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.

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Werinalo Veyanemr
Past Member 5 years ago

Oooooooh this sounds wonderful!! Thank you:)

Vicky G.
Vicky C G.5 years ago

We folks who live in small southern towns in the U.S. have been living the slow movement for years. (Always, in fact!) Most people from other places who move here complain about the slow pace yet now we are being called a movement and not even given credit for it, or recognized. :-)

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.5 years ago


gerold fahrer
gerold fahrer6 years ago

We live in a fast world, why? The life is to short, we must look to the nature with respect!!!

Rachel Simon
Rachel Simon6 years ago

This is an interesting idea.

Dmitry B.


Debra Thomas
Debra Thomas6 years ago

Great movement, we can get back to being people and knowing eachother and our locales, instead of being cogs in a machine working too fast for our own and the planet's good

Loretta Dugaro
Loretta Dugaro6 years ago

Alan Apurim,
I enjoy reading opinions expressed on Care2. However, many of your points seem to come from synicism, as opposed to fact. I want to mention I do agree that quality of life for all can only be realized by sharing planetary wealth (water, food, healthcare, etc). I may be incorrect, but It seems as though you have never even been to the location mentioned. I spent the first 18 years of my life an hour south of this alleged "slow city". I have been lucky enough to visit many other small or slow cities all over the world. They are not filled with lazy individuals escaping to a "utopia" from a dismal city life. Or abandoning social justice or those less fortunate. Many simply grew up in these locations, a slow way of life being part of their core values. Because of a global interest in smaller cities and these same values, people such as yourself seem to take it a threat. As if those same affluent few who made a mess profiting off social inequality in a "big city", escape to these clean safe locations. These small town folk do not have more "leisure time" than a city person, but many are hard working. You imply Cowichan Bay was created by doing work faster and efficiently, suggesting in your own words, the "slow city" folk are wage slaves and robots. Lastly, you make a hasty claim regarding the photograph. You claimed the boats, housing materials, and other benefits were bought from "fast" city environments. If you had checked your sources, Vancouver Islands small

Shaktiva Irahs
Little A.6 years ago

I don't like racing or anything else that takes the chance away of just admiring where I am.

Mike Luszcz Jr
Mike Luszcz Jr6 years ago

Sounds awesome!