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Life in the Slow Lane
Italy shows the way with Slow Food & Slow Cities

Despite fast food, instant communications and labour-saving devices, we often seem to have less spare time, not more. In an effort to 'rediscover time' and recapture the rhythms of life in a simpler age, 33 Italian towns have formed an association of 'slow cities'. 

Outraged by a plan to build a MacDonald’s on the Spanish Steps in Rome, the Slow Food Movement was started by Italian intellectual and wine writer Carlo Petrini in the 1980s as a reaction against the folly of fast food and the fast life. While accepting the inevitability of and opportunities inherent in globalization, the movement’s founders point out that the leveling out of differences among cities and countries also will inevitably generate mediocrity.  The movement promotes the protection of local biodiversity and the right to taste through preserving local cooking and eating traditions.

Slow Cities developed out of this movement, expanding the concept into a way of life. It’s Charter of Association calls for a return to old values.

The development of local communities is based, among other things, on their ability to share and acknowledge specific qualities, to create an identity of their own that is visible outside and profoundly felt inside. While globalization offers, among other things, a great opportunity for exchange, there is, nevertheless, a growing demand for alternative solutions that focus on excellence, not necessarily as an elitist phenomenon, but rather as a cultural fact of life.

The Slow Cities movement emphasizes the importance of local identity through:
  • Preserving and maintaining the local natural and built environments
  • Developing infrastructure in harmony with the natural landscape and its use
  • Using technology to improve quality of life and the natural and urban environment
  • Encouraging the use and production of local foodstuffs using eco-sensitive methods
  • Supporting production based on cultural traditions in the local area
  • Promoting the quality of local hospitality
  • Promoting awareness among all citizens, especially among the young people

The aim of the Slow Cities movement is to implement a program of civilized harmony and activity grounded in the serenity of everyday life by bringing together communities that share this ideal. The focus is on appreciation of the seasons and cycles of nature, cultivation of local produce and the growing through slow, reflective living.

Slow Cities are not opposed to progress, but focus on changes in technology and globalization as tools to make life better and easier while protecting the uniqueness of town characters.

To be a member and to be able to display the movement's snail logo a city must meet a range of requirements, including increasing pedestrian access, implement recycling and reuse policies, and introduce an ecological transport system.

Working with the Slow Food Network, the Slow Cities movement is spreading the word about its slow brand of community connectedness.

For more information on the Slow Cities check out:

www.slowfoods.com and www.communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au

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