15 Minute Communities
One of the more interesting things that I heard during the recent election campaign is concern about the idea of 15 minute communities. It was as though the concept was somehow new or, for some reason, threatening. In reality, having access to the things that we as a community might want, within 15 minutes, has been a natural part of human (and other species) existence over tens of thousands of years. So why worry now?
I seem to recall watching countless David Attenborough documentaries about animals and learning that quite often they were very territorial. In essence they would set up a territory/domain and generally stick with it, only travelling as far as required to forage for food and water. Yes, there were exceptions to the rule, but the rule was basically the rule.
Humans have never been any different to our animal relatives. Villages and communities would establish in places where they could hunt, gather, and water, all within a sensible close distance.
As humans evolved and developed the ability to farm and trade/sell goods and then as we developed a need for centralised banking, baking and blacksmithing, we built around small towns, in a way that we could access it all within a short walk or ride.
We eventually developed bikes, trains, cars and planes but still we broadly established smaller localised communities that would have a park, a school, general stores, churches, sporting fields and other important goods that we needed regular and easy access to.
Our coal mining villages across the Hunter are all a tribute to the idea of small villages being self-sustaining. While almost all of our traditional coal mining villages have lost access to the local butcher, baker and candle-stick maker, as we relied more on cars, there are still the remnants of those much smaller and isolated communities. Our small schools, located in each of the villages, are a reminder of exactly this recent history.
So, what’s new about the idea of a 15 minute community? Well, nothing.
Ideally, we would all have access to most of the things that we need on a daily basis, within about 15 minutes from our homes. This would include schools and sporting fields and shops and places to drink or eat as well as the everyday services that we rely on.
And hopefully within about 30 minutes of our homes we would have access to larger, more strategic centres that might have hospitals and work/industry and larger retail centres.
At the 60 – 90 minute mark we would expect to have access to much larger higher education facilities like TAFE’s and Universities as well as super-sized shopping centres and ports and airports and real commercial centres of trade and business.
What is new, about the very not-new idea of 15 minute communities, is that some online pranksters are suggesting that there is a grand master plan to keep us “locked” into a 15 minute bubble from our own homes, using surveillance to watch us coming and going. This is 100% not true. It is not happening. There is no truth or fact to support this.
What is true is that we have all been living in a broader concept of a 15 minute community for our whole lives. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Even the dinosaurs did it.
And for the record, no, I am not part of “the cover-up” nor am I “in on the secret plan”. By now, the community at large should know me for being honest and straight-up, even when this has put me off-side with others. Please don’t buy into the sudden, internet based, U.S. generated, and unfounded concern about 15 minute communities.
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