Subscribe to the Solarpunk Magazine blog today!
Panel 7 – October 2023
Symbiosis Between Energy and Nature?
Upon crossing the countryside surrounding the solarpunk city on a bike, a boat or a train, a visitor from our world would feel a bit disconcerted.
Where are the monocultures that once upon a time spread as far as the eye could see? And what are all those solar panels doing there? And most of all, who let the sheep out in the olive grove?
Agroecology techniques have replaced for the most part the industrial agriculture paradigm of the Late Stage.
Fields are no longer “flat factories” meant to extract resources, but fully realized eco-systems which support biodiversity as well as human wellbeing.
Concepts like food forests and agro-silvo-pastoralism are very popular, people talk about them at the bar, as much as once they talked about the stock exchange.
Climate adaptation has changed farmers’ habits: some crops, no longer suitable to a hotter, more extreme climate, have been abandoned, while others have been introduced (bananas from Puglia and coffee from Sicily are now common sights).
To protect their precious crops from the Sun, some farmers have converted to agrosolar, installing solar panels between crop rows or shading the whole field. Some of these covers have curious shapes: the solar panels are arranged in a semi sphere.
Berries, salad leaves, citrus fruits and tea (from Liguria, like pesto) are much happier, and rural communities have a source of energetic sovereignty without having to sacrifice either Nature or Agriculture.
Now that profit is no longer the main decision-making factor, the solarpunk world is full of creative and innovative solutions.
Panel 6 – August 2023
Every year between April and November the solarpunk city is transformed. Flowers, fruits and crops of all sorts appear on balconies and terraces and community allotments, in flower beds and even on bush shelters sometimes.
Maybe the city is not quite self-sufficient food-wise, and lives in strict symbiosis with the countryside that surrounds it, but during the right season it still gets hit with waves of abundance.
The residents celebrate the fresh produce. They organize open-air feasts in gardens and orchards, centered on strawberries, tomatoes or courgettes, each in its season, but for the most part there is more fresh food that can be consumed, even through repeated parties.
The residents then gather again in the community centers of each neighborhood and pull out pressure cookers, autoclaves, drying lattices and driers, and a truly astonishing quantity of glass jars, and work together for days on end, sometimes weeks, turning that cornucopia into jams, preserves and conserves of all kind.
Garlic braids, chili garlands and dried tomato mosaics, laid out on lattices adorn every building, and the shelves of the community pantries groan under the weight of hundreds of glass jars, all duly labeled.
All around educators and childcare volunteers help the young ones take part in the proceedings, or keep them occupied while their adults work.
Someone even plays the guitar to entertain the workers. It is basically a party all over again.
Nearby a group of fiber artists uses peels, seeds and other off-cuts to make pigments and dye yarn made from hemp, flax and nettles.
Compost piles grow taller and fatter with new material. By the time Spring comes around again, it will be ready to nurture new harvests.
In the solarpunk city abundance is never wasted, it is shared with everyone.
Panel 5 – July 2023
Depaving: how to grow fruits and vegetables in the solarpunk city?
Today cities are crammed with parking lots, multi-lane speedways, garages, and gas stations. What will happen to these toxic relics of the past in the solarpunk city?
They will be reclaimed and returned to the community!
Residents band together in self-organized work teams, and with the help of crowbars and pickaxes, they rip out the tarmac, revealing the ground underneath.
Gardeners, permaculture experts and rewilders rush in with cartloads of compost donated by neighbors, and turn non-places into gardens, allotments, and biodiverse habitats for invertebrates, birds, and small mammals.
Even the fuel tanks of the gas stations can be reused once they’ve been reclaimed. Now they’re water reservoirs for the dry season, which fill up slowly during autumn and winter thanks to water harvesting systems.
Where only cars dared to roll, now there’s a pocket meadow, or a food forest, or an allotment where the neighbors can plant local, healthy food.
Nearby, a group of young volunteers are climbing on a van (electric, with sodium batteries) from the Rewilding Guild. They’re off to depave most of the lanes of the A1 motorway, now almost unused, and turn it into Europe’s longest linear park.
But fear not! There are enough paved surfaces for bicycles, wheelchairs, baby strollers, scooters, and pedestrians, and even for the few cars and vans still in use.
The difference is that now cities are no longer built around cars: they are merely guests.
Panel 4 – June 2023
Waste or resource?
