Hurry Up and Slow Down! North America’s First Slow City
We’re entering the Busy Season. OK, let’s call it the Even Busier Season: parties, family, cooking, gifts, charity work, work-work…the rat race speeds up for a lot of us in November and December. At this time, it pays off to take a deep breath, not try to be all things to all people…and slow down.
Around the world, groups are organizing around taking a slower, more conscious approach to food, to community, to living. The Slow Movement began in 1989 in Italy as a a reaction to the fast pace and disconnectedness of modern life. The movement espouses conscious, connecting action in all areas, including: Travel, Schools, Food, Books, Living and Money. Best known is the Slow Food movement, which promotes whole food, locally grown, cooked from scratch and enjoyed at leisure, as an antidote to our modern life disease of “hurry up-itis”. This is a very appropriate wish, given the marathon dinner that many of us will sit down to on Thursday.
Out of Slow Food grew the Slow City movement. Last July, scenic Cowichan Bay in British Columbia was named the first official Slow City in North America. What’s a Slow City? From the Slow City (aka Citta Slow) website, to become fully accredited: “No town or city with more than 50,000 residents may apply to be called a Slow City. The Slow City manifesto contains 55 pledges or criteria, grouped into six categories upon which cities are assessed; environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and Citta Slow awareness.” The Slow Cowichan website puts it best: “While many cities focus on creating bigger, faster, newer, shinier and sexier infrastructure..a cittaslow community focuses on quality of life for its neighbourhoods, people and environment.” Good local food, pedestrian-friendliness, and community spirit, support for local businesses: how strange that these qualities are not at the heart of all cities and towns.
There are ‘certified’ slow cities in 16 countries, from South Korea to Turkey to the Netherlands; larger cities, which do not qualify for the label, are also looking at these quality of life issues. For a good introduction to the Slow Movement, here is a video featuring journalist Carl Honore, who has written extensively on the subject. My favorite quote: “Everyone these days wants to know how to slow down, but they want to know how to slow down really quickly.” Have a wonderful, slower week!
Read more about Slow Food on Care2:
Photo of Cowichan Bay; Courtesy Mike Copes. Used with permission.