By Shel Graves
Every year after I send in my taxes, I also write my representatives and let them know my spending priorities. Don't you?
I figure if I can take the time to tell my government what my little piece of their budget is, I can let them know what I'd want them to do with it.
In this troubling year, I found myself surprisingly focused. My letter was short with three points:
That last point is a great playground for optimistic science fiction. I love the power to imagine a better future. What's fun is that solar, of the moment, already seems sci-fi. It's an innovative and creative field. Harnessing the power of the sun, right?
Even though I live in a rain-soaked city, it's not surprising I'm thinking solar.
My good friend has been telling me about her work in the field. Women are innovating in sustainable energy (wrisenergy.org and powerhouse.fund), leading the solar sphere (seia.org and sepapower.org), and imagining a better today. Right now, teams of women are installing community solar systems at no cost.
Meanwhile, I've been imagining far out utopian futures, "…the flickering light of a better world, for the moment accessible only through an act of imagination," as Ruth Levitas says in Utopia as Method.
When I told a friend about my story forthcoming in Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers, he had to Google "solarpunk."
Solarpunk is a term of this decade and hasn't yet taken its place in Merriam-Webster with steampunk and cyberpunk genres. It's fun to be pre-dictionary and joining the conversation about futures founded on renewable energies.
However, as much as I'm excited by technology, as a devotee of feminist utopias (which focus on social and ecological futures), in my own imagining I don't look to scientific "stuff" to solve our problems.
I always see transforming our selves — our ability to become more compassionate, empathic, connected — as the key to unlocking utopia.
So, true to form, in my story "Watch Out, Red Crusher!" people provide the solar power and our relationships are what's at stake.
The premise stretches the bounds of current tech, but I don't think it's that far-fetched!
My story takes place during a summer festival and I was excited to read about this real life one — Utopian Acts.
"Utopia is not a blueprint, but a conversation," say the festival founders.
Utopia, it's us: saying what we want and ever moving in that way.
Shel Graves is a reader, writer, and utopian thinker who lives by the Salish Sea. She works as a caregiver at Pasado's Safe Haven, a non-profit on a mission to end animal cruelty. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College. She keeps her writer's journal at shelgraves.blogspot.com. Talk to her @Utopianista on Twitter and see pictures of her furry companions @Sheltopia on Instagram.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.