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Mindful : February 2014
LEARN MORE about somebody today by really hearing what they’re saying. Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter When a group of fifth graders and their teacher showed up at a Sonoma Valley city council meeting to express their concern about the dwindling popula- tion of honeybees, Virginia Hubbell took notice. That kind of passion for a local cause, she thought, made Sonoma Valley a great candidate to become a Cittaslow city. Cittaslow (pronounced “cheetah-slow,” using the Italian word for city) takes the principles of the Slow Food movement—which began in Italy in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food—and applies them to town governance. It links people doing good work in communities around the world who believe that small-scale choices can have global impact. While there are exceptions, the designation is for communities with fewer than 50,000 residents. “It’s an oppor tunity for individuals to make a differ- ence in their town by banding together with other like- minded people and organiza- tions,” says Hubbell, who is the founder and director of Cittaslow USA. Not So Fast Volunteers at the first Sonoma Valley Bee Count. Pollinator Pals partnered with Cittaslow to effect change in their community. Cittaslow International, star ted in 1999, has 177 member cities in 27 coun- tries. In 2009, Sonoma Valley became the first American city to be designated, followed by Fairfax and Sebastopol in California. Now communi- ties in Florida, Vermont, and New York reportedly have their eye on earning designa- tion. To qualify, a city needs to meet criteria regarding environmental protection, infrastructure, local product use, cultural values, and hospitality, among others. Membership benefits include publicity, knowledge sharing, and suppor t from other mem- ber cities. Cittaslow USA will hold its first national confer- ence in 2015. Hubbell says being a member of Cittaslow can help a community retain its per- sonality. “I think of this as the small-town movement across America,” she says. “We want to preserve character so that America does not become homogenized, like one gigan- tic mall from the West Coast to the East Coast.” ● PHOTOGRAPHBYMELINDAKELLEYPHOTOGRAPHY,WWW.MELINDAKELLEY.COM now 16 mindful February 2014