Small Slow Cities Make Europe Great
07 Aug 02
The mayors of Italy’s Cittaslow, or Slow Cities, met in the Apennine village of Castelnovo Ne’ Monti in the province of Reggio Emilia on August 8. Also attending was Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission. ‘The Cittaslow movement,’ explained Stefano Cimicchi, president of the movement and mayor of Orvieto, ‘came into being to make tangible proposals to speak to administrators and remind them that it’s necessary to find time to rediscover our roots to build a better feature. We want to design towns and cities for people to live in, respectful of the environment and the rhythms of nature, yet technologically advanced.’ The mayors presented Mr Prodi with a series of project documents outlining how they intend to achieve their goals. Topics covered included:
- Bioarchitecture: the movement intends to promote a manual and a course for municipal technicians on materials and construction techniques and to set up an ‘International Pole of Bioarchitectural Research Communication and Information for Sustainable Development’. ‘To apply bioarchitectural concepts and practices,’ suggested Paolo Menis, mayor of San Daniele del Friuli, ‘is to acknowledge the intelligence of our ancestors’ labors.’
- Sources of alternative energy: the movement intends to promote pilot experiences, to sponsor a Master course on wind energy at Rome University and promote the use of hydrogen as a fuel according to a model developed by Jeremy Rifkin.
- Food security/Small-scale Fishing/Heroic Farming: the movement intends to develop eco-compatible, multifunctional farming and fishery systems, using formulas along the lines of the Slow Food Presidia. ‘We have to launch a new form of agriculture,’ stressed Giacomo Mojoli, Slow Food vicepresident and spokesman, ‘that pursues quality and respects the environment and the consumer. Citizens are demanding it, the land needs it, respect for our history requires it. To safeguard ancient peasant skills and agricultural methods is to raise the profile of a heritage of fundamental importance for the survival of a community and to protect the environment from very serious damage.’
-Taste and Food Education: the movement will focus specifically on the new generations and schools.
In the course of the meeting, Leana Pignedoli, mayor of Castelnovo Ne’ Monti, The Cittaslow project must not be seen as a return to the past, but, on the contrary, as the best way of living in the network of globalization without being a victim of it.’ President Prodi expressed great admiration for the initiative, albeit recognizing all the problems involved. ‘Slow Cities can only exist in a world of harmony, peace and economic and social progress. Like the one for a new Europe, your innovative model is extremely important and at the same time extremely difficult to implement. It’s already possible, however, to perceive a certain sensitivity to change that’s very much in line with your philosophy.’ Prodi went on to explain that there is still a lot of work to be done. Agriculture production is increasingly standardized, he lamented, stressing the need to improve standards of living, to govern and to manage in a globalized, contradictory world. The ‘desire small communities have to be positive protagonists,’ explained Fiorello Primi, mayor of Castiglione del Lago, ‘reflects their willingness to offer a tangible contribution to the construction of a new Europe - maybe a slower one, but nonetheless a place of solidarity, peace and progress.’ The new meeting of the Slow Cities mayors will be held at the Salone del Gusto in Turin from October 24-28, where the first Cittaslow Awards will be presented to local administrators particularly worthy of merit.