‘15-minute city’: How an eco-friendly living proposal turned into a heated online conspiracy theory – Screen Shot
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‘15-minute city’: How an eco-friendly living proposal turned into a heated online conspiracy theory

World-altering events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health deterioration, economic turbulence, and the Earth-shattering influence and lunacy of former US President Donald Trump left the global population floundering. You only have to spend a brief moment online to see the chaos unfurling in front of your eyes. And while conspiracy theories existed far before the dawn of the orange politician, it’s undeniable that these days, anything is possible. In the case of the ‘15-minute city’, what started as an urban planning concept—formulated to encourage a local living lifestyle—quickly spiralled into an online narrative about elitist coercive control.

What is the ‘15-minute city’?

The ‘15-minute city’ concept represents a residential urban concept, designed to improve the quality of life of its lucky inhabitants by creating a city where everything they might need can be reached within 15 minutes, either by bike, foot or public transport.

Formulated by Franco-Columbian urbanist Carlos Moreno, the ‘15-minute city’ idea was presented in 2016, geared towards creating small neighbourhoods which prioritised a framework of access, diversity, density and ubiquity. According to the project’s website, this new residential idea encourages individuals to consider time before anything else, something Moreno called “chrono-urbanism.”

Rather than focusing primarily on unclogging cities by solely increasing travel speeds, planning should instead prioritise access and proximity, so as to create a micro-city which can benefit a myriad of people and cultivate thriving communities, while simultaneously massively reducing carbon emissions by eliminating a need for regular car travel. Two birds with one stone, huh?

How did the COVID-19 pandemic speed up the ‘15-minute city’ agenda?

While the idea of having a McDonald’s, cinema, IKEA, overpriced coffee shop and drove of thrift shops within a 15-minute walking distance of home may be a gen Zer’s dream, pre-2019, that’s all it was—a dream. When the COVID-19 pandemic came along however, it presented a ‘unique opportunity’. With so many people stuck at home, meeting one’s needs within a close proximate range became a necessity rather than a fantasy.

In an article published by Common Edge, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to reconnecting architecture and design with the public that it’s meant to serve, it theorised that the framing of the pandemic directly influenced politicians and urbanists to take the ‘15-minute city’ concept more seriously. Google Trend searches for worldwide usage of the term show that it reached its peak in November 2020. Indeed, decentralising work from within the city itself reflects the uptake of employees working from home now.

Of course, it should also be noted that the idea of hyper-local and 15-minute access has begun to take form in a number of cities across the globe, albeit not in its original complete form. For example, Copenhagen, Utrecht and Paris already promote and sustain pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods where reducing car usage and upholding environmentally friendly areas is paramount.

According to Politico, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was among the first to seize on the idea in 2020, putting it at the heart of a successful reelection campaign that also involved pushing cars out of the city in favour of green spaces and bike lanes.

What are the ‘15-minute city agenda’ conspiracy theories?

Now, this is where things get interesting. As we all know, the internet has a tendency to take even the most well-meaning concepts or ideas, and subvert them into a much darker narrative. In this instance, as noted by Dazed, conspiracy theorists have taken to TikTok, capes flailing in the wind, to warn users of the so-called “climate mob” out to take over the world. Those set on exposing the ‘15-minute city agenda’ have employed language that had previously gained traction during the pandemic “to portray it as part of a conspiracy run by global elites to control the masses.”

Doom-mongering has always found a way to latch onto innovation and progress. And it seems as though climate change continues to be one of its biggest hosts. In regard to the ‘15-minute city’ concept, some theorists have likened the proposed neighbourhoods to districts depicted in The Hunger Games, insisting that, if put into practice, these cities will create chaos, resistance and extreme revolution. Perhaps Jennifer Lawrence could be tempted to participate in the film adaptation?


Madddd. #uk #15minutecity #news #viral #fyp #foryou #2030 #newyear

♬ original sound - Oliver Ballam

TikTok is now flooded with videos, primarily from users who warn that this hyper-local approach will completely erode any individual autonomy or agency. And that councils and governments have used the blanket justification of tackling climate change as a guise to impose strict constraints on its citizens.


#saynoto15minutecities #15minutecities

♬ original sound - MissyEllie

The Katie Hopkins agenda

One such opponent has been resident whack-job and conspiracy theorist Katie Hopkins. After skimming local guidelines for proposed 15-minute cities in Oxford, the former TV commentator took to the internet to spread wildfire accusations of coercive control and manipulation, comparing the plans with COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and claiming that British freedom was inherently at risk.


