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Slowing Down City Life

by Kate Trainor on November 5, 2007

SLOW Slowing Down City Life

Much as the Slow Food movement sprang up in opposition to the McDonaldization of the world’s cuisine, the idea of “Slow Cities” has taken hold as a reaction to the automo-murder of quality life. Both the Slow Food and Slow City movements have their roots in Italy, and they share a hankering for locally-grown and freshly prepared foods. Slow City promoters also seek to make cities walkable again by banning cars from city centers and to facilitate renewable energy sources, green building, and recycling/reusing materials.

From the Slow Cities Charter:

Slow Cities are cities which:

  1. implement an environmental policy designed to maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric, placing the onus on recovery and reuse techniques
  2. implement an infrastructural policy which is functional for the improvement, not the occupation, of the land
  3. promote the use of technologies to improve the quality of the environment and the urban fabric
  4. encourage the production and use of foodstuffs produced using natural, eco-compatible techniques, excluding transgenic products, and setting up, where necessary, presidia to safeguard and develop typical products currently in difficulty, in close collaboration with the Slow Food Ark project and wine and food Presidia
  5. safeguard autocthonous production, rooted in culture and tradition, which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers and purveyors
  6. promote the quality of hospitality as a real bond with the local community and its specific features, removing the physical and cultural obstacles which may jeopardize the complete, widespread use of a city’s resources
  7. promote awareness among all citizens, and not only among inside operators, that they live in a Slow City, with special attention to the of young people and schools through the systematic introduction of taste education.

Since the organization began in 1999, 42 Italian cities have chosen to go slow, as have cities in Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Poland and Norway. Cities must have fewer than 50,000 inhabitiants and must meet strict guidelines to become official "cittáslows."

The Slow City movement is composed neither of Luddites nor ascetics. In fact, several cittáslows have hosted raucous feasts and festivals serving local wines and they embrace technology when it helps to further the organization’s mission. For example, Pisa uses an electronic monitor to strictly enforce parking meters

Citywide carectomies are something we can certainly get behind. Americans vacation in Europe, often love the charm and practicality of dense, old, walkable cities, and return to their car-based crappy lives. Maybe we can learn something from this backlash, lose some of our motorized franticness, and get back in touch with ourselves and our neighbors.

Related posts:

  1. Biking + Breakfast = Bikefast!
  2. Birmingham’s Big City Plan
  3. “Large Fella” Bikes Back to Life
  4. Slower Vacations More Vibrant
  5. Top Ten Walkable U.S. Cities
  6. Recent Posts

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 wesley bruce March 12, 2008 at 4:09 am

We have similar programs in Canberra intermittently. It may be walking distance for you or me but often these loop services are loaded with the elderly. A walk of a few hundred meters is a challenge if your using a walker or a walking stick for balance or support. By [i]intermittently[/i] I mean the bus comes and goes depending on who’s running the state.


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