Greetings. [Intro…] I am honored to speak on behalf of the Interim Steering Committee of Cittaslow Sebastopol. Last Spring, the city applied for and received designation as a “slow city” in the Cittaslow network. Over the summer and fall, a group of us got together to see if we could come up with a structure and ideas for how Sebastopol could take advantage of this “slow city” designation. In particular we see 3 primary benefits to membership: Economic benefits for our local businesses Networking benefits for urban planning issues Social benefits for helping us become a stronger, more resilient community Let me explain.
As many of you are aware, getting things done in Sebastopol is a bit like…
Herding Cats! We have passionate and engaged citizens from all walks of life.
Political Activists… And this is just to name a few.
There are so many diverse communities within our village, it can be surprisingly difficult to find common ground.
In fact, it brings one to ask if it’s possible to find a group that might serve as an umbrella where we can all meet under a shared philosophy.
For instance, a group that supports local products, such as our bountiful agriculture and the creative arts. A group that promotes our hospitality industry, perhaps in a “Slow Travel” context.
How about a group the uses new technologies and encourages connectivity between businesses, non-profits and the private sector?
Could there be a philosophy or group that encourages sustainable environmental policies, and a human friendly infrastructure?
There is! This is what Cittaslow is all about. “Cittaslow” means “Slow City” in Italian. Let me read to you a somewhat stilted, but poetic translation from their website: Slow cities are “towns where men are still curious of the old times, towns rich of theatres, squares, cafes, workshops, restaurants and spiritual places, towns with untouched landscapes and charming craftsman where people are still able to recognize the slow course of the Seasons and their genuine products, respecting tastes, health and spontaneous customs.... The Slow Cities movement promotes the use of technology oriented to improving the quality of the environment and of the urban fabric, …safe-guarding the production of unique foods and wine that contribute to the character of the region…Of course this way is meant to be, less frantic…; but there is no doubt that it will be more human, environmentally correct and sensible for the present and future generations; the project will respect small realities in a more and more global connected world.” What’s not to love here. Doesn’t this sound like Sebastopol?
For as unique as we are with our quirky Sebastopol style, the truth is…
We are not alone. There are many small cities around the world, striving to retain their unique character. And they are banding together in Cittaslow.
Cittaslow is an outgrowth of the Slow Food Movement which started in Italy over 20 years ago. At that time, McDonalds wanted to open a franchise in the oldest piazza in Rome. A group of Italian citizens protested. They did not want the monoculture to overrun their cherished traditions, so they organized the Slow Food Movement.
Slow Food philosophy is dedicated to using local produce, preserving local culture. It emphasizes high quality. The food is not slapped together, but is instead simmered slowly on the stove. Meals are served in a beautiful environment. You’ve seen in films where people in Europe eat outdoors overlooking a lovely garden or vinyard. And the meal is not just about the food. The nourishment comes from the hospitality of the host and the social engagement of the people at the table.
The mayor of a small town in Tuscany recognized that this Slow Food philosophy could be transposed to a new philosophy of urban development. So he pulled together other mayors of small towns in Italy and in 1999 they began a network based on 6 key concepts, roughly translated as: Supporting local products (agriculture and the arts) Promoting hospitality (which in urban planning context means tourism. “Slow travel”) Using technology appropriately to support local culture and green practices in “the urban fabric” Encouraging community connectedness so the citizens enjoy a strong and resilient village Preserving natural beauty with sustainable environmental policies Creating human-friendly infrastructure with parks, bikes and walkways free from dominance by the car
Cittaslow has grown well beyond Italy. It is now an international movement that encompasses 146 towns in 24 countries around the world. These small towns are banding together to support each other in what can most succinctly be described as preserving local flavor while maintaining global vision. Sound familiar?
Sebastopol has been a slow city for years. Look at these 6 precepts. This IS Sebastopol.
In fact, when we applied to Cittaslow International we had to answer over 50 questions across the 6 criteria (local products, hospitality industry, sustainable environmental policies…). We received the highest score of any of the USA applicant cities so far.
What does becoming a member of Cittaslow do for us? They provide an infrastructure and give us exposure we can’t easily do on our own. The international organization works to promote awareness of Cittaslow values and of Cittaslow cities. They have Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts where they can post about our activities. They highlight countries, so you can see here they are featuring slow cities in Austria. They sponsor events and facilitate connections between cities. They even offer Cittaslow t-shirts, cups, media kits, etc. to help member cities get the word out.
We see many benefits to membership. First of all, there are economic benefits. Cittaslow can give Sebastopol national and international exposure we can’t readily do for ourselves, especially in the area of promoting us as a “Slow travel” destination. This will be good for local businesses and the arts. We can import dollars to our town (not just international, but also domestic travel as well.) We anticipate the work groups will provide opportunities for organizations to collaborate and create events and programs that will bring tourists who are harmonious with our slow way of living. The great part of this is, the city staff doesn’t have to do any work. The elbow grease will come from volunteers in Cittaslow.