The insane production rhythms of the Late Stage are a thing of the past, but coffee remains one of the favorite beverages of the solarpunk city.
Its citizens meet for a chat over a cappuccino and a croissant, or discuss the management of the commons in their civic centers, helped along by thermoses of filter coffee and trays of food provided by the food sovereignty groups.
Espresso, cappuccino, turkish coffee, coffee masala, bubble coffee, and what have you, in the solarpunk city it is truly a transcultural phenomenon.
But what is to be done with the exhaust grounds?
In the solarpunk city there is no concept of waste or garbage. Everything is a resource that should be used wisely to the benefit of nature and community.
Every day, teams of workers from the local permaculture groups do the rounds of bars, restaurants and community kitchens on their cargo bikes collecting food scraps for their compost heaps. Since they have special uses, coffee and a few other materials are collected separately, following a shared calendar together with individual quotas and collection schemes to enable all participants to benefit.
In the communal mushroom farms, built in the basements of most condos throughout the city, experienced mushroom growers from the food sovereignty groups use prodigious amounts of grounds as a substrate for growing a cornucopia of different kinds of mushrooms to put on the tables of their fellow citizens.
Eaten fresh in risottos and stir frys, dried or turned into vegan substitutes of bacon and jerky, mushrooms provide sustainable, local protein for the solarpunk city, as well as construction biomaterials, vegan leather and pharmaceuticals.
The humble coffee grounds, useful for mushrooms and an incredible variety of other plants, are also a load-bearing element of the city’s sustainable strategy.
Panel 3 – May 2023
What does sustainable mobility mean in the solarpunk city?
In the solarpunk city, private cars have become an exception rather than the rule, and their numbers no longer justify the spaces they had taken. The citizens transform parking lots, junctions and roads into spaces for nature and community. In Milan, the people re-open the Navigli and the other canals which had made the city prosper in the Middle Ages and which had been covered in the 50s and 60s to make space for cars.
Emys Orbicularis is a solar-powered water bus. She is named after one of the species of freshwater turtles that can be found in Italy, with which she shares a certain resemblance because of its shell, made of solar panels. Water buses like this ply the waters, bringing travelers, workers and students across the city. With a little bit of patience, one can get to Pavia, the Lakes and the Po, on a boat or along the long-distance cycle paths, fully equipped to welcome all travelers.
People travel without haste, and without emissions.
Panel 2 – April 2023
How does a solarpunk city exchange goods with other solarpunk communities across the globe?
The members of an Ethical Purchasing Group (EPG) get their heads together and send a purchase request directly to consortia of small producers, who prepare the orders and get in touch with transport cooperatives for shipment. Federated platforms help EPGs and producers to keep in touch and plan regular and ad-hoc shipments in the most effective and efficient way. Sailing ships, traditionally built or high-tech, ply the routes of the Mediterranean, hopping from port to port to load and unload all sorts of goods. They belong to cooperatives who collect shipments directly from local producers. Once in port, the crews unload the goods on cargo trains which carry them towards regional exchange centers and cargo railyards.
Here, local cooperatives load them on cargo filobus, which use green energy directly from the federated mains to carry them to various neighborhoods, towns and villages on their route. Delegates from the EPGs go fetch their purchases from designated cargo bus stops, on their cargo bikes, electric or not, or with carts, wheelbarrows and whatever else is at hand, and bring them to the EPG meeting hall, where they are distributed among all members. In turn, local producers hand over their goods to the transport cooperatives, so that they can start their trip in the reverse direction towards communities near and far. Exchanges are planned to be fair and equal from the outset.
Panel 1 – March 2023
How do people move around the solarpunk city?
With public transportation which has been enormously expanded. Private transportation is mostly limited to adapted vehicles for special mobility needs, and vehicles are available through shared ownership schemes.
It is concert season in the solarpunk city and Webby has decided to go to the Auditorium on her Isetta EV, specially adapted for people with her mobility needs. It can be boarded through a ramp, and the steering, which features an extra wheel to control brakes and accelerator, can be moved out of the way to allow Webby to board and disembark seamlessly. Strictly speaking, the car is not just hers… It is part of a dedicated car-sharing scheme, managed through a municipalized distributed ownership programme. Next to her, Diego, a sight-impaired musician, follows the orange path painted on the floor towards the Auditorium: the sensors in his next-gen walking stick can tell him where to turn and how far it is.
Follow us on social media
©2021 Android Press, LLC