Safe cities and the S L O W . . . movement

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Fired by the success and support for Slow Food the Italians set about initiating the Slow Cities movement. Slow cities are characterised by a way of life that supports people to live slow. Traditions and traditional ways of doing things are valued. These cities stand up against the fast-lane, homogenised world so often seen in other cities throughout the world. Slow cities have less traffic, less noise, fewer crowds.

Towns in Italy have banded together to form an organization and call themselves the Slow Cities movement. In their zeal to help the world they have formed what amounts to a global organization that sets out to control which cities in the world can call themselves Slow Cities and which cannot. This is not a movement. Social movements are movements from the bottom from the community. The seachange movement, the organic movement, the vegetarian movement, the homeschooling movement, are examples of movements. No-one controls them. No-one assesses you to see if you are allowed to call yourself a seachanger or if you can say you are a vegetarian.

Yet, the Slow Cities movement – Citta Slow – holds the power to assess a city that wants to be called a slow city. Citta Slow have developed a:

  • Manifesto – setting out the underlying principles
  • Charter of Association – cities wanting to be granted the status of Slow Cities must sign this charter
  • A list of member cities
  • Plans for an annual gathering.

No town or city with more than 50,000 residents may apply to be called a Slow City. The Slow City manifesto contains 55 pledges or criteria, grouped into six categories upon which cities are assessed; environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and Citta Slow awareness. To qualify to be called a Slow City and to use the snail logo, a city must be vetted and regularly checked by inspectors to make sure it is living up to the Slow City standard of conduct.

The principles of the Slow City movement are one we would like all cities no matter how big or small to live by. Hopefully the movement will continue and another grassroots slow city movement will operate in parallel whereby cities that cannot meet the strict criteria for one reason or another can still call themselves slow cities and continue to work towards sustainable living and the ethos of the slow movement.

Perhaps this new movement is already here. Check out slowlondon. As the site says: “Firstly, it is nothing new. There are people in cities all over the world who have found all sorts of ways to bring a sense of relaxation to places where it can often be stressful to live. slowlondon provides a place for these people to meet and share their ideas. On the other hand, there are many of us who are interested in finding out how to make commuting a pleasure rather than a chore….how to avoid fallling into bad habits at work just because everyone ele does it like that… how to reclaim time as the friend it really is.

“slowlondon hopes to provide inspiration and also support, because sometimes it requires a certain bravery to stand up and say no, there are other ways than this.

“The principles that underpin slowlondon apply to whichever city you live in. Some of the details may be different but on the whole, people all around the world face the same challenges.”

© Copyright 2018 Footprint Choices. All rights reserved.

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World Streets Slow City 2020 brings you useful background from the pages of World Streets to lend a hand to planners, researchers, policy makers, NGOs, students, media and other concerned with the challenges of sustainable cities in general, and in particular with those of calming traffic speeds in combination with other complementary measures. It also contains a five-part “transport researcher’s toolkit” to help those who are interested to dig deeper on these issues and the tools at our disposal to deploy them.

Supporting media
* Slow City: Notes for a Thinking Exercise:
* Slow City on World Streets:
• Slow City on Facebook :
* Slow City on the Planners Bookshelf –
* Via World Streets on Twitter:
* Via World Streets on LinkedIn :

Some Citaslow references:

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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