The industrial city of Wenzhou, China, (population 2 million) is currently known for its rapid development as an economic hub, but some residents hope it may someday be known as a “slow city.”
Recently, a delegation of Wenzhou citizens visited the Tuscany headquarters of Cittaslow, an organization credited with starting the slow cities movement. The delegation was concerned about the side effects of a hyper, fast-paced life and wanted to learn more about how living slow might preserve cultural heritage in China. The delegation visited local markets and artisans’ studios, including a shop where the Italian art of handmade shoes is still practiced. The artisans they met emphasized the role Cittaslow has played in preserving the value of crafts, like shoemaking, that are only possible with a great deal of time invested and a strong local economy.
The United Nations projects that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. And indeed, the industrial and economic hubs of the world may be the last places that evoke ideas about living slow. But with inevitable population growth in urban areas on the horizon, many city governments are trying to make their communities more enjoyable to live in and less destructive to the environment.