Beamspun 1: 19th April 2020


Local sunrise / publish time: 0456 UTC
Hoods up. Panels out. Welcome to the first "proper" Sunday Sol round-up, under a new Beamspun blog and brand. I'm still playing with the setup and the hosting, so let me know if there's any features or ideas you'd love to see - contact info down below.

This week, there are a lot of stories and discussion floating around, so I wanted to focus on these a bit. Caveat: I haven't read them yet! If you do and post a review somewhere, let me know.

Fictions and visions may not always feature so heavily, week-on-week. One of the aims of this newsletter is not to blindly accept shiny design and utopian dreams, but to kickstart discussion around feasibility, knock-on effects, details of implementation, and so on. Get the party started hard.

And to venture further into the realm of discussion, I've included a couple of paragraphs at the bottom of this round-up to highlight how what I post has got me thinking about what's going on. I don't know if I'll do this every week (hey, I'm busy) but when I do, I'll try to keep it more obviously 'personal', and right down at the end...

Otherwise, I'm trying not to overload things to start with. There are some amazing links out there, but I'll keep em back for next time, just to lure you all in ;-)

Here we go.

Sol Food

#art: From @caelstyx
Hand-drawn illustration of a lady in a flowing spacesuit with plants behind her, holding a strange cloud-handling device  
#words: Ecofictology's video guide to all the hashtags flying around

#stories: Miles Past Xanadu by Matt Stephens

#stories: The Parable of the Tares by Christopher Rowe

#stories: The Weight of Light, a collection of stories, art and essays, in a variety of formats

#picfiction: Imagining a mech-automated, Vertical Aeroponic Food Farm by @OJeyifous

#art: Some amazing designs by @Q1R0Z

Stylised illustration of a tribal-style, caped person with rays and halos emanating from his headStylised illustration of a lady in a flowing dress with a glowing halo around her head

Alva Noto - A Forest - remix of The Cure's original
#cities: Glasgow reimagined as a forest city:

New Narratives

#beyondstories: Paul Raven on defeating dread and digs into why we need more than just hope in solarpunk
#resources: The Sunbeam City wiki page should keep you busy for the next week, although it needs a few 70s sci-fi films added...

#background: A Solarpunk manifesto
#archive: I still find Bruce Sterling's Viridian Design Movement inspiring, and a key precursor to solarpunk

Practical Matter

#ideas: Parenting and Climate Change
#batteries: Wired looks at grid-scale vanadium batteries
#cells: Researchers developing an ultra-thin, flexible solar cell
#archive: Low-tech Magazine on How (Not) to Run a Modern Society on Solar and Wind Power Alone



I was originally going to use this image as the main picture for this newsletter:

(via reddit)
Curious, I followed the links to see where it was. The image is taken from a luxury hotel, the Parkroyal Collection Pickering in Singapore. It's a cool picture, but the "luxury" part stuck oddly in my fingers. Can only rich people afford green design? Should trees be seen as a luxury good? This didn't feel 'punk' at all. 'Punk' to me means disruptive, and if an image harks back to the status quo, what good is it?

So the image is down here, as a discussion piece instead. Discussion about where our visions and narratives come from, who owns them, and who we depend on in order to bring them to reality. If solarpunk as a genre is to avoid the clutches of commercial exploitation, it needs to weave this thread of (anti-)ownership into its core.


Get in touch

For any feedback, suggestions, comments, broken links, dodgy formatting, or any general 'hi there' type stuff, leave a comment, or you can find me hanging out in any of these places: