrew, Maya, Steven. This was a great dis­cus­sion. Thank you.

Further Reference

SolarPunk and going Post-Post-Apocalyptic ses­sion page


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