SLOW pitch

Soooooooooo. Want to hear about the latest craze in Wolfville?   Better listen up as it may be coming soon to a community near you.

Last night at the Council meeting the latest cause was presented to Town Council. The “Another first for Wolfville” bait was hung tantalisingly before the Council fish; the mayor for one was already hooked. They – a small special interest group [Slow Food NS: membership $90/yr $110/couple] – wants the town to be Canada’s first SLOW town,  nay North America’s first SLOW town. What is a SLOW Town you ask?

Basically SLOW towns, or CittaSlow[!]  are  – to quote Tyee

a growing collection of towns — recognizable by a snail logo — dedicated to relaxation, sustainability, quality of life, community and preservation of tradition. … As the Citta Slow organization puts it, the movement is about countering the “proliferation of uniformity” wrought on civilization by a homogenizing global culture of capitalism.

Elsewhere the ethos is described as “sustainable hedonism“. That sounds pretty accurate.

Slow Food was founded by a journalist named Carlo Petrini in 1986, as a joke reaction to the opening of a McDonald’s franchise near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Because fast food was a household name, he wanted Slow Food to become a household name as well. And so he started Slow Food through a pasta-eating protest in front of the Spanish Steps.

We warned you that the next thing our governments would be wanting to control would be food and we weren’t wrong. For those who don’t really want to download the whole pdf package from the Town website we have copied the SLOW Town presentation put before Council. Read it for yourself.  Emphases in bold are ours and please excuse our inserted random train of thought comments in red.

Slow Food is a non-profit [This means not self supporting] , eco-gastronomic [or is that gastro-economic?] member-supported [soon to be Town supported? ] organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
There are approximately 100,000 members worldwide [Do we take their word on this?]
A simple premise • GOOD • CLEAN • FAIR FOOD [ And this is different from what we have now, how? – Who decides what is good? Who defines Fair? ]
Principles
• Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. [ Who knew? We thought it was just what we tried to eat. We never gave it a name. And if it is Good and Clean and Fair but Fast is it still SLOW? ]
We believe that the food we eat should taste good [No kidding?  Why didn’t we think of this?] ;
that it should be produced in a clean way [because everyone so far has wanted it produced in an unclean way. Don’t talk to us about kosher…]  that does not harm the environment [??? Does pulling weeds count as harm?], animal welfare [oh no— there goes the chicken and beef – all meats really . Snails anyone?]  or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation [Minimun wage?] for their work.
Citta Slow/ Slow City is to towns what Slow Food is to individuals

The “Excellences of Qualification”
Citta Slow Designation is a framework for planning for the future while preserving the past. [Preserving the past! Could mean making the tomato sauce at home, eating around the dining room table together as a family and going to a restaurant only a few times a year for special occasions … is that the kind of slow past – circa 1956 –  you think they want to preserve or are they thinking of a leisurely lunch with wine at the Tempest? ] The potential city is assessed against a set of criteria in six different sections:
• Environment (pollution, waste management and recycling)
• Infrastructure (open space, seating, public conveniences, access, traffic management)
• Quality of Urban Fabric (historic buildings, gardens, parks, use of new technology) [And this has to do with Good, Clean, Fair food how?]
• Local Produce and Products (local producers and suppliers of food and crafts, healthy eating, the arts, farmers market)
• Hospitality (facilities for tourists, community life. Slow Food)
• Awareness (communications, local involvement, education) [We’re locally involved but not quite this way.]

Citta Slow World Wide [Because that’s what buying local is all about!]
• Bra [population 29,169!]  and Orvieto [population 21,000], Italy are the original Slow Cities [Italy- the source of the original fast food – PIZZA. ]
• The movement has expanded to 100 towns and 14 countries all over the world since 1999, connecting administrators, citizens and Slow Food partners
• Europe; 11 countries, about 80 cities
• South Korea – 4
• New Zealand – 1
• Australia – 3, 3 pending
• US – 0
• Canada – 0

Comparables? Competition?
Ludlow UK [population 10,000] is similar to us, Market town, well know [sic] for culture and as an important culinary destination http://www.ludlow.org.uk/
• At present there is NO North American Slow City
Cowichan Bay BC has applied. Leader of Slow Food Canda [SIC!] lives there

First Steps
• Create a Citta Slow Committee – [That will cost us .]
• Solicit partners – Slow Food NS, Select NS, NS Tourism, NS Agriculture, Federal Support? [Tax payer money.]
• Make formal Application . A written statement that assesses the excellences and how we measure up [Who pays?]
• Assessment of application by Italy [Really? By Italy? You know they may eat SLOW but they drive like demons, as if a speed of 150 km per hour might still get them to the appointment they will be late for because they spent too long lingering over their lunch! ]

• Visit by Citta Slow delegation to assess first hand [Expenses paid by who?]
• Identify supporting cities
• Timeline???

