Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

monsoon

Could Charlotte ever be a Slow City?

18 posts in this topic

Given that the big news here these days is the opening of a new Target chain store, I would say that Charlotte is a long way from being considered a "slow city" for the purposes of livability, sustainability, and desirability. For an explanation of what constitutes a slow city, please see here. It's mostly a European phenomenon and we note these are some of the most desirable places in the world these day.

From the article municipalities which head to slow city status adopt the following policies:

  1. implement an environmental policy designed to maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric, placing the onus on recovery and reuse techniques

  2. implement an infrastructural policy which is functional for the improvement, not the occupation, of the land

  3. promote the use of technologies to improve the quality of the environment and the urban fabric

  4. encourage the production and use of foodstuffs produced using natural, eco-compatible techniques, excluding transgenic products, and setting up, where necessary, presidia to safeguard and develop typical products currently in difficulty, in close collaboration with the Slow Food Ark project and wine and food Presidia

  5. safeguard autocthonous production, rooted in culture and tradition, which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers and purveyors

  6. promote the quality of hospitality as a real bond with the local community and its specific features, removing the physical and cultural obstacles which may jeopardize the complete, widespread use of a city's resources

  7. promote awareness among all citizens, and not only among inside operators, that they live in a Slow City, with special attention to the of young people and schools through the systematic introduction of taste education

So the question for this topic: Should Charlotte move towards slow city status? And/or can Charlotte even pull off something like this?

BTW there is a small slow food movement in Charlotte, but as far as I know is it is absolutely not supported in any official manner by corporate or political Charlotte.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Wow. What an interesting idea. This is the first Ive heard about this. I think this would be a great thing for Charlotte to consider. We all hear and talk about Charlotte trying to be "world-class", or being the "next Atlanta". The latter baffles me. Why do we want to be like a city that has the 3rd longest commute in the country. Adopting an idea like this or anything similiar would show an amazing progressiveness for Charlotte. We need something to set us apart from other cities in the country. I dont think a new tower taller then BofA is the answer. Having said this I have to consider your question of can Charlotte even pull this off. Initially I have my doubts, but Charlotte continues to suprise me. Remember not so long ago when having a Target and Home Depot within blocks of the square was a dream? Now its a reality.

Who decides on a city becoming a "slow city"? Are any cities in the states "slow"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some elements of this could work in Charlotte, if we put forth the political will to make them happen. Others, I'm not so sure about. I have a feeling that a plan like this would be labeled "socialist" almost instantly and be shot down before it ever got legs. That's just the political climate in this part of the country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Justadude. Many of these ideas are laudable but I don't see any of them gaining meaningful traction in this town. There is too strong of a contingent that is "anti" anything that is not traditionally built and sprawly. In 2007 in Charlotte we still have elected representatives that think that light rail is some nefarious plot to kick them out of their homes and into the city. Our Mayor considers anything to do with a living wage or real environmental standards "socialist" and "political" and the majority of Charlotte area residents agree with these sentiments. Ain't happening here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to agree and guess that we are not going to get much discussion on the matter here in regards to Charlotte. My guess is the closest thing that we will see to a slow city here is what is going on in Davidson/East Cornelius. I recommend a trip up there to see how it is developing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The smaller towns have a shot at making these things work, but the language of the proposal would have to change dramatically. If the emphasis was on "traditional values" in regard to community structure and cultural preservation, it might come to pass in a place like Davidson. The real key is to communicate that the plan is to preserve the traditional spirit of the place, not to "force" people into a certain type of lifestyle that they may or may not want (and that, in some ways, is a legitimate objection to this kind of development).

I wonder whether it would even be possible for a large community to survive only on local foods, considering the way our farming economy has developed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I tend to agree and guess that we are not going to get much discussion on the matter here in regards to Charlotte. My guess is the closest thing that we will see to a slow city here is what is going on in Davidson/East Cornelius. I recommend a trip up there to see how it is developing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would only include East Cornelius in this description. They finished building a very lovely covered bridge that connects this part of Cornelius to the back side of Davidson. (t crosses the very deep ravine for the creek) It's got enough room for one car to cross (which is allowed) but is obviously setup to for bikers and pedestrians.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


While I agree that the smaller towns probably have a better shot at doing something like this over Charlotte, is it really effective for suburbs to try to implement this philosophy when they are themselves reliant on a larger entity that does not adhere to the same principles? It seems that we would need to act as ONE metropolitan area if we have a shot a pulling this off as its intended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part of Davidson is in Iredell county. I will point out that Iredell is not part of the Charlotte metro because it is not economically reliant on it so I am not sure what you said would be really applicable to the slow city movement.

