Fired by the success and support for Slow Food the Italians set about initiating the Slow Cities movement. Slow cities are characterised by a way of life that supports people to live slow. Traditions and traditional ways of doing things are valued. These cities stand up against the fast-lane, homogenised world so often seen in other cities throughout the world. Slow cities have less traffic, less noise, fewer crowds.
Towns in Italy have banded together to form an organization and call themselves the Slow Cities movement. In their zeal to help the world they have formed what amounts to a global organization that sets out to control which cities in the world can call themselves Slow Cities and which cannot. This is not a movement. Social movements are movements from the bottom from the community. The seachange movement, the organic movement, the vegetarian movement, the homeschooling movement, are examples of movements. No-one controls them. No-one assesses you to see if you are allowed to call yourself a seachanger or if you can say you are a vegetarian.
Yet, the Slow Cities movement – Citta Slow – holds the power to assess a city that wants to be called a slow city. Citta Slow have developed a:
Manifesto – setting out the underlying principles
Charter of Association – cities wanting to be granted the status of Slow Cities must sign this charter
A list of member cities
Plans for an annual gathering.
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. To qualify to be called a Slow City and to use the snail logo, a city must be vetted and regularly checked by inspectors to make sure it is living up to the Slow City standard of conduct.
The principles of the Slow City movement are one we would like all cities no matter how big or small to live by. Hopefully the movement will continue and another grassroots slow city movement will operate in parallel whereby cities that cannot meet the strict criteria for one reason or another can still call themselves slow cities and continue to work towards sustainable living and the ethos of the slow movement.
Perhaps this new movement is already here. Check out slowlondon. As the site says: “Firstly, it is nothing new. There are people in cities all over the world who have found all sorts of ways to bring a sense of relaxation to places where it can often be stressful to live. slowlondon provides a place for these people to meet and share their ideas. On the other hand, there are many of us who are interested in finding out how to make commuting a pleasure rather than a chore….how to avoid fallling into bad habits at work just because everyone ele does it like that… how to reclaim time as the friend it really is.
“slowlondon hopes to provide inspiration and also support, because sometimes it requires a certain bravery to stand up and say no, there are other ways than this.
“The principles that underpin slowlondon apply to whichever city you live in. Some of the details may be different but on the whole, people all around the world face the same challenges.”
Slow living involves the conscious negotiation of the different temporalities which make up our everyday lives, deriving from a commitment to occupy time more attentively.