Saturday, May 25, 2013

Slow down, you move too fast

click photo to enlarge
It is said that the genesis of the Slow Movement was the journalist, Carlo Petrini's protest against the opening of a McDonald's café (they are not restaurants whatever the company may think) near the Spanish Steps, Rome, in 1986. I recall reading about this in the press at the time. What I didn't know is that it led to the Slow Food Movement that sought to promote the virtues of locally-sourced produce, cooked traditionally and eaten socially, over the ubiquitous fast-food chains with their industrialised, homogenised products. Out of the central belief that people and societies need to slow down and give more time to preparing and eating better food came the the idea that the application of "slowness" to other areas of life would be very beneficial. Guttorm Fløistad wrote a useful summation of the idea underpinning Slow: "The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal."

Over the years I became aware of the Slow Movement and how it was being applied to areas such as travel, design, fashion and architecture. It influenced me in my decision to forgo the acquisition of a smartphone and is part of the reason that I don't "do" social media. However, more recently it was the publicity in 2008 surrounding the publication of Carl Honoré's book, "Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture Of Hyper-Parenting", that brought Slow to the forefront of my mind. I recognised, through my involvement in education, the way in which many children were being shepherded, directed and cosseted virtually every waking hour, how they had little time that they organised and directed for themselves, and how parents felt failures if they didn't provide a wide range of weekend and after-school activities for their offspring. This kind of parenting remains all too common today with the result that young children, who should be exploring and enjoying what the world offers at their own pace, are subjected to the intense lifestyle and pressures that adults suffer.

I don't know where the adult and child in the photograph were going or what they were doing but they appeared to be in a hurry. Perhaps they had a bus to catch. However, the way they were purposefully striding out, eyes seemingly set on some future event, caused me to reflect on the Slow Movement and how we would all benefit if its precepts were more widely adopted.

Incidentally the stone-built Georgian houses in this corner of Stamford, Lincolnshire, have stood up well to what the past couple of hundred years have thrown at them. They were built on sound principles with an eye to the future and will doubtless grace the town for a few more centuries yet.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 25.9mm (70mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On