According to Paolo Saturnini, a member of Cittaslow International and former mayor of Greve, we must prevent the excessive growth of cities, through an urban planning policy guided by principles to control new building and particularly to reuse and assign new functions to existing buildings.
The Cittaslow movement warns that a slow city must not retreat into its shell, but that it must work to create new solidarity between districts and neighbourhoods, cities and their outskirts, urban and rural areas, and of course between nations and continents.
Our network is characterised by cities in which the historic centres are pedestrian areas in which the traffic and noise disappear promoting peaceful strolls, and in which large retail stores are rejected in favour of small traders in the area, thereby favouring local products.
How to become a slow city?
The Cittaslow Association is open to cities of less than 50,000 inhabitants. To be a member, a city must meet at least 50% of the Cittaslow self-assessment objectives.
One of the main actions that characterises a slow city is the participation of its inhabitants.
Each person is invited and expected to take part in the project in a spirit of openness and mutual tolerance, while respecting the pace required for sharing ideas and collectively creating projects and new proposals: in other words, slowly.
Activists of this movement consider that democracy and education as well as collective decision-making require more time. Moreover, ecology, respect for nature, the relationship between human beings and nature correspond to a different scale than that of human beings at an individual level. Therefore, valuing slowness also implies allowing the time required for reflection and deliberation.
The fact that participation is an inherent aspect in the creation of slow cities is a very interesting point in understanding the link between the Cittaslow movement and the right to the city. The Cittaslow movement may be understood as a successful experience of the right to the city. In fact, participation, as we have seen in the Cittaslow Charter, is also one of the fundamental points in the World Charter of the Right to the City.
It asserts that citizens must recover and re-conquer the city and not leave it in the hands of big companies, cars, polluting industries and big housing companies; quite the contrary, they must fight to impose a different vision of the city, one that is shared, welcoming, with plenty of public space in which meetings are possible. Participation is not the only aspect of the right to the city that the Cittaslow network develops and adopts: the desire to create an identity, to be happy and to be proud of the place in which you live; this feeling of belonging to a place is also one of the strong points of the rights to the city. (Summary of Charlotte Mathivet · www.hic-net.org.)