Take it slow


Carrie Sze tells G why she went slow, and shares how she chooses to live today.


Kylie Kwong shares with G why she loves the slow movement, in particular, slow food.


Christin Lewis explains how her life changed when she discovered the slow movement.

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Slow cities

Forget the fast lane – it is possible to enjoy urban life minus the traffic, noise and crowds. Inspired by the success of the slow food movement, the Italians initiated the slow cities movement in 1999 – Cittaslow (pronounced chitta-slow) to the locals.

There are 147 slow cities in 24 countries, including three in Australia: Goolwa in South Australia, Katoomba in New South Wales and Yea in Victoria. To achieve the status of a slow city, “a city must agree to accept the guidelines of slow food and work to improve conviviality and conserve the local environment”. The city can have no more than 50,000 residents and must adhere to 55 criteria, including environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric and encouragement of local products and produce.

Slow cities have less noise, traffic and pollution, and aim to be litter and graffiti free. They are not opposed to progress; rather, the movement is about preserving unique community characteristics and working with technology to plan for a sustainable future.

G Tip: Ban the word busy from your vocabulary. Focus on what you have achieved, not what is still waiting for your attention. Talking about being busy makes you feel busier. About 85 per cent of people answer the question ‘how are you?’ with ‘busy’. - Susan Pearse, Mind Gardener.

Slow money

From banks in the Cayman Islands to Switzerland and everywhere in between, money zips around the world faster than we can comprehend. And as the distance between investors and their investments grow, our knowledge of where our cash is headed and its impact on people and the environment is reduced.

The slow money movement seeks to steer investors to smaller, more local food enterprises, organic farms and food systems. Coined by finance guru Woody Tash, the term refers to investors who shun traditional channels for direct investments where the money goes to a local agriculture program, bakery or organic grocery store. Money is exchanged locally rather that globally for the benefit of growers, sellers and shoppers in your region.

While the returns on investment may not equal those made on Wall St, Tasch says the financial industry needs to focus on local businesses and sustainable enterprises in the long term. And benefits of a smart sustainable investment are twofold: you’ll turn a profit and make a contribution to the green economy.

G Tip: Part of slowing down is saying no. There are reams of studies showing that by sleeping more, resting more and working less we reduce our risk of heart attacks and other ailments. - Carl Honore, author of ‘In Praise of Slow’.

Slow mind

Do you feel mentally and physically cluttered? If your home is littered with more stuff than you know what to do with, and you’re constantly thinking about the past or future rather than the present, it’s time to have a clean out.

The psychological concept of mindfulness is intrinsically linked to sustainability – it encourages us to pay attention to what’s happening now without brooding over the past or fretting about the future. Living in the moment means we’re much more likely to enjoy simple pleasures and as a result, consume less stuff.
And being mindful means great things for our wellbeing. Focusing on the present means we’re more likely to have greater emotional strength and experience fewer bad moods and less stress.

“Slowing down and living a more mindful life results in decreased stress and increased happiness,” says Pearse. “When we are mindful we are consciously paying attention to things without the chatter of the busy mind. It’s like a mini meditation and achieves the same benefits that science has found in these activities.”

Combine a calm mind with a spring clean to fully immerse yourself in the slow movement. Tamara DiMattina from Buy Nothing New Month says a clean-up helps us to slow down and feel great.

“It lightens the load somehow, physically and mentally. Many of us feel weighed down by our stuff – cupboards bulging with clothes we have forgotten we own, paying for storage because our own places are brimful.”

Going slow:

Carrie Sze, 31
"A trip to Cambodia triggered the change of pace in my life. It led me to re-evaluate my priorities. Learning about the Khmer Rouge, the genocide, meeting the people, the survivors who with much humbleness are rebuilding their lives, made me reflect about what was really important to me.
So I made the choice to stop chasing by slowing down and working part time. This gives me the time to promote positive change in environmental issues and social justice. I feel I have more control of my life. I am less angry and frustrated and definitely less stressed as I now have a work/life balance where I can make changes for the better without any pressure.
I get much enjoyment in the simple things I used to take for granted. Now I toast my own muesli and have time to ride my bike."

Kylie Kwong
"Eating ethically is a great passion of mine and so I’m obsessed with the whole subject of slow food, it means so much to me.
Essentially, I grew up with the idea of slow food already implanted in my learning. My mum was always a great Cantonese cook and she taught us how to cook. Through her actions she taught us how important it was to always have fresh produce in the kitchen, and how important it was to look after the people who grew our food, and she taught us how to share food with people, and how food can connect people and make them happy.
The reason why I love using locally sourced organic and biodynamic produce in my restaurant is because it’s naturally grown. And nature, being nature, you’ve just got to go with it, you’ve got to go with the flow."

Christine Lewis, 41
"When I was in my 20s I thought I wanted to be independent and have an education, assets, money, designer clothes and a great job. By my 30s I had secured a degree in London, purchased a flat in the city, established a small share portfolio and was working as a private bank manager.
However, one day I woke up and realised that as these achievements were obtained, the level of satisfaction was diminishing. I had a clash with senior management and realised that the corporate world’s desire for ‘meeting the shareholders’ needs’ was starting to conflict with my moral code and personal satisfaction.
I returned to Australia and set up my own business – a guesthouse in Daylesford in country Victoria – which enabled me to pursue my passions for food, wine, people and fun times.
I enjoy the new luxury of fresh air, time to spend with friends and a traffic-free life within a community that has an amazing heartbeat. My biggest decision each day is to decide if I walk my dog in the forest or around the lake, or which cafe to go to for a latte."

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