(Weekendnotes.com. 2017. Goolwa Market: local markets tick the boxes for a Cittaslow town and the environment)

The Slow City Movement

Section
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality
Page
3.5

3.1-3.3 concentrated on our growth obsession and how it has been fostered and bolstered. 3.4 begun to undermine its hegemony with questions about its links, or lack thereof, to happiness and wellbeing, and now it’s time to turn our attention to an alternative world view: quality of life.

I was lucky enough to have a brief holiday several years back at a small town (pop. of locality approx. 7,000) called Goolwa at the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia. It is a very pleasant seaside/lakeside town south of the state capital Adelaide and I was most surprised to find an information centre right in the middle of town with ‘Cittaslow’ written on the façade. I went in and discovered a whole global movement dedicated to living a quality life, not a gross, quantitative life.

(Mead, L. Cittaslow, Goolwa, SA)

 

Their website – https://www.cittaslow.org/  – tells us their history: “Inspired by Carlo Petrini and the experience of Slow Food, four Mayors of Italian towns, Greve in Chianti, Bra, Orvieto and Positano, at the end of the Nineties decided to adopt the original idea of Paolo Saturnini, then Mayor of Greve in Chianti, who imagined introducing certain principles into the town’s administration, focusing on the positive side of slowness, sustainability and social justice. Since then, Cittaslow has given itself a structure and after twenty years is present in thirty countries with hundreds of projects that concretely improve the planet every day.”

Cittaslow now exists in 278 cities and 20 networks worldwide, and their distribution in central Europe is reproduced here, as an example.

 

The raison d’être of Cittaslow is stated as: “The need to be or become a Cittaslow Town is a valid and very current global challenge for every community on the planet that wants to give itself a future by reconciling itself with itself, seeking progress in balance with its own limitations, its culture and history. Cittaslow is certainly a certification of quality but is also a “vaccine” against fast-paced modernity, a contribution to protecting itself from social desertification and from turbo-charged speculative and unsustainable development”. I particularly like the line ‘reconciling itself with itself’, rather than the childish and insecure chest-thumping of endless growth that so many cities and towns pursue. The website goes on to lay out the pillars of Cittaslow as:

  • the positive side of slowness / By now everyone knows: there is no ‘good life’ without slowness, even if we need to change lifestyles and rethink our behaviour in production and consumption. Let’s start by taking back the time to grow, socialise, appreciate culture, nature and healthy local food, remembering that every living being has the right to follow their own natural rhythms;
  • circular economy / Consuming less, recycling and reusing, today they are no longer a choice, but an urgent duty for all of us. The planet is suffering from an unbalanced, model of development that is already, or, at best, in just a few years, will be inapplicable. We are making plans for circular economies with businessmen, farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and all citizens who are developing forms of active citizenship and civil vigilance;
  • resilience / ‘Enhancing what we are and what we have, without destroying ourselves’: one of the cornerstones of Cittaslow is a message and also a programme, for today and for tomorrow. Each patch of earth is different, but the principle applies to everyone and ensures our future;
  • social justice / There can be no future of quality and prosperity unless civil coexistence and peace between peoples are developed day by day. Cittaslow contributes by pre-political action to heal division and dissolve prejudices, directing the energies of local communities towards shared common goals. But there is no prosperity if it is not for everyone, without discrimination of any kind;
  • sustainability and culture / If you know, you understand. In order to stem climate change, we cannot stop at the mere defence of the natural environment, we must enhance local culture and heritage, too. Cittaslow as a cluster of resilient micro-economies, extends the commitment to sustainability to social resources with actions of inclusion and shared responsibility.”

Cities or towns can begin the process of becoming a Cittaslow town by engaging with their local government and community to gather support and then contacting the Cittaslow HQ in Orvieto, Italy. If accepted to go further, “the town will have to undergo the Cittaslow Certification Scheme, which currently concerns 72 quality points divided into 7 macro areas… Cittaslow International, through the Cittaslow Academy Project, offers seminars in different countries and at the HQ in Orvieto to train common Cittaslow operators and Cittaslow candidates.”

Clearly, every city and town is different and will develop along its own Cittaslow path, but the key thing here is the circuit-breaker, or to mix metaphors, the switching of the blind and runaway ‘growth train’ onto a whole new track whose destination is quality of life, not the faux goal of ‘bigger’. This goal frames a whole different world, one with hope for people and Nature and hope for meaning and fulfilment.

 

(Weekendnotes.com. 2017. Goolwa Market: local markets tick the boxes for a Cittaslow town and the environment)

 

Explore Other Replace the God of Growth with the God of Quality

3.1 Introduction

“The ‘economy’ became a god such as never before, and a happy, successful society was one that could please this god – sometimes by sacrificing beautiful things, to keep the deity from getting angry and harming people by withdrawing favours. And, ...