Climate lockdowns and 15 minute cities #katiehopkins #climatelockdown #15minutecity #conspiracy #fyp #foryou #fypシ

♬ original sound - Whatkast Podcast

Naturally, this was a pack of lies but would we expect anything less from Hopkins? Oxfordshire County Council responded accordingly, releasing a statement explaining that the proposal is actually about traffic filters, which will fine drivers using certain roads during peak hours to help develop a “more sustainable, reliable and inclusive transport system.”

There are proposals for 15-minute neighbourhoods in Oxford, but these are not intended to restrict movement. “The 15-minute neighbourhoods proposal aims to ensure that every resident has all the essentials (shops, healthcare, parks) within a 15-minute walk of their home,” the statement clarifies. “They aim to support and add services, not restrict them.”

Are any of the criticisms valid?

It should be noted that there are some constructive criticisms of the proposed 15-minute cities. For example, as noted by Bloomberg, while utopian in theory, these builds will involve drastic measures and could consequently create social divides. Particularly, this is prevalent when considering potential negative impacts on marginalised communities.

Of course, another aspect to be considered is the highly different nature of each city—creating a hyper-local neighbourhood in Melbourne will be exponentially different to creating one in London, for example. Oh, and if there is a transfer programme available I’ll happily ship myself off to Australia.

Overall, however, it’s undeniable that the ‘15-minute city’ concept has revolutionised the way in which we consider living and community. Of course, theorists will continue to spread a message of coercion and control but with the burden of climate change still firmly resting on our shoulders, this may be our best bet yet.

7 fashion trends that dominated our TikTok FYP in 2022

We can all agree on the fact that TikTok’s now-infamous FYP has influenced our lives in more ways than one. Whether it be through the long list of songs that now play on a loop inside our brains or the numerous dance routines we somehow felt confident enough to share with the rest of the app’s 1.8 billion users.

But when it comes to pinpointing the specific area in which TikTok has had the biggest impact, it simply can’t be denied that the video-sharing platform ruled our wardrobes—and everything we decided to add to it. In some instances, it almost felt as if we didn’t have much of a say in what we ended up wearing. The algorithm did all the work for us as we mindlessly followed along.

That being said, as we enjoy the last few days of 2022, we can’t help but fondly look back on some of the fashion moments that marked the tumultuous past year. Here are our nine favourite TikTok fashion trends that we’re more than happy to bring into 2023.

1. POSTER GIRL’s daring mesh dresses

If you know you know… just how hard it was to avoid seeing this dress on social media. Trust me, I tried.

Founded in London in 2017 by besties Francesca Capper and Natasha Somerville who met while studying womenswear design at the renowned fashion university Central Saint Martins, POSTER GIRL has been described as a label “manifesting confidence, ultra femininity and referencing a direct nostalgia to the designers’ upbringings.”

The brand has brought out various styles and colourways, but its clothes tend to keep to a similar theme. It’s the perfect dress if you want to leave little to the imagination, with daring cut-outs and mesh detailing from top to bottom, it hugs your body in all the right places—it’s the shapewear you’ll never want to hide.

It grew to the height of its fame this past year after the influencer of all influencers Kylie Jenner shared a picture of herself in the Miranda dress with her nearly 400 million followers on Instagram. Only a month after, Dua Lipa also posted to the gram wearing a similar style from POSTER GIRL.


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A post shared by POSTER GIRL (@poster__girl__official)

Since then, the female-empowering label has catapulted into the spotlight and been donned by just about everyone and anyone from British rapper Stefflon Don to the stars of this year’s Love Island. The iconic dress also saturated all of our FYPs with hilarious reviews commentating on how incredibly tiny it looks when it’s not stretched out onto someone’s body.


This That new Postergirl looking like an American Doll Dress 🤣🤣 👗 #Comedy #postergirldress #fashiontiktok #lol

♬ original sound - Evan chambers

2. Cowboy boots

You know the saying right, hold onto something long enough, it will eventually come back into style. Although cowboy boots may not be the most practical choice of footwear, especially in the summer, this year, they were all the rage.

The trend became official after luxury designers such as Louis Vuitton, Chloé and Alexander McQueen incorporated the boots into their collections. Nowadays however, is a fashion trend really one if it’s not seen on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid? When it comes to cowboy boots in 2022, the holy trinity mentioned just prior all had their ‘ranchcore’ moment.

