15 Minute Cities – Utopian Villages, or Dystopic Hells?

Paris 16 Date25 March 2017, 09:31 Source Paris 16 Author Guilhem Vellut from Paris, France wikipedia.org

There’s much ado of late on ‘15 minute cities‘, (FMCs – like everything else now, they have their own acronym) a proposed redesigning of our metropolises, so that the basic amenities – groceries, shops, cafes, libraries, schools, parks, even, might we add, churches – will all be within walking, or biking, distance. Gone will be the city designed around the dreaded automobile, with long, clogged roadways, filling the air with exhaust and noise pollution – beware the pedestrian who ventures thereupon!

The car-less village within a city sounds rather pleasant, with leafy walkways, birds chirping, families picnicking – a veritable incarnation of It’s a Wonderful World. Historian Jane Jacobs‘ in her own writing on this topic over many years, has insisted that that we must return to something more accessible, local, amenable, human, beautiful – all in all, mediaeval. Some see the 15, 20, 25 minute city as a step towards such, a good thing which we should support. As an avid walker and biker, I’m hopeful for the good side of this, and that un-addicting us from the ubiquitous mechanized transport not in itself a bad thing.

Yet, and yet…Does anyone really still trust the powers-that-be, those with enough heft on the levers of power to reconfigure entire cities, to have our best interests at heart? One need not look far to see a sinister side to all of this, part and parcel of the Teutonic Schwaub’s ‘great reset’, to rid us not only of cars, but of much else, including any other sort of property and liberty. So long to the family farm, or even the family half-acre, or lawn, and welcome to your pod-condo, where you will be limited to one child, if that.

And speaking of façades, how long will those idyllic villages look idyllic? A glance at the feral nature of our drug-addled, dystopic downtowns – San Francisco and Portland being but two on the forefront of this degradation – should dispel such fairy-tale notions. What’s to stop a panoptic surveillance state, with all the control of a twisted Truman Show? Only, they won’t need the roadblocks, for no one will have cars…

Behind the pleasant façade, might this betoken – without their explicitly saying so – a quasi-permanent-lock-down within those same cities?

Ponder a final difference between the mediaeval village and the 15-minute city: One could walk out of the former and be in the open country well within an hour, if not less. Try hoofing it out of downtown L.A., New York or even Toronto – you’d still on concrete and asphalt two days later.

Keep what freedom you might, dear reader. ‘Tis a precious thing that, once lost, is not easy to regain. +