Cittaslow, USA in Sebastopol
On Saturday, March 30 Sebastopol hosted the second annual gathering of Cittaslow USA, the national organization for Cittaslow cities in the United States. Twenty representatives attended the event held at O’Reilly Media, including Mayor Michael Kyes of Sebastopol, Council Member Sarah Gurney, and Council Members from Sonoma and Fairfax.
Cittaslow (pronounced “chee-TAH sloh”; Translation: “Slow City” in Italian) is an international movement of 168 cities across 26 countries. It began in Italy as an offshoot of the Slow Food movement and involves urban planning, cultural, and civic activities that preserve local flavor and quality-of-life by emphasizing 6 priorities:
- Support for locally made products and agriculture
- Celebration of local culture and history
- Welcoming of visitors and fostering of neighborliness
- Integration of technology for well-being
- Protection of the environment
- Development of community-friendly infrastructure
Sebastopol applied for and was awarded the designation as a Slow City in 2010 under the direction of then Mayor Sarah Gurney. The city has since formed an ad hoc committee, Cittaslow Sebastopol, which seeks to leverage that designation through collaboration with businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies.
Saturday’s get together involved the three founding cities of the Cittaslow network in the United States: Sonoma Valley, Fairfax and Sebastopol. In addition, the Canadian Cittaslow city in Chowican Bay, British Columbia made an appearance via video interview. Each city reported on their successes and challenges since last year. The founding cities also strategized about ways to work together in the future to increase visibility for Sonoma and Marin counties.
Promoting Sebastopol as an eco-tourist destination was a top priority expressed by residents who attended the Planning Commission’s community meetings last January.
Some of the ideas mentioned included creation of a “3 Slow Days in the Wine Country” tour; a conference; a “Slow Tour of the Wine Country” map; or a website to emphasize local businesses, organizations and activities that are especially “cittaslow.”
For more information about Cittaslow Sebastopol, go to the Facebook page at www.cittaslowsebastopol.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.