Meanwhile in the world of common mortals, festival-goers pairing them with dresses, shorts and mini skirts, making the footwear a stylish (and slightly less comfortable) alternative to wellies.

3. Double denim

While Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears may have been the original champions of double denim, it’s clear that this matchy-matchy trend had a serious revival and makeover in 2022.


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A post shared by E! News (@enews)

Often deemed the Marmite of the fashion world, double denim has undoubtedly divided style gurus over the years. Often relegated to the aesthetic abyss, alongside other ‘crimes against fashion’ such as mullet shoes and stiletto Crocs, netizens spent 2022 reclaiming the style and making it their own.

Off-duty models donned matching denim oversized shirts and jeans, while the more experimental gen Zers expressed themselves through bright-coloured denim and patchwork.


Do we like the double denim?? #outfitcheck #outfitoftheday #doubledenim

♬ about damn time x promiscuous - Adam Wright

Rapper, designer, and resident firestarter Kanye West even participated in the trend takeover—appearing at Kenzo’s autumn/winter 2022 menswear show sporting a matching double denim look with iconic internet sensation and girlfriend at the time Julia Fox.

4. UGGs

Everyone’s favourite comfy yet impractical winter boots made an inevitable comeback this winter. Founded in California in the 1970s, at first, UGGs did not receive the love and affection they deserved. It wasn’t until 1994 when the US team sported them during the Winter Olympics that people started to take notice of this fluffy footwear.

In 2022, however, there was a particular style of boot that sent every gen Zer and millennial feral. The UGG mini—which currently has amassed 62.1 million views on TikTok—dominated our FYP and our feet this year. Perfectly impractical, these stylish feet warmers had us all hooked.

However, if you were worrying about the hefty price tag attached to this new trend, some netizens have decided to DIY themselves a pair by cutting up an old pair of UGGs, thereby handcrafting their own.


Decided to make my uggs from college into minis! Disclaimer they are different heights but I did my best. #uggs #miniuggs #diysewing

♬ original sound - ᶜ ʰ ˡ ˡ ˣ ᵉ ᵈ ⁱ ᵗ ˢ - ᶜ ʰ ˡ ˡ ˣ ᵉ ᵈ ⁱ ᵗ ˢ

5. Juicy Couture

Y2K called—it’s still thriving. The 90s phenomenon continued to dominate and influence a myriad of subcultures and aesthetics this year. Most prominently, was the resurgence of Juicy Couture’s iconic flagship velour two-piece tracksuits, initially popularised by socialites Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.


The rise and fall and rise again of Juicy Couture 💖 #y2k #juicycouture #y2kaesthetic #2000sfashion #2000sthrowbacks #parishilton

♬ Unlock it (Lock It) [feat. Kim Petras and Jay Park] - Charli XCX

If you’ve been loving the triumphant Juicy revival, you may want to pay thanks to former Ivy Park lead creative and style guru Amy Gibson. The British designer recognised the value in relaunching the Juicy brand, aptly now titled Juicy 2.0. Gibson’s aim was to create a new chic and stylish look which prioritised inclusivity—in relation to both ethnicity and body type.

6. Chunky loafers

While the loafer trend may have been first popularised by Prada’s Monolith stompers, which were released in 2021, this aesthetic has since come into its own. Unlike your everyday work shoe, chunky loafers are the boost you need to conquer any sticky situation—or make a loud and memorable entrance.

After it became clear that gen Zers had embraced the loafer look, other designers such as Proenza Schouler and Dries Van Noten couldn’t help but try and capitalise on the growing success.


ive already purchased two pairs #fashion #fashiontiktok

♬ Elevator Music - Bohoman

7. New Balances 530 and 550

New Balance trainers, once considered the footwear of soccer mums, are now capturing the hearts and minds of netizens across the globe. With the popularity of dadcore—and its parent grandpacore—taking over TikTok, it didn’t take long for these glorified tennis shoes to make their way into our lives.

New Balance reinvented itself by offering consumers a laid-back and seemingly straightforward shoe—as opposed to the overwhelming and flashy alternatives that existed in the ether.

Fan favourites of singer Justin Bieber and model Kaia Gerber, it’s a sure thing that these dad-inspired delicacies will continue running straight into 2023.