Slow Movement

carl honore

The Slow Movement advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. It began with Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome in 1986 that sparked the creation of the Slow Food organization. Over time, this developed into a subculture in other areas, such as Cittaslow (Slow Cities), Slow living, Slow Travel, and Slow Design. Geir Berthelsen and his creation of The World Institute of Slowness presented a vision in 1999 for an entire ‘Slow Planet.’

Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad summarizes the philosophy, stating: ‘The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.’

The Slow Movement is not organized and controlled by a single organization. A fundamental characteristic of the Slow Movement is that it is propounded, and its momentum maintained, by individuals that constitute the expanding global community of Slow. Although it has existed in some form since the Industrial Revolution, its popularity has grown considerably since the rise of Slow Food and Cittaslow in Europe, with Slow initiatives spreading as far as Australia and Japan.

Opposed to the culture of fast food, the sub-movement known as Slow Food seeks to encourage the enjoyment of regional produce, traditional foods, which are often grown organically and to enjoy these foods in the company of others. It aims to defend agricultural biodiversity. The movement claims 83,000 members in 50 countries, which are organized into 800 Convivia or local chapters. Sometimes operating under a logo of a snail, the collective philosophy is to preserve and support traditional ways of life. Today, 42 US states have their own convivium.

Slow Gardening is a movement that helps gardeners savor what they grow using all their senses through all the seasons. It is not about being lazy; rather it is aimed at getting more out of what they do. Slow Money is a movement to organize investors and donors to steer new sources of capital to small food enterprises, organic farms, and local food systems. Slow Money aims to develop the relationship between capital markets and place, including social and soil fertility. The goals of the Cittaslow movement is to resist the homogenization and globalization of towns and cities and seeks to improve the quality and enjoyment of living by encouraging happiness and self-determination.

Slow parenting encourages parents to plan less for their children, instead allowing them to enjoy their childhood and explore the world at their own pace. It is a response to hyper-parenting and helicopter parenting, the widespread trend for parents to schedule activities and classes after school every day and every weekend, to solve problems on behalf of the children, and to buy services from commercial suppliers rather than letting nature take its course. It was described most specifically by Carl Honoré in ‘Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From The Culture Of Hyper-Parenting.’

Slow Travel is an evolving movement that has taken its inspiration from nineteenth-century European travel writers, such as Théophile Gautier, who reacted against the cult of speed, prompting some modern analysts to ask ‘If we have slow food and slow cities, then why not slow travel?’ Other literary and exploration traditions, from early Arab travelers to late nineteenth-century Yiddish writers, have also identified with slow travel, usually marking its connection with community as its most distinctive feature. Advocates of slow travel argue that all too often the potential pleasure of the journey is lost by too eager anticipation of arrival. Slow travel, it is asserted, is a state of mind which allows travelers to engage more fully with communities along their route, often favoring visits to spots enjoyed by local residents rather than merely following guidebooks. As such, slow travel shares some common values with ecotourism. Its advocates and devotees generally look for low-impact travel styles, even to the extent of eschewing flying.

Slow Art is an emerging movement evolving out of a philosophy of art and life expounded by the artist Tim Slowinski. Later developments in Slow Art have been championed by such proponents as Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic and columnist for ‘The New York Times.’ It advocates appreciating an art work in itself as opposed to a rapid, flitting witnessing of art common in a hectic societal setting. One of its central tenets is that people often seek out what they already know as opposed to allowing the artist to present a journey or piece in its entirety. Another interpretation of Slow Art relates to creating art in a slow way. This practice is about being mindful of detail, valuing the history inherent in re-usable materials, putting time into creating small items. The practice encourages the maker to be naturally meditative as they create. ‘Slow’ ends up being a way of being. An example of local makers creating in this way is highlighted by those involved with the inaugural Eastside Makers Market in Tasmania.

Slow Media is a movement aiming at sustainable and focused media production as well as media consumption. It formed in the context of a massive acceleration of news distribution ending in almost real-time digital media such as Twitter. Beginning 2010 many local Slow Media initiatives formed in the US and Europe. Others experiment with a reduction of their daily media intake and log their efforts online (‘Slow Media Diet’).

The term “Slow Fashion” was coined by Kate Fletcher in 2007: ‘Slow fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum.’ The Slow Fashion Movement is based on the same principals of the Slow Food Movement, as the alternative to mass produced clothing (‘Fast-Fashion’). Initially, The Slow Clothing Movement was intended to reject all mass produced clothing referring only to clothing made by hand, but has broadened to include many interpretations and is practiced in various ways. Some examples of slow fashion practices include: Choosing artisan products to support smaller businesses, fair trade and locally-made clothes; Buying secondhand or vintage clothing and donating unwanted garments; Choosing clothing made with sustainable, ethically-made or recycled fabrics.; Choosing quality garments that will last longer, transcend trends (a ‘classic’ style), and be repairable; Doing it yourself – making, mending, customizing, altering, and up-cycling your own clothing; Slowing the rate of fashion consumption: buying fewer clothes less often.

The Slow Fashion movement is a unified representation of all the ‘sustainable,’ ‘eco,’ ‘green,’ and ‘ethical’ fashion movements. It encourages education about the garment industry’s connection and impact on the environment and depleting resources, slowing of the supply chain to reduce the number of trends and seasons, to encourage quality production, and return greater value to garments removing the image of disposability of fashion. A key phrase repeatedly heard in reference to Slow Fashion is ‘quality over quantity.’ This phrase is used to summarize the basic principles of slowing down the rate of clothing consumption by choosing garments that last longer.

As part of the agile software development movement, groups of software developers around the world look for more predictive projects, and aiming at a more sustainable career and work-life balance. They propose some practices such as pair programming (in which two programmers work together at one workstation, one ‘driving’ and one ‘navigating’), code reviews, and code refactorings (a disciplined technique for restructuring an existing body of code, altering its internal structure without changing its external behavior) that result in more reliable and robust software applications.

The Slow Science movement’s objective is to enable scientists to take the time to think and read. The prevalent culture of science is publish or perish, where scientists are judged to be better if they publish more papers in less time, and only the best scientists are able to maintain their careers. Those who practice and promote slow science suggest that ‘society should give scientists the time they need.’

Slow Goods takes its core direction from various elements of the overall ‘Slow Movement’ and applies it to the design and manufacturing of physical objects. It focuses on low production runs, the usage of craftspeople within the process, and on-shore manufacturing. Proponents of this philosophy seek and collaborate with smaller, local supply and service partners. Slow Goods practitioners must have those tenets baked into their business model, it must be the top driver in the procurement of sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques. This local engagement facilitates the assurance of quality, the revitalization of local manufacturing industries, and reduces greatly the footprint related to the shipment of goods across regions of land and or water. The genesis of a product is becoming more of concern for consumers. Some companies have now woven this philosophy into their corporate structure. The source of a product and its parts has become increasingly more important. This movement seeks to break current conventions of perpetuating the disposable nature of mass production. By using higher quality materials and craftsmanship, items attain a longer lifespan that harkens back to manufacturing golden era of the past.


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