Organizing our thoughts on Slowth

Change the way you move

Credit: Simphewe Nkwali (Eco-Mobiliy Johannesburg

The  Slow Movement) advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. It began with Carlo Petrini‘s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome in 1986 that sparked the creation of the slow food movement. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, like the Cittaslow organisation for “slow cities”. The “slow” epithet has subsequently been applied to a variety of activities and aspects of culture.

What is  more important to you this morning?  That your trip is fast?  Or quick?

Thanks to Wikipedia at  for this good synopsis.

Geir Berthelsen and his creation of The World Institute of Slowness presented a vision in 1999 for an entire “slow planet” and a need to teach the world the way of slowness. Carl Honoré‘s 2004 book, In Praise of Slowness, first explored how the Slow philosophy might be applied in every field of human endeavour and coined the phrase “slow movement”. The Financial Times said the book is “to the Slow Movement what Das Kapital is to communism”. Honoré describes the Slow Movement thus:

“It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”

Professor Guttorm Fløistad summarises the philosophy, stating:

“The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.”

The slow movement is not organised and controlled by a single organisation. A fundamental characteristic of the slow movement is that it is propounded, and its momentum maintained, by individuals who constitute the expanding global community of Slow. Its popularity has grown considerably since the rise of slow food and Cittaslow in Europe, with slowness initiatives spreading as far as Australia and Japan.

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Honey, you gotta slow down (92 seconds)

Let’s start at the beginning. It is the consistent position of our transport sharing program that much of what is wrong with our current transportation arrangements in cities could be greatly alleviated if we can just find ways to slow down. A bare five miles per hour over the speed limit on a city street, and you have this . . .

Fast and Slow / Reflections

ABOUT “SPEED” (REMINDER): (a) Speed kills.  (b)  Speed (predicating distance) eats up public space.  (c) Speed pollutes. (d) Speed is inefficient in a tight, populated urban geography. (e) Speed is by nature inequitable.  (f) Speed separates people and communities. (g) Speed increases social indifference. (h) de facto increases distances (sprawl). But speed also has deep psychic roots in mankind, which we must understand  if we are to make wise policies.

ABOUT “SLOW”:  “Slow” is more often than not treated as a negative value: a slow child (not too bright), witless, obtuse, stupid, unperceptivebovine, stolid, slow-witted, dull-witted, etc. . . . not necessarily despriptive of the qualities of a well working, many-layered 21st century mobility system

In the context explored here  however “slow” means or suggests: gentle, unhurried, calm, leisurely, long-lasting, relaxed, unrushed,  sedate, measured, peaceful, deliberate, careful, cautious, and more along those lines. (It is important to get this straight from the beginning, that is to say we explore it here as a positive human concept in a world  all too often obsessed with speed at all costs.)

About the author:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and international sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. 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 and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport - . | Britton online:

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