The benefits
• An international group of like minded municipalties [sic],
ever growing network [How is this a benefit?]
• Significant tourism opportunities. Many 100’s of thousands of Slow Travellers [Really? We’ll believe that when we see it.] now looking for an authentic experience. Agritourists, culinary travellers have been recognized by Tourism NS as market opportunities
• Potential business growth opportunities for companies that share these ideals
• With the expanding global movement for local and sustainable, perception as a municipal leader [This should appeal to someone we know!] , mentorship possibilties
• Media opportunities to promote the town [That won’t be hard.]
• Quality of life improvements for residents – and pride of place.  A chance to celebrate our uniqueness in NS

Why Wolfville?
• Appropriate Size (under 50,000 inhabitants) [ Why size matters is not explained. The other cities are much bigger. Maybe they can afford this AND pave their Main St.]
• Fair Trade designation already in Place
• Strong Restaurant base
• Smoking Ban
• Al Whittle Theatre (Centre for Art, cinema, music, theatre) [Halifax doesn’ t have these things? ]
• Growing winery area [Because alcohol is GOOD CLEAN FAIR food!]
• Façade improvement [Not to mention the swimming pools, flower pots!]
• Justus
• Galleries [Halifax has more Galleries.]
• Signage bylaws considered progressive by Citta Slow– No neon/backlighting [Except of course for Acadia Cinema which is exempt. ]
Bylaw against fast food!!!!!! VERY important [Say goodby to Tims, Subway – Pizza parlours even??]
• Support of Farm Market [Which ones?]
• Arts and culture centre of the Valley/non urban Nova Scotia
• Sustainable development plan – bicycles, green plan, open space/parkland
• Leader of SFNS is a resident [We hear he is Michael whatshisname of the Tempest. Self interested maybe? This should be a reason NOT to support this initiative. Are we to support every resident’s pet cause or just certain ones?]
• Support of NS Tourism for idea (niche marketing money) [More taxpayer money]
• Strong recreation programs [?????]
• OUR TOWN IS ALREADY STEPS AHEAD ON THE PATH

Conclusion
• We have many attributes already in place
• Nova Scotia Tourism is very positive in regard to this initiative. Possible significant support [ Our $$$ from another taxpayer pocket]
• We have a community mentality that is consistent with Slow City Ethos [There’s that Town character again – a myth!]
• This would be beneficial for residents  (measured, quantifiable, sustainable growth in concert with important relevant ideals) [Measured? Quantifiable? This we have to see.  Heck they don’t even like the AIMS report card!]
• A celebration of our town with globally recognized values

Another quote from the Tyee .  … the designation is “not a marketing tool,” but a new way to think about civic planning that recognizes “the quality of life for people who live in your town and for the people who visit.”

Do you really believe that?

It is easy to make fun of this initiative but you know to be serious, we are a small town and nothing is mentioned in the presentation about cost. Did anyone mention it? This is something that would be a better fit for Halifax which has a higher critical mass of people who might be interested in “sustainable hedonism”.

Not everyone can afford to eat at the Tempest as nice as it would be. It is one thing for a group to promote this for members who can afford to belong, but if embraced by the town with by-laws against fast food it would be an elitist policy which would increasingly marginalise the under-privileged as the smoking bylaws do.

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8 responses to “SLOW pitch

  1. George Townsend

    I was at this presentation last night. I must admit that the “cost” did cross my mind but it was neither mentioned by the presenter nor questioned by the council. While the goals and objectives of the so-called SLOW movement appear harmless ( albeit I detected a certain amount of brainwashing on the part of its supporters ) I find it somewhat disconcerting that the lifestyle choices of a few should be forced upon the town. I couldn’t help think about our empty stores. Will taxpaying SLOW businesses fill them? Will they succeed? If the market is prepared to support these ventures, I wish them well — but I wouldn’t agree that they should be subsidized by ratepayers. Neither do I agree that fast food businesses should either be banned or penalized by means of town bylaws. The whole proposal appears suspicious. What exactly are they asking the town to do if they don’t want money? Moral support? Sure! Financial support? I don’t think so! If we want businesses to flourish in Wolfville, we must relieve the horrendous tax burden and the chains of a needless bureaucracy from the necks of prospective entrepreneurs. Empty stores do not pay even minimum wages — nor do they attract customers. The addition of one-hundred thousand dollar flowerpots at the expense of ratepayers won’t do the trick either. If we want to fill our empty stores with successful businesses, we must give our local entrepreneurs a chance to succeed. Stop wasting money and lower taxes. That’s the only recipe for success.

