Reach for the Sun: The art of changing the world with solar

What do you imagine when you hear the phrase solar power? Photovoltaic panels. Power grids. Gigawatts. Distributed systems. Sometimes, industry technicality and jargon can be so overwhelming that it makes solar energy feel impersonal, abstract, and inaccessible. And this often hinders us from seeing the essence of solar for what it truly is — a nurturing light that is available to all human beings and has the potential to power a new kind of world system. Did you know that solar can:

  • Meet 70% of the world’s energy needs by 2040. 
  • Help us prevent climate change as a zero carbon energy source.
  • Lift millions out of poverty, by providing opportunities for those living and working without a power grid.

And most importantly, it can enable everyone to thrive. It’s a hugely powerful opportunity there for the taking, should we choose.

At Little Sun, we believe that a shift in imagination is crucial to creating this better way of life, to finally elicit a tipping point in people’s hearts and minds towards renewables. Solar power has, for too long, been held in the domain of technical reports and political debates. To activate everyone to drive the global shift to renewable energy, we believe now is the time to make solar felt emotionally, make it compelling to connect with, and clear how to bring about. 

With our most recent campaign, Reach for the Sun, we turn technical into personal, abstract into tactile, inaccessible into intimate. To tell the story of solar power, we wanted to simplify what a solar powered world means – breaking down often complex messages into clear steps. We also wanted to present the viewer with vivid, memorable images that capture the imagination. And what better way to do this than to turn the conversation into artwork?

Phase 3 of Reach for the Sun: Engage. Artwork by Diana Ejaita for Little Sun.

That’s how Reach for the Sun: Ten steps to creating a solar powered world was born. The creative hero behind the project is Diana Ejaita, a talented Berlin-based illustrator and textile designer whose work appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Economist. She produced the artwork for each step, illustrating the profound impact the sun has on our everyday lives and inspiring people to share their passion for solar power. 

“We worked hand in hand with Diana throughout the project, discussing different influences, approaches, palettes, styles, signs and symbols, and how we could bring to life this notion of literally connecting with the sun,” explains Charlotte Webster, Head of Communications at Little Sun. “As it’s a digital campaign, we were particularly interested in how moving imagery might work and this turned out to be a key element of the project thanks to the great design team at Fraser Muggeridge Studio in London. Our goal was to create a new visual language around solar power and that sat at the heart of every discussion we had as a creative team.” 

The research informing the campaign, supported by IKEA Foundation, started in 2020 and included interviews with global thought leaders across climate change, campaigning, development, energy access, and renewable energy. Our team studied publications on climate communications, psychology and campaign building as well as on the green transition and systems change. 

“We knew that the majority of people are now concerned about climate change, but the issue is that they don’t know what to do to bring about meaningful change. So we spent a lot of time considering the most powerful actions people can take for the climate, and how to genuinely shift the conversation from fear to hope” says Webster who led the production.

“We knew that if we have to single out one thing we can all do, it is to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Energy production is the main cause of climate change, that’s clear, so changing that is the most powerful way to tackle the problem. Thankfully it is possible to power most of the world on solar, as this type of energy is now the cheapest form of electricity generation in history. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the issue of consciousness – that this shift seems unimaginable and the challenge too overwhelming to most people. In order to shift consciousness and break this paralysis, we not only synthesized the ten most practical ways for people to bring about a world powered by the sun; but tried to focus on imagination and emotion from the very start.”

The journey to every significant change begins with feeling. So does the Reach for the Sun campaign. Artwork by Diana Ejaita for Little Sun.

A key element of Reach for the Sun are the three stages of the ten steps divided into feel, change, and engage. From feeling the transformative power of the sun with a mindful meditation exercise; to the practicalities of changing energy suppliers and divestment; to community activism and political engagement.

“We didn’t want to begin by diving straight into behavior change. We believe that every journey to change begins with feeling,” explains Webster. “There’s a lot of research showing that our feelings shape what we believe in and drive what we do. Thus, the sun meditation video we created felt like an interesting place to begin. In developing this we collaborated with a Buddhist Monk, which is probably a first in many ways! Essentially, we wanted to explore new avenues. This was based on the premise that to create a better future, it’s time to explore how to connect with the sun. Our fixation with looking for energy underground has led us in the wrong direction for far too long. If we reach for the sun now, we stand a very real chance of creating a thriving world for us all.”

This mindful exercise, part of #ReachForTheSun​, urges everyone to pause, touch the sun, and feel its potential. Video by Little Sun. 

If you want to support the campaign and share your passion for solar with the world, you can: 

“It’s time for us all – whether from the worlds of arts, culture, renewables, the public or private sector – to come together and envision a world in which everybody has access to clean energy, no matter where they live. Whether you live in Sub-Saharan Africa or Texas, USA – we should all be able to power our lives with affordable, renewable energy,” explains Webster.

“At Little Sun, we’ve already helped provide clean power and light to over 3.2 million people who are living off the grid, but with Reach for the Sun, we wanted to help people everywhere to transition to solar power. As an organization, we believe that the world will be fundamentally a better place if it’s powered by the sun, and we are confident that we can create a future in which everybody thrives. It’s just a matter of us all creating this world together.”

Reach for the Sun is part of the newly created culture program by Little Sun that is designed to engage creatives in climate action and craft new narratives that guide humanity to a better future. The campaign is supported by IKEA Foundation, endorsed by the Global Solar Council, the trade body for the world’s solar energy industry, with partners including The Climate Museum, Community Arts Network, Judd Foundation, Sail GP, Sustainable Energy for All, SolarPower Europe, Efficiency for Access, GOGLA, and SELCO Foundation.