caution: slow cities

According to most sources, the Slow Food movement started in Italy in the mid-1980’s in response to the explosion of American fast food franchises. The movement, which seeks to defend local tradition with relation to food, has expanded beyond the boundaries of Italy since then, and has also evolved to incorporate cultural, economic, ecological and political components. According the Wikipedia definition, some also consider it “the culinary wing of the anti-globalization movement.” Well, in digging around the last few days and looking for evidence of the movement’s health in the US (it seems to me as though some of the momentum has died off over the last decade), I happened across a few mentions of a sister movement known as the Slow Cities, or “Cittaslow.”

Here’s a clip from an archived BBC story on Cittslow:

The Slow Food movement is beginning to take hold in another form, too, through the Cittaslow (which translates as ‘slow city’) scheme. This scheme was created in Italy in 1999 with the aim of engendering Slow Food values in local communities. There are now two approved Cittaslow cities in Britain; Ludlow in Shropshire was the first British town to be approved and Aylsham, a market town in Norfolk, followed. There are many more towns applying, including Canterbury in Kent and Diss, also in Norfolk.

Here are links to the official British and Italian Cittaslow sites. I got a rough translation of the Italian site through Babbelfish, and, from what I can gather, it doesn’t look as though any cities have been “Cittaslow certified” since 2002. Given that, and the fact that it doesn’t look as though the main on-line discussion forum is working any longer, one suspects that the movement is losing steam internationally, but perhaps that’s not the case. At any rate, I was thinking that both of these ideas (Slow Food and Cittaslow) could help inform our discussions concerning the future of Ypsilanti and how we think about subjects as divergent as franchised fast food shops and the future of our local farmer’s market. (Speaking of the market, Linette just stumbled across some interesting information concerning the role of public markets in reshaping local economies that I think some of you might find of interest.)

OK, if you know more about either of these movements (Slow Food or Slow City), or perhaps alternative policy and planning movements that articulate similiar community-friendly, anti-franchise, and anti-big box retail objectives, let me know… I need to go and scrub my clothes now. Earlier, I was carrying the baby around on my hip when she decided to void her tiny bowels. That in itself wouldn’t have been too bad, if not for the fact that her diaper had a malfunctioning o-ring. As a result, the front left pocket of my pants was completely filled with watery, brown shit, as were almost all the holes in my belt. I’ve had them both soaking in the sink and now it’s time to deal with them.

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2 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted December 7, 2004 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Someone better comment by the time I count to ten… I’m serious this time.

  2. Lyn Clark
    Posted March 12, 2005 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Our town of Goolwa in South Australia is just beginning the process of seeking Cittaslow recognition. Whilst the Italian website is not currently working and communication is difficult with them, we have have a good working relationship with Ludlow, Aylsham and Diss in the UK and Matakana in New Zealand. All these towns have either qualified or are going through the process. Cittaslow is an excellent framework to use to focus community activities.
    Regards from “Down Under”. Lyn

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