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 MacDonalds 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 movements
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. Its 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
- 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
- Supporting production based on cultural traditions in the local
- Promoting the quality of local hospitality
- Promoting awareness among all citizens, especially among the
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