Cittaslow: By-Product or Reparation of Globalization?
By Dok Chon
Issue 11 Winter 2012
Globalization is no longer a new concept, and with the help of advancing technologies the world has become more connected and more dependent on interchangeable products, ideas, and cultures. It is responsible for the growth of homogenized urbanization resulting in one “mega-culture” for people living in Megacities around the world. However at the opposite end of the spectrum is a movement called Cittaslow. This growing movement looks to utilize technology as a tool to preserve the unique culture and the quality of life for communities in small cities and towns. In the first Cittaslow chapter was started in Italy, in 1999, by Carlo Petrini, and it has since extended its global network to towns in many other countries such as Canada, China, South Korea, Australia, the United States and other European nations.
According to the World Health Organization: “For the first time ever, the majority of the world’s population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to grow. Currently, around half of all urban dwellers live in cities with between 100 000 – 500 000 people, and fewer than 10% of urban dwellers live in megacities (defined by UN HABITAT as a city with a population of more than 10 million).”
Given these conditions concerns are growing about preserving our quality of life, the environment, the food that we eat, and the uniqueness of our local cultures. In response to these concerns Carlo Petrini – the Mayor of Bra, Italy and one of the pioneers who founded the Slow Food food movement – created Cittaslow. Paolo Saturnini a past Mayor of Greve, Italy later joined Petrini, and Cittaslow’s global network now includes 161 cities in 25 different countries across the globe.
In order to join Cittaslow a town must have a population under 50,000, and to be considered for a full membership needs to meet 50% of Cittaslow goals. A participating city’s goals are focused on celebrating the diversity of their culture, preserving the uniqueness of their attributes, and improving their quality of life. With the help of technology the Cittaslow movement aims to conserve the environment, prevent mass products from overwhelming the local market, and protect rural micro-towns against urbanization. Each hosting country has their own website and charter to organize and initiate community-focused events that protect and promote their own culture, lifestyle, and ecosystem.
One can only wonder if a movement like Cittaslow is the natural outcome of globalization or resistance against it. Whichever it is, growing megacities necessitate efforts to sustain our environment and cultural diversity. With the power of networking the world has been globalized. Now with the help of networking, Cittaslow is working to retain uniqueness and originality within our world for a better and more sustainable future.