This post was originally published on our sister blog, The Stirrer. As Grassroots Alternatives is in part about supporting projects aiming to make their communities better places to live, we think there’s probably a fair bit of interest in the concept of 15 minute neighbourhoods among our readers. That’s why we re-publishing this post on here…
The debate around 15 minute neighbourhoods, Clean Air Zones and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods feels like it’s getting more polarised on both sides. There are legitimate concerns about the way these top down schemes are imposed without any meaningful consultation. There are a few allegedly questionable elements trying to exploit those concerns for their own ends.
Oxford Anti-Fascists have decided that a day of action against the imposition of 15 minute neighbourhoods in their city is something they feel they have to oppose. This is the Twitter thread they discuss it on. You will note that we made an intervention on that thread in a bid to try and get some nuance into the discussion. How well (or not) that will go down remains to be seen.
As anti-authoritarians, we instinctively distrust top down measures imposed by local councils, particularly when ‘consultation’ on them is somewhat sketchy. Also, from years of watching local councils operate, there’s the issue of a lack of joined up, holistic thinking that inevitably mean these schemes end up causing problems. Unintended consequences and all that.
However, as the two of us behind this blog have a history of environmental activism going back to the late 1970s, we recognise that we can’t continue along our current trajectory, simply because on a finite planet, it’s unsustainable in the long term. That means some serious thinking on how we reconfigure our towns and cities is long overdue. Needless to say with our political perspective, that has to be a process owned by everyone, not imposed from the top down. That may not happen this side of a major social, political and economic transformation.
All of this means that our thinking on these issues, which if we’re being honest is still evolving, takes what can best be described as a bit of a third position. For the purposes of transparency, we’re listing everything we’ve written so far on these issues. Inevitably, we’ll be writing more. Constructive criticism and comradely debate are always welcome.
The posts are listed in chronological order with the most recent being at the top.
Tinkering around the edges 2.2.23
Where we stand on 15 minute neighbourhoods 10.1.23
Moving a problem, not solving it 31.12.22
More thoughts on fifteen minute neighbourhoods… 28.12.22
15 minute neighbourhoods revisited 6.12.22
Connectivity vs convenience 15.4.22
15 minute cities / neighbourhoods – a good or a bad idea? 23.3.22