In terms of Charlotte I guess I would agree that it does not seem likely that we will ever see such a thing here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of Davidson is in Mecklenburg so I don't see how that is relevant. I think that when you look at a "city" in this context you have to look at more than the political city for the principles behind being a slow city to truly be realized.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A great movement, no doubt. Very few places in North America could make this work--especially the 20th Century suburbs. Our built environment is too far gone at this point. We live in subdivisions, not neighborhoods. We live in the splendid isolation of our gated and fenced back yards. We prefer to watch films in our "home entertainment centers", rather than engage in the shared experience of a movie theater. We don't know our neighbors first names. We embrace our fiefdoms rather than the common good. We accept (and sometimes revel) in the bland mediocrity of what 21st Century North American cities give us: strip malls, cookie cutter houses, disposable architecture, and dependence on the automobile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to bring up my recent trip to Sacramento again, but what you just described M.C. is Roseville, CA to a tee. I kept asking about what neighborhood I would be in at the moment, and they kept giving blank stares and named the surrounding subdivisions. Newer always equalled better, and when describing the nicer parts of town, there was a person that didn't include the phrase "that is where all the new growth it". When asked about the bad part of town, the response was always "old Roseville", so I decided to drive through old Roseville, and found it to be the only actual neighborhood in the city with authentic craftsman homes, walkable shopping, and people actually walking places.

I guess the moral of that tangent is, people's attitude reflect the built environment. I actually consider downtown Charlotte to be "slower" than anything exisiting in Matthews, Huntersville, Cornelius (not sure is the East Cornelius referred to above is the new Antiquity project), and anyone living in Union County. These people rush rush rush in the morning to sit in traffic, then grumble all the way home, then have to drive about 5 places to get what they need (food, dry cleaning, gas, etc....) By then, they are worn out for the day, and there is no time for social interaction, and they sit in their brick/vinyl castle and let the TV fulfill their need for stimulous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... I actually consider downtown Charlotte to be "slower" than anything exisiting in Matthews, Huntersville, Cornelius (not sure is the East Cornelius referred to above is the new Antiquity project), and anyone living in Union County. These people rush rush rush in the morning to sit in traffic, then grumble all the way home, then have to drive about 5 places to get what they need (food, dry cleaning, gas, etc....) By then, they are worn out for the day, and there is no time for social interaction, and they sit in their brick/vinyl castle and let the TV fulfill their need for stimulous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I think a few cities have unconsciously evolved towards a slow-city mentality. Specifically, cities with low population growth like Milwaukee, Louisville and St. Louis come to mind. Granted, each of these areas are experiencing sprawl, but the old industrial urban cores are being slowly (sometimes painfully slow) by people with vested interests in the city. Faster growing places are dominated by national builders who view cities like Charlotte as a profit center. They make their money and are not overly concerned about the future residue. The slower growth cities have an abundance of decent architecture, great connectivity (old grids) and established neighborhoods with old-timers (not a bunch of newly arrived transplants) who care about the quality of life. In addition, the older cities are blessed with great parks and a wide-variety of affordable housing.

I am aware of more interesting "sustainability" things going on in Milwaukee and Louisville than I am in Charlotte. Perhaps the lack of a "growth imperative" allows local leaders to focus on quality of life issues. Of course, this is all subjective and I could be wrong about all this. Regardless, it's a fascinating topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


... The slower growth cities have an abundance of decent architecture, great connectivity (old grids) and established neighborhoods with old-timers (not a bunch of newly arrived transplants) who care about the quality of life... and a wide-variety of affordable housing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of the comments so far, including the concept and original post itself, I don't think we are really getting the true meaning or intent of this slow city concept. Many of us have visited these quaint European cities or towns, and there are two competing yet fundamental concepts at work - most of these towns are on the one hand nearly medieval in their self sufficiency, but contrasted against and intertwined with a large tourist industry.

The slow concept taken to it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before this post I hadn't really read a lot about, or seen a lot about the slow food movement. I was flying back from New York a couple of days ago and picked up an issue of Fast Company. In this month's issue they have an article about two guys that are part of the slow foods movement that are marketing what they call "heritage turkeys." The upshot of the article is that the turkeys that our grandparents and generations before them ate for Thanksgiving are almost all gone, replaced by the "factory birds" that have been bred into genetic freaks that can barely stand upright based on the amount of breast meat they contained.

They researched these older breeds and began finding them and restocking them. So far they've done a good job at marketing the birds, although they sell at a much higher price than the average butterball.

The upshot of this is that now I'm considering buying one of these turkeys for Thanksgiving if I can find one at a local market. Although not specific to Charlotte, I think this is the type of example that will get consumers interested in participating in something like the slow foods movement. It's not so much a lifestyle choice for some, but a purchasing decision based on several factors. I would love to see a resurgence in legacy vegetable crops and fruit.

If Charlotte had a permanent, centrally located Market, like other cities do, I think this type of thing could get more traction. I know we have the Farmer's Market, but it's out from the central core of the city and isn't anywhere that you can walk to. I'd love to see something built either uptown, in midtown, or in south end that encourages this type of product.

The Fast Company article is here: Heritage Turkeys

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.