TransitionTowns and Cittaslow

17 01 2010

                The Transition Towns Model and CittaSlow Movement were introduced to the class today, in two very casual and interactive, yet compelling presentations. It seems only appropriate that the CittaSlow Movement would find its roots in small European towns, and most appropriately in Italy.  My impression of the slow movement translates to living with passion and taking the time to enjoy the natural rhythm of life, food, people, and the landscape.  Slow food may take the centre of this movement due to its strong connection to people’s culture and heritage, but also because it is a common thread—for life, for enjoyment—that connects all people. Slow Food encompasses the root of sustainable living and engagement in the CittaSlow movement.  The art of working the land, growing local foods, processing and harvesting the food, preparing and cooking the food, and enjoying the taste and texture with friends and family—is a process that takes time, planning, teamwork, and passion.  This process is the basis of community engagement, spirit, enjoyment, health, and environmental preservation.  The process of slow food is representative of the cycle of life, cradle to grave, and provides a snapshot of sustainability: a cyclic way of processing resources, minimizing waste, and recognition that hard work is necessary for this process to take place.  We rush about life, scheduling as much into our day as possible, counting our accomplishments by how much money we earn, time we spend working, people we meet, and items we check off on our to-do lists.  Convenience is valued more than hard work and process.  The CittaSlow movement has intrigued me to learn more about CittaSlow Cowichan, the requirements for a CittaSlow town, and the process of transitioning into this way of life.  This will be a very creative and challenging process for most North American towns due to a major disconnection to place and culture, opposing values, and urbanization of land.

“While many cities focus on creating bigger, faster, newer, shinier and sexier infrastructure..a CittaSlow community focuses on quality of life for its neighbourhoods, people and environment” –The Slow Cowichan website

To become an accredited Slow City, the town must pass 55 criteria inlcluding: environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and Citta Slow awareness (Slow Movement Website)

                The Transition Town model may be more easily implemented into many municipalities, towns, and cities due to its soft backdoor approach.  I understand this model to be more of a “social experiment” — an opportunity for discussion and exploration, because there is no one right answer to many of our concerns and challenges revolving around peak oil and climate change.  A key to this model may be finding creative ways to motivate engage the community—and meeting them at whatever level they are at.  A Transition Initiative is a community working together to address this BIG question: “for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?” (Transition Towns Wiki).  I feel that the Transition Town approach may be more appropriate for the city of Colwood: creating a community awareness of climate change, create a carbon decline framework, connect with the existing community groups, connect with the municipal government, and form special interest groups/advisory teams for different interest groups.  Some community member may want to be involved in food, energy, transport, health, wellness, economics, recreation etc.  I like the idea of the Transition Town model because it does not give a prescription to a problem, instead it promotes motivated individuals to engage the entire community in to creating solutions unique to the individual community, and provides the framework on how these ideas might be generated and implemented.

Websites referenced:

http://www.slowcowichan.com/

http://www.slowfood.ca/

http://www.transitiontowns.org/

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One response

19 01 2010
Rick Kool

Totally nice posting, Charlene… You got the main points of the presentation and understand them. The carbon descent plan might be most appropriate for Colwood as you say, but wouldn’t’ it be great to begin to help them to think about “slow”!!

Rick

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