Last week myself and some of the team from OpHouse spoke at York Science Conference, the largest student-led science conference in Europe, where we explored how permaculture can lead us through sustainable urban development and what benefits the 15 minute city might bring. You can watch it here.
I am lucky to work with such skilled, knowledgeable, and kind people in my role as one of the founder-directors of OpHouse. My business partner, Rebecca Carr, runs a community outreach arts agency called Kaizen Arts Agency which offers innovative ways to upskill and involve the community in creative collaborative events.
Jai Sandhu is a designer who co-founded Wild Streets, a not-for-profit working on empowering citizens to green our towns and cities.
James Newton is an architect at Designdwell who specialises in low-carbon builds and is also a certified Community Led Housing enabler. He is a founder of YorSpace and so is excellently placed to help OpHouse bring the first self-build tiny house neighbourhood to the city of York.
My work as a PhD researcher and my work with OpHouse feed into each other in productive ways. Through my research I hear people describe how living in a tiny house has allowed them to spend less time engaged in market interactions, and more time engaged in their community, with their creative hobbies, and with nature.
I am told stories about how different life feels when you can wake up naturally rather than to an alarm. A single mother told me that she would never be able to afford to live near her family, or spend as much time with her daughter if she wasn’t living in a tiny house.
Both permaculture and the fifteen minute city recognise the vital importance of sustaining human connections, considering natural biological rhythms like the sleep-wake cycle, and prioritising time spent in the natural world. Evidence shows us that the more time we spend in nature, the more we identify with it, and the more likely we are to take actions to protect natural spaces. It is also extremely good for our health.
The tiny house neighbourhood that we are delivering through OpHouse will synthesise permaculture ethics with the fifteen minute city, as well as focussing on providing what our community tell us they want. My research and the work of others in this field suggests that above all people want homes that they can actually afford.
How would your day-to-day change if every amenity you needed was available within a 15 minute walk or cycle ride?
Watch our Science Conference talk here.