Things to Come: The 15 Minute City

Utopias Are Merely Glittering Promises

Look to your mayor, your city councils and ask yourself where they are getting the ideas that you should be limited in your ability to travel.  Your cities and towns are being redesigned without your input, the ends may not be what you expect. 

the mighty humanzee
By The Mighty Humanzee

For many who know me it will be no surprise that I have challenges with sleep, many times I’m wide awake at 3 AM.  I wake up, turn on YouTube, and the latest in my subscriptions hits me like a cold splash of water on my face.  

15 Minute Cities.  

What is a 15 Minute City?  The concept is simple. 

Everything that you need will be within a 15 minute walk.  Everything.  No need for you to use antiquated methods of travel, no need for expensive mass transit systems that carry large masses of people and polluting the environment.  You see, in the 15 Minute City you will be allotted a set number of times that may venture outside your designated radius.

At first pass this seems to be complete and utter nonsense, as in modern life we are used to being able to travel with relative ease.  The thought of having a limit to the number of occasions that travel is possible outside a small radius is unimaginable.  Who would comply with such a thing?

The city of Oxford England is considering adopting this rule, and redesigning the city as well as the lifestyles of its citizens

To this end, Oxfordshire County Council, which is run by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, wants to divide the city of Oxford into six ‘15 minute’ districts. In these districts, it is said, most household essentials will be accessible by a quarter-of-an-hour walk or bike ride, and so residents will have no need for a car.

If you are thinking that this is a worthy goal yet doomed to fail with no way to reinforce the restrictions, you haven’t thought far enough ahead. Oxford will impose fines if you travel after your quota has been used up.  Fines of 70 British pounds will be levied once you exceed your 100 days of outer radius travel.

[Oxford ]has the potential to enable residents to live in a healthy and sustainable way, for example because of the possibility of traveling by active modes, such as by bike and on foot, which is why it is such a sustainable location for development, including jobs and housing… The environment will be central to everything we do.

It would be stretching credulity to say that these ideas stem from the citizens and their elected “officials”.  In fact there are many groups that are linked with the United Nations Habitat and the C40  a global association of mayors who are focused on re-engineering how cities and their citizens live.  These efforts are coming to take effect in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Poland and England, and receive funding and consultation from the Open Society Foundation and entities with global reach.

As with many of these utopian projects you see the concepts of sustainability, health and putting the environment first bantered about.  New ideas, new experts with the new Science, Knowledge and Wisdom need to confine you in order to produce a better citizen and human being who will be harmonious with nature.

This is not confined to Europe.  Perhaps the most ambitious effort to build the new Green Future is the city Neom in Saudi Arabia.

Neom is known as the walled city, and for those who are science fiction fans you can see many parallels between Logan’s Run and the classic adaptation of H.G. Well’s Things to Come.  In both of those films, mankind is confined to wonderful futuristic cities, but at the cost of their liberty and in the case of Logan’s Run, you life once you reach the age of 30 where you voluntarily commit suicide for public spectacle.  Neom’s dimensions are 200 meters wide by 170 kilometers long and enclosed entirely by walls .  Yes, you will live in designated sectors where everything that you need will be available.  The difference with Neom is that there will be mass transit, but once you see how confining the structure is – it’s basically a walled city – it is easy to project how confining such a lifestyle would be. 

The imagery of the video is very important to note.  Despite being surrounded by walls, there will be abundant light.  And note, too, the greenery throughout the buildings, despite the fact that light could never reach the lower levels.  And it is ironic that a young teen girl, without head cover and wearing slacks, is able to float freely throughout this dream world. Intellectually most acknowledge that this is a concept commercial, but the imagery is powerful here as it imparts the emotion of safety and awe, and that the new future will be a high tech paradise.  It also diminishes the threat of being confined to a walled zoo.  With such beauty and care taken to craft the perfectly eco friendly domain, why would you ever worry that you could never leave?

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