Many humans have a tendency to focus on negative outcomes. Well yes, in general, it is easier to see problems and risks instead of opportunities and possibilities. It's the well-known "yes, but" instead of "yes, and." To some degree, this is the basis for grim, dark futures like tech-/ societal-dystopian Cyberpunk scenarios, for example.

Solarpunk is the complete opposite.

Solarpunk "envisions how the future might look if humanity succeeded in solving major contemporary challenges with an emphasis on sustainability problems such as climate change and pollution" and where inclusion and diversity shape our coexistence. Though rooted in arts, the boundaries are fluent to areas like lifestyle and activism. The "punk" is there for a reason.

Here are three recommendations to start your journey:

"But Marco, where is the business in that?" Maybe there isn't one. Maybe it's more focused on side projects instead of a new business. First and foremost, I want to share this positive stance with you.

Then again, Solarpunk is as good a niche as any. The article from Vice linked above does a great job of showing how diverse the topic is. Let's do a quick idea brief based on this overview. One thing I don't mention each time is "build a focused community." That's a no-brainer.

  • Renewable energy sources. The tech itself may be too much for an indie hacker. Yet finding a way to educate and connect people can be an approach.
  • Decentralization of energy/ tech/ power. Another angle for educational projects. Also, two-sided platforms or exchanges come to mind. And this might be one of the rare cases where a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) could be interesting.
  • Alternative business models. Think "people and the planet over individuals and profit." Again, educate people about alternative forms of companies like cooperatives or provide platforms to easily start one. And seen from the solution space, another rare use case for DAOs.
  • Biomimicry. Have a look at Festo's Bionic Learning Network and especially Bionics4Education.
  • Lifestyle. Help shoppers find the "right stuff", including information about the supply chain.
  • Arts and creative projects as marketing. Here's to the Creator Economy: provide tools, courses, platforms, channels, shops, etc. to promote Solarpunk related content. Like the upcoming Solarpunk Magazine.
  • Games as a channel. A special form of the "arts" category: create positive experiences around Solarpunk. Leverage platforms like Roblox and Minecraft.
  • Nonfiction work. Show people how beautiful nature is. This could be as simple as selling "sounds of nature." Or views.
  • Seed library. Find ways to sell and/ or exchange seeds. This may sound trivial, yet in Germany, for example, we have the Saatgutverkehrsgesetz (roughly translates to "seed marketing act.") And that law prohibits the distribution of your self-collected seeds. It does not matter whether the seeds are sold, given away, or exchanged. Let that sink in.
  • Permablitzing. Well, if you are not allowed to exchange seeds, then plant them. Permablitzing is activities to create or add to edible gardens or to share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living. Build a platform to connect people.
  • Small scale regenerative agriculture and old indigenous agricultural and living systems. Another opportunity to educate people around traditional, sustainable practices. You don't even have to look as far as indigenous cultures still deeply rooted in a balance with nature. What industrial nations label as "organic" was the usual way of farming just some decades ago.

If you need more ideas, find a related community and listen there. A quick look at Reddit shows that r/solarpunk is quite small with 42.5k members at the moment. Adjacent subreddits like r/worldbuilding (774k), r/scifi (2.5m), r/ImaginaryTechnology (221k), r/Fantasy (1.5m), and r/Futurology (15.6m) might be worth a look.

Or for a more general look at problems at hand:

As the great Dr. Emmett Brown said: "Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one."

This post is based on Basic Problem issue #47.

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