  2. We don’t suppose you could ask the question. The Councillors, most of them anyway, don’t want any questions.

  3. Fair Trade, Farmer’s Market great, another clique for some Wolfville businesses. SLOW? Business was so slow for some they closed. Does this make my house more appealing on the market? I’ll move to New Minas where taxes are low, business is booming, and there are forward thinking people.
    Wolfville could keep Tim Hortons and change the name to “slow Tim’s” and Subway to “Horse & Buggy”!

  4. This SLOW Food outfit sounds like another type of thought-policing. Mayor Stead must be beside himself with joy…

    It’s just another holier-than-thou special-interest-group with their fingers in our pockets — and seeking to control our lifestyle.

    I’ve got an alternative lifestyle suggestion. Let’s just buy a young few steers in Spring and let them roam around eating lawns and the Mayoral flower beds. In the Fall we’ll knock ’em off and have a big SLOW Town roast… a couple of weeks of feasting. Saves money on pesticides, gardening, and lawn mowing. Also it would fertilize the ground, feed the poor, and bring the community together for feasting and merriment. Oh yeah, it would remind us of our more earthy origins — that should give the fuss-pots something to tut-tut about. What could be better?

    I wouldn’t expect Council to take my SLOW Roast any more seriously than this SLOW Food bulldust.

    Hasn’t Council got a REAL job to do?

  5. I am indeed saddened that there is such negativity here connected with what is essentially a goal for the Town of Wolfville to achieve. The first person to propose Wolfville as a Slow City was not even a resident of Wolfville, but of Hants County, and he did this six years ago, long before Wolfville even explored a sustainable future.

    If you are against walking down a street with shops and restaurants that support a local economy where businesses buy Nova Scotia first; if you are against a town that advocates healthy eating and food for our children in school that is sourced locally and celebrated; if you are against supporting agriculture and the development of new industry (wine!) that will create more jobs and more notice of our town and our region; if you are against filling our empty storefronts with businesses that are nimble enough to adapt to the new economies and our future as a cultural, culinary and agritourism centre, then I encourage you to oppose Citta Slow Status.
    This is nothing more than an effort to reinvigorage our town while respecting our agricultural background with respect to new technologies and concern for sustainability, while at the same time making an effort to support ALL businesses in an effort to attract more visitors and residents to our town; it is a cause to celebrate that our heritage and our area could benefit from Citta Slow Status. As a businessperson who employees 15 people year round in Wolfville who live, buy and shop here, I am deeply disheartened that I am labelled self serving. I want ALL businesses to succeed. I, like you, am disheartened by the empty storefronts – We are trying to do something about it!
    We will have a committee meeting of interested persons at Tempest 4pm on August 1st that will engage a committee (so it is iron clad in everyone’s mind that it is not just another ‘Wolfville residents pet project’) should you or any readers be interesd in attending. This should be celebrated, not vilified!

  6. We are not against walking down a street with shops and restaurants that support a local economy where businesses buy Nova Scotia first [if they wish], nor are we against a town [if you mean the townspeople in general via their choices and not by administrative fiat] that advocates healthy eating and food for our children in school that is [optionally , not forced to be] sourced locally and celebrated;. Nor are we against supporting agriculture and the development of new industry (wine!) that will create more jobs and more notice of our town and our region; we are definitely not against filling our empty storefronts with businesses that are [allowed to be] nimble enough to adapt to the new economies and our future [ whatever those are – not necessarily predefined by someone who doesn’t really know]. It is a wonderful vison and we have suggested many times that commercial taxes be reduced which [we believe] would work for all of those things.

    We are not even against Citta slow as a concept as long as it is a private effort. We don’t think however it should be subsidised by all ratepayers. If it is cost free to the Town, sure! Knock yourself out. But if experience is any guide this campaign like others won’t be cost free. Tax relief would go a lot further to revitalise all businesses in town and not favour any one in particular.

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