Today's date:
Fall 2000

Slow Cities: Neo-Humanism of the 21st Century

In July, 10 Italian cities announced, in conjunction with the Italian Ministry of Culture, the formation of a "League of Slow Cities." Paolo Saturnini, the mayor of Greve in Chianti, was named coordinator of the network, which is closely related to the local chapters, or "convivia," of the Slow Food movement.

Below are excerpts of the league's manifesto and founding statement.

Rome-In the beginning, man found food. Then he sought shelter and protection: dwellings, villages and towns sprang up. Finally came the time of machines, and rhythms of life became increasingly feverish and frantic. Today man dreams of liberation from the many anxieties that his own project has created. He is looking for more serene, tranquil, reflective ways of life. At the end of the contradictory, restless 20th century, the wise man proposes salvation and the model of cities where the living is easy
The new international "Slow City" movement implements a program of civilized harmony and active peace founded on the serenity of everyday life to bring together towns and cities, large and small, which share common features and move in this direction.

Towns and cities brought to life by people "keen on time refound." Towns and cities packed with squares, theaters, workshops, cafés, restaurants, places of worship, uncontaminated landscapes and the pliers of fascinating crafts. Towns and cities in which man still recognizes the slow, beneficial succession of the seasons, the wholesomeness of tasty, healthy produce, the spontaneity of natural rites, the cult of living tradition and the joy of slow, quiet, reflective living.

The national and international association promoted by the municipal administrations that have joined the Slow Food movement will be a continuous workshop for what, hopefully, will become the neo-humanism of the early third millennium.

-from the Manifesto of the League of Slow Cities

The development of local communities is based, among other things, on their ability to share and acknowledge specific qualities, to create an identity of their own that is visible outside and profoundly felt inside.

The phenomenon of globalization offers, among other things, a great opportunity for exchange and diffusion, but it does tend to level out differences and conceal the peculiar characteristics of single realities. In short, it proposes median models which belong to no one and inevitably generate mediocrity.

Consequently, a burgeoning new demand exists for alternative solutions which tend to pursue and diffuse excellence, seen not necessarily as an elite phenomenon, but rather as a cultural, hence universal fact of life.

Hence the success of those who have pursued specificness and told the world all about it.

Slow Food, which has set out from taste to build its success and international growth on the quality of life, and the Cities which have distinguished themselves in this activity, have decided to establish an international network of Slow Cities. From now on, such cities will conduct common experiences based on a shared code of tangible, verifiable conduct, embracing everything from good eating to the quality of hospitality, services, facilities and the urban fabric itself.

Slow Cities will undersign a series of pledges and their compliance therewith will be verified periodically and rigorously in all cities which adhere to the initiative, in countries in all continents.

Slow Cities are cities which:

Implement an environmental policy designed to maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric, placing the onus on recovery and reuse techniques;

Implement an infrastructural policy which is functional for the improvement, not the occupation, of the land;

Promote the use of technologies to improve the quality of the environment and the urban fabric;

Encourage the production and use of foodstuffs produced using natural, eco-compatible techniques, excluding transgenic products and setting up, where necessary, presidia to safeguard and develop typical products currently in difficulty, safeguard production rooted in culture and tradition which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers;

Promote the quality of hospitality as a real bond with the local community and its specific features, removing the physical and cultural obstacles which may jeopardize the complete, widespread use of a city's resources;

Promote awareness among all citizens, and not only among inside operators, that they live in a Slow City, with special attention to the world of young people and schools through the systematic introduction of taste education.

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