“Solarpunk can do what merely intellectual arguments of better governance, of democracy, even of ecological collapse and the natural sciences, cannot: entice the average person, in particular, the established and new middle classes from across the world. If this potential is not tapped into in liberal and democratic societies, wide swathes of global populations will likely begin to look towards the paternalist and authoritarian powers that are already beginning to cast themselves as furnishers of solarpunk spaces and lifestyles (see previous article).
As authoritarianism will seem more appealing, democracy will continue to recede across the world and islands of “gated community” solarpunk-ish cities like Singapore and Dubai will win the hearts and minds of the world’s population.
But, if solarpunk is employed in tandem with processes of deepening democracy, more in line with its original ethos, it can scaffold and guide the steps of transformations that are not just aesthetically superficial, but ones that will reshape the social structure, human relations, and even our minds and emotions.
When solarpunk entices us within a democratic setting, it also draws us into a certain social logic that flows from attempts to manifest its visions: If we are to recreate public spaces through the participatory design of the many, we are compelled to find answers to how this is to be done, and issues that have hitherto appeared cumbersome and irrelevant can begin to engage citizens and lead to a development of governance that I have called democratization politics. And if we build more decentralized power grids, these become increasingly rooted in local communities, which highlights issues of what I have called Gemeinschaft politics. When people begin to reimagine their urban environments, this leads not only to Protopian ideas of what can be improved or be made more sustainable, but just as importantly to an ongoing renegotiations of social relations in society.
As I argued in the last article, there is a “good slippery slope” inherent in solarpunk that leads from more superficial concerns and aesthetic lure towards issues of civic engagement and social innovation—which aligns with what I call Protopian or metamodern design patterns of society. My hypothesis is that solarpunk is a gateway drug or trojan horse for metamodernism to take hold in mainstream society.”
What does it take to transform a city like Berlin into a Solarpunk Mecca?
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