3.2 Sustainability

“Sustainable development – development that is likely to achieve lasting satisfaction of human needs and improvement of the quality of human life.” (Allen, R. 1980. Summarising the World Conservation Strategy1)   “Developm...

3.3 De-coupling Growth from Environmental Impact

After sustainability, the second and more recent prop for eternal growth, has been the notion of ‘de-coupling’; that growth does not, or need not, lead to environmental impact. Below are three responses to this assertion, starting with Ross Gittin...

3.4 Growth, Happiness and Diminishing Marginal Utility

Age economics’ journalist, Leon Gettler, nicely introduces the topic, below. He explores why “Most people want more income and strive for it. Yet as Western societies have become richer, their people are no happier than they were 50 years ago. In ...

3.5 The Slow City Movement

3.1-3.3 concentrated on our growth obsession and how it has been fostered and bolstered. 3.4 begun to undermine its hegemony with questions about its links, or lack thereof, to happiness and wellbeing, and now it’s time to turn our attention to an...

3.6 The Slow Food Movement

The Slow Food movement got underway before the Slow City movement and thus is, perhaps, more developed at this stage than the latter. Their website is a mine of information and they offer a range of services, networks and chapters. For instance: ...

3.7 The Slow Fashion Movement

Slow fashion is a more recent development than Slow Food and Slow Cities, but is based on the same idea – quality, not growth (quantity). The term arose in 2007 when textile consultant and author Kate Fletcher shone a light on the issue in The Eco...

3.8 Arts and Crafts and Artisan Movements

In many ways the modern ‘slow’ movements can be said to have come out of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20 centuries, which in turn had roots in medieval craft guilds. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London...

3.9 Hooked on Growth

Dave Gardner is the perfect heretic: softly-spoken, mild-mannered, unflappable and with a sense of humour; very hard to demonise and marginalise as ‘crazy’, ‘eccentric’, ‘dangerous’, ‘racist’, or ‘anti-people’. Heretics are, at best, dismissed - a...

Explore Other Sections

1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship
1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship 1.1 Articles 1.2 Art Installations 1.3 Books 1.4 Buildings 1.5 Film, Documentaries, Podcasts 1.6 Music 1.7 Paintings 1.8 Photographs 1.9 Poems 1.10 Spiritual Responses
1/11

1. Build the Nature-Human Relationship

This section is designed to foster appreciation and insight that will – hopefully – lead to novel ways to build a better relationship between human beings and Nature. This section is also atypical ...
2. Reduce Consumption
2. Reduce Consumption

2. Reduce Consumption

I hope Reneé Descartes would forgive us for saying that, at least for the modern world, he was wrong.  When, in 1637, he said: “I think, therefore I am”, he could not have anticipated that the majo...
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality
3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

3. Replace God of Growth with God of Quality

In a supposedly secular age there has arisen a global religion and god like never before, a religion whose reach and power makes every other belief system before it seem pitiful and insignificant: ...
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment
4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

4. Work, Volunteer, Act for the Environment

What we do in our day-to-day lives can have great impact. Section Four divides up these actions into three groups – Work (4.2 & 4.3), Volunteering (4.4), and Action, e.g. voting, protesting, et...
5. Reduce Population
5. Reduce Population

5. Reduce Population

Even on top of Mt. Everest, in one of the remotest, most difficult places on earth, there is a great traffic-jam of people jostling for position. And yet, ever more vociferously, we deny that overp...
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context
6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

6. Ensure Media Acknowledgement of Environmental Context

The media is one of the three, great ‘poles’ of power in the world (alongside political and corporate power) and how they frame and present ‘the environment’ has a profound effect on how we respond...
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species
7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

7. Stop Further Loss of Natural Habitat and Species

New York is an exciting, mesmerising place. Human culture is extraordinary and often wonderful. Our powers of transformation of the natural world seem limitless. The trouble is, we don’t seem to be...
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition
8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

8. Assist Energy Descent and Transition

Our current energy largesse is an extraordinary ‘gift’, an unprecedented gift of the ages; millions of years to produce and from millions of years ago. Coal, oil and gas, forming...
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems
9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

9. Support New, Environmentally-Aware, Economic Systems

Just as with the previous section – ‘Energy’ – which is, inescapably, all about fossil fuels so pre-eminent and extraordinary has been their dominance and transformation of the world in the last 20...
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation
10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

10. Reduce Wastes to the Rate of Natural Assimilation

Section 10 will attempt to organise this enormous topic by addressing the context and status of pollution in 10.2, before focussing in on air pollution; particularly greenhouse gas pollution and cl...