In addition to economic benefits, there are networking benefits for the city. For instance, especially as the movement builds in the U.S., you can find out about other Cittasow towns and how they are handling the kinds of challenges we face.
Lastly, Cittaslow offers opportunities for us to benefit socially by finding common ground for our diverse communities. By bringing together government, businesses and non-profits we can build upon each other’s work. Rather than everyone functioning in isolated silos and re-inventing the wheel, Cittaslow has the potential to bring these groups together in common cause. Using technology and shared events, we can increase connectivity and awareness. I got my masters in Public Health in Canada. There they focus on creating not just healthy individuals, but health communities. They seek to build capacity within a town, getting the public, private and non-profit sectors to work together to make the village more resilient. It is through collaborative efforts like Cittaslow that we can leverage our strengths, find that umbrella of common ground to build a more cohesive community.
To take advantage of this membership, the Interim Steering Committee has developed a proposal for a public-private partnership. In Italy, there is a designated Cittaslow Coordinator on the staff of each mayor’s office. That’s not what we would do here. What we are proposing is a group with representation from the Council, but primarily made up of businesses and non-profits who look for ways to leverage the slow city designation to Sebastopol’s benefit. The designation belongs to the city, so the city needs to participate and have some skin in the game. But we want this to be an initiative that is driven by multiple sectors across the community. As I understand it, the best analogy would be the World Cities Committee, or perhaps the Sebastopol Entrepreneur Project. Membership dues for Cittaslow are 1500 euros, which works out to about $2100. Thusfar, we have acquired a matching grant from an anonymous private donor for 50% of those dues if the city will provide the other 50%. In addition, we have started the process of educating the town about Cittaslow and have obtained some initial endorsements.
The next steps are for the City Council to officially authorize a Steering Committee for this public-private partnership and match the Cittaslow dues for our membership. Once we’re official, the Interim Steering Committee will recruit more members, develop a membership structure and create workgroups which will then define projects.
The Interim Steering Committee is ready to get going. All we need now is for you to authorize the Steering Committee and match the grant for our membership dues.
Introduction to Cittaslow
• Economic benefits for small business • Networking benefits for urban planning • Social benefits for a more cohesive community International network of “slow cities”
Getting things done in Sebastopol is a bit like…
Could there be a group with an umbrella philosophy?
Could there be a group with an umbrella philosophy? <ul><li>Supports local products </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agriculture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative Arts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Promotes hospitality (“Slow travel”) </li></ul>
Could there be a group with an umbrella philosophy? <ul><li>Uses new technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages connectivity between people, businesses and organizations </li></ul>
Could there be a group with an umbrella philosophy? <ul><li>Preserves environment </li></ul><ul><li>Creates human-friendly infrastructure </li></ul>
There is! Cittaslow (pronounced “chee-TAH sloh”)
Slow Food Philosophy <ul><li>Local produce </li></ul><ul><li>Local culture </li></ul><ul><li>High quality </li></ul><ul><li>Slowly simmered </li></ul><ul><li>Served in a beautiful environment </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoyed with others </li></ul>
Began as a Mayors’ Network <ul><li>Supports local products (agriculture & the arts) </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes hospitality (“Slow travel”) </li></ul><ul><li>Uses technology wisely </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages community connectedness </li></ul><ul><li>Preserves environment </li></ul><ul><li>Creates human-friendly infrastructure </li></ul>
Sebastopol has been a “slow city” for years <ul><li>Supports local products (agriculture & the arts) </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes hospitality (“Slow travel”) </li></ul><ul><li>Uses technology wisely </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages community connectedness </li></ul><ul><li>Preserves environment </li></ul><ul><li>Creates human-friendly infrastructure </li></ul>
Sebastopol achieved highest score of applicant cities in the USA
What Cittaslow does for us <ul><li>Promotes awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Improves exposure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sponsors events </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates connections </li></ul><ul><li>Provides collateral </li></ul>
Economic Benefits <ul><li>National / International exposure </li></ul><ul><li>“ Slow travel” </li></ul><ul><li>Good for local business </li></ul><ul><li>Create events and programs </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers do the work </li></ul>
Networking Benefits <ul><li>National / International support </li></ul><ul><li>Connecting with other mayors & councils </li></ul><ul><li>Learn from experience of others </li></ul>
Social Benefits <ul><li>Common ground across multiple sectors </li></ul><ul><li>Not re-inventing the wheel </li></ul><ul><li>Community cohesion and resilience </li></ul>
What we have done so far <ul><li>Developed proposal for public-private partnership </li></ul><ul><li>Acquired matching grant for international membership dues </li></ul><ul><li>Obtained initial endorsements </li></ul>
Next Steps <ul><li>Authorize Steering Committee </li></ul><ul><li>Match 50% for international membership dues </li></ul><ul><li>Recruit Steering Committee members </li></ul><ul><li>Create membership & work group structures </li></ul><ul><li>Identify projects </li></ul>
Let’s get going! <ul><li>Authorize Steering Committee </li></ul><ul><li>Match 50% funding for international membership dues (≈$1050) </li></ul>