The “Slow Cities” movement promotes the deceleration of urban life. In Spain, six urban centers are already attached to this initiative, which began in Italy in 1999
“Slow Cities” are characterized by a way of life in which their citizens slow down, traditional tradition and ways are valued, without neglecting the technological advances that help to improve the quality of life. These cities acquire a personalized style and are no longer part of a homogenized world. It is the movement “Cittaslow”, which began in Italy in October 1999 has spread throughout the world.
* Article by Rosae Martín, from Microtendencias21, Nov. 7, 2013
Modern cities vibrate lively and energetically under the premise that time is money and gold. Contemplation, going to work on a bike or just going for a walk, chatting with the neighbor, enjoying our routine in a calm and quiet … seem to be a waste of time.
But the urban model based on speed and frenetic pace has begun to be questioned, and many parts of the planet have already managed to introduce changes to slow down their cities.
Praise to slowness
A citizen of Madrid, Beijing, London, Tokyo, San Paulo or Paris joining the words “city” and “slowness” is at least attractive. In the face of traffic jams, noise, asphalt, cement, queues, haste, cities slow down and become more livable spaces where noise, traffic and agglomerations are part of the past.
The “Slow Food” initiative served to slow down the pace of life in urban centers, and it was with this in mind in 1999 that Bra and three other Italian towns (Orvieto, Positano and Greve in Chianti) set in motion the “Cittaslow”, tired of the gradual loss of quality of life of its citizens, the deterioration of its surroundings, the collapse of its artistic heritage, and the loss of its culinary identity.
These cities of less than 50 thousand inhabitants decided to group together and signed a document to become refuges for the acceleration of urban life and the frenzy of the modern world.
Today, the Slow City, Cittaslow and Slow Cities movements are present in cities all over the world, including: Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, China, Canada and the United States.
According to the statement appearing in the article “The Boom of Slow Cities” by Pier Giorgio Oliveti, Director and General Secretary of Cittaslow International, Cittaslow, “it is a city with a soul that deals in a holistic way of handling ‘life with Tranquility’.
In addition, it is a city that regains the importance of memory.In a globalized world, we run the risk of losing our identity, our history, our perspective of a long-term path. So Cittaslow is also a project of quality for the next generations. ”
Being slow does not mean being apathetic, retarded or technophobic. The movement proposes preserving, on the one hand, the architecture, the crafts and the culinary tradition but also welcomes the best of the modern world. Its premise is, does this improve our quality of life? If it improves, the initiative is welcomed and set in motion. Each city generates its own identity and lives slowly but without pause.
Requirements for a “Cittaslow”
Any city can not be a “Cittaslow” in the strict sense. Among the requirements is to have less than 50,000 inhabitants and comply with a manifesto of fifty-five criteria, such as reducing noise and traffic, increasing green areas and pedestrian islands, support local farmers and shops , Markets and restaurants to sell their products, promote a technology that protects the environment, preserve the aesthetics and culinary traditions of the locality and foster the spirit of hospitality and good neighborliness.
When all these points have been put in place and the inspectors of the international network have the approval, the city begins to use among other things the logo of the association that is an orange snail, on whose shell Lies an urban set.
This logo works as a certificate of quality and in turn is a focus of tourist attraction for those seeking this type of destinations. However, there are people sympathetic to the movement who see some principles as an impediment to advance the movement in a natural way, such as the limit of citizens to 50 thousand inhabitants.
In Ferrara, the medieval city located in northern Italy, the number of bicycles reaches almost the number of inhabitants. If the number of inhabitants is around 132,000, the number of bicycles is approximately 100,000.
In addition, the movement has spread to other smaller areas such as the individuals and families called “Friend Cittaslow” when promulgating and promoting Slow principles.
Six slow cities in Spain
The Spanish Network of Slow Cities was created in April 2009 and consists of six municipalities: Begur (Girona), Bigastro (Alicante), Lekeitio(Bizkaia), Mungia (Bizkaia), Pals (Girona) and Rubielos de Mora (Teruel).
Since then the number of cities that have joined the network has not been expanded. The reasons for this temporary abandonment are due to the fact that the project was enthusiastically founded but the economic crisis, the multiple cuts and budgetary problems have diminished the attempts to expand and consolidate this network in our country, since the initial investment by the Municipalities, and other agents involved is fundamental, both to enter the network and to stay within it.
Following this line, the network of “Slow Cities” in Spain could emerge strongly if it were seen as a new model to revitalize and diversify the Spanish economy. In short, an alternative to exit the crisis and generate economies on a small scale and sustainable in time and space.
The “Slow Cities” in books
Among the books written on the movement “Slow” and “Cittaslow” include the bestseller of the Canadian journalist based in London, Carl Honoré, Praise of slowness , which invites us to rethink our relationship with time, since according to Honoré : “We paid a very high price for submitting ourselves to a vertiginous and uncontrolled rhythm of life”.
Similarly, María Novo, PhD in Philosophy and Education Sciences, writer, artist and Director of the Unesco Chair in Environmental Education and Sustainable Development proposes in her book, Slowly, slowly: 20 reasons to go slower Life, “a leisurely walk to reflect on the causes of the acceleration that creates so much stress in the current age, and offers other ways that allow you to lead a more serene and satisfying life.
Original article by Rosae Martí: http://www.tendencias21.net/El-movimiento-Ciudades-Lentas-promueve-la-desaceleracion-de-la-vida-urbana_a26677.html
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton