How big cities are adopting slow living

Previously reserved for towns and cities with fewer than 50,000 people, the Cittaslow organisation’s slow city concept is now attracting interest from the world’s largest metropolises

A rooftop garden on the Southbank, London Photo © Garry Knight
A rooftop garden on the Southbank, London Photo © Garry Knight

The industrial city of Wenzhou, China, (population two million) is currently known for its rapid development as an economic hub, but some residents hope it may someday be known as a “slow city”.

Recently, a delegation of Wenzhou citizens visited the Tuscany headquarters of Cittaslow, an organisation credited with starting the slow cities movement. The delegation was concerned about the side effects of a hyper, fast-paced life and wanted to learn more about how living slow might preserve cultural heritage in China. The delegation visited local markets and artisans’ studios, including a shop where the Italian art of handmade shoes is still practiced. The artisans they met emphasised the role Cittaslow has played in preserving the value of crafts, like shoemaking, that are only possible with a great deal of time invested and a strong local economy.

The United Nation projects that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. And indeed, the industrial and economic hubs of the world may be the last places that evoke ideas about living slow. But with inevitable population growth in urban areas on the horizon, many city governments are trying to make their communities more enjoyable to live in and less destructive to the environment.

The beginning of slow cities

Cittaslow grew out of Slow Food, a local food movement founded in 1986 to counter the rise of fast food in Italy. Thirteen years later, Cittaslow became a way to expand Slow Food concepts.

“The ‘slow’ philosophy is applied to not only what you eat and drink, but to all aspects of life in a town,” said Paolo Saturnini, Cittaslow’s founder.

“Slow city principles stress the importance of things like eating local, in-season food, shopping at locally owned businesses, and preserving cultural heritage.”

Saturnini created the organisation when he was mayor of Greve, in Chianti, to push back against globalisation and preserve the unique treasures of Tuscany. He was inspired by interactions he saw in Italian piazzas, like the market the delegation from Wenzhou recently visited. He saw value to what happens when people come together face to face, catch up, relax, and take in their surroundings.

Slow city principles stress the importance of things like eating local, in-season food, shopping at locally owned businesses, and preserving cultural heritage and small-operation craftsmanship. Supporters of the movement also emphasise the value of a life where work is not necessarily prioritised above all else, and the importance of making room for natural environments so residents can experience the rhythm of the seasons. Over the years, Cittaslow has sought to prove every city has a unique personality that can be preserved and a local community that can be strengthened.

Currently there are 192 certified slow cities worldwide. Sonoma, California, was one of the most recent additions to the growing list. To be certified, Cittaslow towns must have fewer than 50,000 people.

But that is beginning to change. Pier Giorgio Oliveti, director of Cittaslow, said he has noticed a huge influx of interest from major metropolitan cities over the last five years. According to Oliveti, the technological infrastructure available in bigger cities, such as broad-reaching public transit, is a boon to those who want to simplify. One of Cittaslow’s core values is utilising today’s technological innovations to recreate the slower lifestyle of the past.

“There is no such thing as a slow city that is not also smart,” said Oliveti. “Infrastructure and technology are essential.”

Living at the third story

Although some city governments are just now catching on to Cittaslow’s ideas, individuals have been implementing slow living principles on their own for quite some time. William Powers, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute in New York City, recently spent a year living slowly in Manhattan, a practice outlined in his new book, New Slow City. Cittaslow and Slow Food provided the foundational concepts, said Powers, for his experiment.

In order to slow down in Manhattan, Powers and his wife uncluttered their lives by giving away nearly 80 percent of their possessions and moving into a 320-square-foot apartment. He also downsized his work week by working more efficiently. Instead of facing a constant stream of consulting, writing, and public speaking, Powers assessed his income-to-time-invested and then squeezed the most strategic tasks into a two-day work week.

Living slow, says Powers, “starts with each of us creating space to … ask the core questions, like: How do we find balance in a world that is changing more quickly than ever before in history?”

During his year-long experiment, Powers used his liberated time to explore New York. As he strolled downtown, flâneur style, he developed his own slow-city principle: “living at the third story.” Every time he walked down the street he made a conscious effort to observe the sky, trees, and birds above him. He noticed that doing that helped him ignore the often-stressful commotion on the city’s ground level and instead observe the hawks stalking pigeons from the Washington Square Arch or the leaves changing on trees growing from the sidewalk.

Thanks to increased interest from citizens like Powers, the world’s biggest cities are taking steps to implement Cittaslow principles and make it easier for residents to work less, build community, and enjoy nature.

Barcelona © Moyan Brenn
Barcelona © Moyan Brenn

Where: Barcelona

Population: 1.6 Million

What: Urban Agriculture

Slow Principle: Smart City/Green Urban Sanctuaries

Barcelona’s mayor and the city’s chief architect have both been working with Cittaslow for years, spearheading the organisation’s new project, “Cittaslow Metropolel.” The project, geared toward bringing slow living principles to big cities, has a long list of participating cities including Busan, South Korea; San Francisco, Rome, and Milan. Barcelona’s mayor announced the city’s ambitious goal at the 13th Biennale of Architecture in Venice, saying he wants Barcelona “to be a city of productive neighbourhoods at a human pace, making up a hyperconnected city of zero emissions.”

Inspired by a lecture given by Oliveti on slow living principles, students at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) were recently challenged to imagine each neighbourhood in Barcelona as a slow city, with each piece connecting as one giant “smart city.” One idea that emerged from IAAC was to transform typically underutilised urban spaces, like pedestrian bridges, as urban agriculture sites that double as green sanctuaries for citizens. More greenery means cleaner air and fresher food, and aligns with the slow principle of keeping nature within reach.

A Tokyo park © Kazuhiko Maeda
A Tokyo park © Kazuhiko Maeda

Where: Tokyo

Population: 13.4 Million

What: Voluntary Blackout

Slow Principle: Minimising Environmental Impact

Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world, is home to its own slow living organisation called Sloth Club. Founded more than 15 years ago, the club’s mission includes minimising “our destructive impact and finding joy in our life without consuming an endless chain of meaningless things.” In admiration of the sloth’s slow style, the club also works to save sloth forest habitat in Ecuador by supporting fair-trade products from the region.

Back in Tokyo, members of Sloth Club follow principles like eating slow, supporting local businesses, upcycling (repurposing something that could have been thrown out), and walking or using public transport. One of the club’s main initiatives is a national campaign calling for residents of Tokyo to turn off electric lights for two hours in the evening during the summer and winter solstices to promote an appreciation of natural light and minimal use of electricity.

A “walking school bus” at West Boulevard Elementary, Columbia © Flickr member MoBikeFed
A “walking school bus” at West Boulevard Elementary, Columbia © Flickr member MoBikeFed

Where: Providence and Columbia

Population: 178,000 and 115,000

What: Walking School Bus

Slow Principle: Community Organising

The “walking school bus,” an original tenet of Cittaslow, is gaining popularity in places like Providence, Rhode Island, and Columbia, Missouri, where thousands of schoolchildren walk to school en masse, guided by an adult volunteer. Last year Molly Rusk wrote an article for YES! Magazine about how the trend benefits student’s health and builds strong community ties.

New York © Namphuong Van
New York © Namphuong Van

Where: Denver and New York

Population: 649,0000 and 8.5 Million

What: Micro-apartments

Slow Principle: Downsizing

Denver and New York are about to cut ribbons on new micro-apartment complexes, akin to the efficiency apartments that were commonplace decades ago. For people looking to slow down their routine, affordable apartments in downtown Denver and New York City give those who would normally have to commute the ability to walk or bike to their offices.

Residents of these micro-apartments save money, can spend less time working, and minimise their impact on the environment. The units, which tend to average a compact 330 square feet, include a kitchen, bathroom, balcony, and an in-house bike and car-sharing programme.

Living slow to build community

After spending a year living on the third story in New York City, Powers and his wife have moved to Bolivia and taken the slow habits they learned in one of the world’s biggest cities with them. Beyond cutting expenses and reducing the amount of hours he had to work, Powers designed his routine so he interacts with the people who live and work in his neighbourhood.

Instead of rushing past people every day, he now stops to engage with his neighbours. Of all slow city principles this is perhaps the most important one: reconnecting with your surroundings.

Powers talks about the day’s catch with the fishmonger at the restaurant below his apartment. He has become a regular fan of the jazz group that plays in the park near his house. And he has learned the names of the pigeons from the man who feeds them every day.

First published by Yes! Magazine

Category: Community, Culture, Lifestyle, Wellbeing

Tags: cities, lifestyle, Slow

Location: Global

Author: Zanna McKay

Hungry Planet, the legend


Dans le cadre de l’OPEN SQUARE de l’espace culturel CarréRotondes, SLOW FOOD Luxembourg et Fairtrade Lëtzebuerg organisent depuis 2008 des soirées sous la dénomination de HUNGRY PLANET.

La planète a faim. Une partie de l’humanité réclame plus de nourriture, une autre des aliments plus sains. Sera-t-il possible de concilier le bon goût des riches et les droits élémentaires des pauvres ? Sujets complexes que nous voulons traiter d’une façon plus ludique que traditionnelle.

La prochaine soirée «Hungry Planet» est la dernière à avoir lieu dans les locaux du CarréRotondes avant le déménagement vers les Rotondes (où la série de conférences continuera à partir d’octobre).

«Hungry Planet, the legend»

La mythique exposition de 2007

what_the_world_eatsHungry Planet, what the world eats: A l’origine était un livre du photographe Peter Menzel et de l’auteure Faith D’Aluisio paru en 2005 sous le titre «Hungry Planet : what the world eats». Dans cet ouvrage devenu un classique du reportage photo, les auteurs présentaient des portraits de 30 familles dans 24 pays avec sur leur table tout ce qu’elles mangeaient durant une semaine. Affichant des photos splendides de Peter Menzel et des textes poignants de Faith D’Aluisio, le livre a notamment été repris en version allemande par GEO («So isst der Mensch»).

L’exposition au Hall Paul Wurth: En automne 2007, la coordination de «Luxembourg et Grande Région, Capitale européenne de la Culture 2007» reprit l’approche du livre en le transposant en une exposition attrayante affichant des agrandissements grand format des photos et une mise en scène des textes dans des tables originales. Pour l’occasion, Menzel et D’Aluisio ont passé deux semaines au Luxembourg pour compléter l’exposition par trois portraits de familles luxembourgeoises d’horizons divers. L’exposition connut un grand succès, malgré sa durée d’ouverture limitée.

L’exposition réédition limitée: En 2008, les associations Slow Food et Fair Trade ont repris le titre de l’exposition pour une série de plus de 40 conférences thématisant la faim dans le monde. Parallèlement, depuis 2007, l’exposition était stockée au grenier dudit Hall Paul Wurth. A l’occasion du déménagement du CarréRotondes vers les Rotondes, les panneaux de l’exposition vont être dépoussiérés et montrés au public en marge des soirées organisées à l’occasion de la clôture du CarréRotondes, à savoir du 4 au 8 mai. Pour cette dernière soirée HUNGRY PLANET au Hall Wurth, les visiteurs auront droit à une visite guidée de deux des responsables de l’exposition (visite vers 19:30h)

Best of Hungry Planet: depuis 2009 le traiteur maison du CarréRotondes, la société Steffen, s’est énergiquement investi dans l’idée du manger planétaire et compose un menu qui s’inspire des thèmes des soirées. Ces menus sont restés légendaires auprès d’un public toujours plus nombreux. Ainsi, à l’occasion de cette soirée presque commémorative, les inscrits auront droit à un buffet affichant une sélection des meilleures recettes des dernières six années:

Taboulé de Millet et Boulgour, Tartine de fromage de chèvre, Tartare de betterave et fraises, Tartare d’orange et datte, Brusquette de sardine, Purée de coco blanc, Tartare de lisette et betterave, Chili con carne au chocolat, Risotto d’épeautre, Gnocchis maison, Panna cotta rhubarbe café, mousse au lait d’amande.

Discussion dans l’ambiance conviviale du CarréRotondes, sous fond de musiques tropicales.

Date :
Mardi 05.05.2015 à 18:30 heures
Lieu et adresse :
Carré Rotondes, 1 rue de l’Aciérie, Luxembourg-Hollerich
Frais de participation :
Membres(*): EUR 20,- Non-membres : EUR 25,-
(*) Membres Slow Food, Fairtrade

L’inscription pour cet évènement doit se faire par virement des frais de participation sur le compte CCP no. IBAN LU03 1111 1719 6884 0000 de l’a.s.b.l. Slow Food Luxembourg avec la mention «Hungry Planet», avant le jeudi, 30 avril 2015.

Distillerie Dolizy & Guillon


Wir freuen uns Sie hiermit einzuladen zur Besichtigung der

Distillerie Dolizy & Guillon

Clos du Fourschenhaff in Ehnen

Seit der Übernahme der Brennerei im Jahre 1998, brennen Pit und Margot feinste Edelbrände aus heimischem Obst. Damit die Qualität des Obstes stimmt, bewirtschaften sie 5 ha eigene Obstgärten auf biologische Weise. Neben den klassischen Sorten werden hier auch seltenere Sorten wie die Wahlsche Birne, die Kornelkirsche oder die Löhrpflaume gebrannt.

Zuerst werden wir in der kleinen aber feinen Brennerei in der „Kiirchegaessel“ in die Geheimnisse des Brennens eingeführt und einige feine Tropfen verkosten.

Danach geht es per pedes durch die Weinberge zu den Obstgärten die am Ort des ehemaligen „Clos du Fourschenhaff“ liegen. Dort werden wir Interessantes über die Obstgärten und die verschiedenen Obstbäume erfahren. Danach wird uns Pit Dolizy im Holzchalet im Obstgarten ein leckeres Menu zubereiten.

So gestärkt treten wir den Rückweg an. Sowohl der Hinweg als der Rückweg kann per Fahrzeug erfolgen.

Samstag; 25. April 2015
10.00 Treffen am Parkplatz von Ehnen an der Route du Vin
Besichtigung der Brennerei
Spaziergang in die Obstwiesen (ca.5 km )
Mittagsessen im Chalet in den Obstwiesen.
Rückkehr gegen 14.30/15.00
Fein Bouneschlupp
Schoofsgigot an de Kraider mat gebootschte Gromperen a Geméis
Assiette de fromage fermier
Vegetarische Alternative auf Vorbestellung möglich.
Bitte per e-mail anfragen (
Besichtigung und Mittagessen ohne Getränke:
Mitglieder: EUR 34,-
Nicht-Mitglieder: EUR 38,-

Die Einschreibung für dieses Event erfolgt durch Überweisung des Unkostenbeitrags auf das Konto CCP no. IBAN LU03 1111 1719 6884 0000 von Slow Food Luxemburg, Stichwort «Drepp», vor Dienstag 21. April 2015.

Photo : Copyright

Slow Food News April 2015

Chers membres et Amis de Slow food Luxembourg,

Veuillez trouver en annexes plusieures invitations:

  1. Une invitation pour la visite de la distillerie et des vergers de Margot et Pit Dolizy-Guillon « Clos du Fourschenhaff » le samedi 25 avril 2015 à Ehnen.
  2. Une invitation pour la 43ième et dernière soirée Hungry Planet dans les CarréRotondes le mardi 5 mai 2015. Ce sera la dernière soirée au CarréRotondes puisque nous allons déménager enfin de nouveau dans les rotondes rondes de Bonnevoie! Ce sera une soirée exceptionnelle, avec l’exposition légendaire « Hungry Planet » et un « Best of » du Traiteur Steffen. Soirée à ne pas manquer donc!
  3. Une invitation pour la visite de ruchers locals organisée par nos amis de Slow Food Grand-Duché ensemble avec l’association Bee together

Meilleures Salutations

Thierry Origer

Barrique – Luxemburger Wein in Luxemburger Eiche


Im Rahmen des «OPEN SQUARE» im CarréRotondes organisiert SLOW FOOD Luxemburg, in Zusammenarbeit mit verschiedenen Partnern, die Veranstaltungsreihe HUNGRY PLANET.

In Zusammenarbeit mit „Leader Miselerland“ lädt Slow Food Luxemburg zur nächsten Veranstaltung (in luxemburgischer/deutscher Sprache):

«Barrique – Luxemburger Wein in Luxemburger Eiche»

Lange ist es her, dass in Luxemburg Weinfässer aus luxemburgischer Eiche hergestellt worden sind – dies obwohl die luxemburgischen Wälder bis heute das Material dafür liefern. Die Herausforderungen, denen sich der Winzerverband mit diesem Projekt stellte, waren vielfältig:

  • Bestandsaufnahme der luxemburgischen Eichenpopulation
  • Erstellung eine Ursprungslabels mit der entsprechen Nachvollziehbarkeit und Kontrolle
  • Wissenschaftliche Begleitung des Projektes durch das CRP Lippmann
  • Ausbau der ersten Weine in den Barriques in Zusammenarbeit mit mehreren Winzern.

Marc Weyer, Winzer und Vorsitzender des Winzerverbandes, wird uns die Entstehungsgeschichte und den Verlauf des Projektes erzählen.

Film: Der Film „Barrique“ von Tom Hynek (Sprache Lux./Deutsch, 100 min), erzählt das Projekt von der Auswahl der Eiche über die Verarbeitung zur Barrique bis hinein in den Weinkeller. Entstanden ist eine Hommage an die Natur, die Jahreszeiten und den Menschen, an die Eiche und den Wein.

Fingerfood (vegetarisch):

  • Oeuf fumé, écume de roquette
  • Toast grillé, crème de choux fleurs
  • Fromage de Berdorf, poire pochée au Pinot Noir
  • Calisson de Pommes de Terre aux cèpes
  • Verrine de salade de fruits et sa vendange tardive

Verkostung: Natürlich werden wir auch einige (Wein)-Tropfen aus der heimischen Eiche verköstigen!

Termin :
Mittwoch 11.03.2015 um 18:30 Uhr
Exit07 im Carré Rotondes, 1 rue de l’Aciérie, Luxembourg Hollerich
Film, Menu, Weinverkostung
Mitglieder: EUR 14,- Nicht-Mitglieder: EUR 18,-

Die Einschreibung für dieses Event erfolgt durch Überweisung des Unkostenbeitrags auf das Konto CCP no. IBAN LU03 1111 1719 6884 0000 von Slow Food Luxemburg, Stichwort «Barrique», vor Donnerstag, 5. März 2015.