Katoomba becomes a Cittaslow
In order to create villages or towns as authentic cittaslows it is required that they seek the endorsement by the international Cittaslow organisation.
To be endorsed as a Cittaslow, a community of no more than 50,000 inhabitants address a range of criteria. Once endorsed, a Cittaslow continually monitors and improves the designated characteristics of its town and surroundings to extend the quality of life that is 'cittaslow'.
These recognised cittaslows across the world are leading examples of how to sustain wellbeing and viability for the changing future we face. Cittaslow is a framework that initiates means of adapting and continuing life in a more distributed, self-reliant fashion.
KATOOMBA SEEKS ENDORSEMENT
Saturday, 20 January 2007
In an exciting move which will enhance the region's status as a UNESCO World Heritage Area and one of Australia 's top tourist destinations, the City of the Blue Mountains is seeking endorsement as a Cittaslow. Cittaslow (literally 'Slow City', pronounced CHITTA-slow) is an extension of the worldwide Slow Food movement, which the Mountains officially became part of in 2004.
Cittaslow is not just about food. Its aims are much wider, and are based on taking time to identify what is important and special about a region and putting in place strategies to preserve its unique qualities. It brings great benefits for the local economy, the environment, tourism, and local residents' quality of life, and helps to further define the point of difference from other regions.
In a Cittaslow, the community chooses to:
• implement an environmental policy which nurtures the distinctive features of that town or city and its surrounding area and focuses on recycling and recovery
• put in place an infrastructure with an emphasis on environmentally-friendly use of land
• preserve the history of a region, the important buildings and historical locations and make sure they are identified, protected and maintained
• encourage the use of technology that will improve the quality of air and life in the city
• support the production and consumption of organic foodstuffs
• promote use of local produce and products
• protect and promote products that have their roots in tradition and reflect a local way of doing things
• encourage learning about food and where it comes from
• encourage a spirit of genuine hospitality towards guests of the town or city
Graham Kidd, Mayor of Ludlow, the UK 's first Slow City, has said:
"The real benefit of Cittaslow for Ludlow is the way that it provides a 'hook' to hang things on. It is a mindset that encourages us to work with people and organisations towards a common aim: improving our score against a set of Cittaslow goals, nearly all of which aim to improve the quality of life for everyone in our town. It has helped join up thinking' and doing' in the town".
Spokesperson for the Mountains group, Anne Elliott, says: "We see this as a fantastic opportunity to reinvigorate the area - by working with the Mountains community to develop new ideas and projects for the benefit of everyone, particularly young people, local business, and the environment".
In order to become a Cittaslow, much needs to be done in the way of assessing the local community, gaining support from the local government body and other organisations, gathering and compiling of evidence, as well as developing a solid base from which to put in place the initiatives undertaken, if the submission is successful.
The list of criteria to be met was daunting and almost beyond the sum of the parts of those involved. Yet with energy and dreams, the group of dedicated volunteers managed to complete this process in a very short time and to garner the good will of many more from many parts of the region.
Self-assessment is a difficult thing, especially with no benchmark to work against and yet there was sufficient knowledge, skill and aspiration within the working party, especially from the convenor, that the goal was seen as achievable. The boxes in the template were ticked, the scores tallied, certificates and data collected, photos taken and clear plans made.
So, with a total of just over 7kg of docmentation and a DVD, funded by the BMCC, all packaged up safely and sent off to Orvieto, Italy, the waiting commenced.
In the Mountains, the visiting Cittaslow delegation will experience the magnificent natural environment, the diverse cafes and restaurants, artisan bakeries and other small businesses, the vibrant arts community and unique domestic architecture, and will meet some small local producers, all of which are likely to be factors in deciding on the Mountains' eligibility.
INTERNATIONAL CITTASLOW DELEGATION
Delegates from Cittaslow headquarters in Orvieto (Italy) visited the Blue Mountains on 16 March 2007. A full itinerary ensured that they gained a taste of the region's magnificent natural environment, diverse cafes and restaurants, artisan bakeries and other small businesses, vibrant arts community and unique domestic architecture.
The visit by the Italian delegation capped a feverish few months' work by a dedicated Blue Mountains group to gain support from local government and tourism authorities and prepare a massive submission for Italy's Cittaslow HQ emphasising the region's eligibility.
KATOOMBA WINS ENDORSEMENT AS A 'CITTASLOW'
And so the big day arrived.... Did we achieve the goal or will there be more work required? What is the next step if we are accepted?
The visit culminated in the announcement at a Civic Reception at the historic Carrington Hotel. In attendance was the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and other distinguished guests, many of the working party and some partners, as well as the four delegates from Italy.
The luncheon event featured food of the region ranging from Hominy sourdough bread to Bathurst wines, Oberon bio-dynamic lamb, in-season chestnuts from Mount Irvine, cheeses, and gourmet cakes and chocolates. The food was prepared and served by Carrington staff and students from the Blue Mountains Hotel School.
No notice or indication had been given prior to the delegates arriving so the hard working team put on best faces and crossed fingers as we headed towards the pivotal announcement.
All of a sudden, we were being presented with the Certificate and our very own flag to show that, indeed, the City of the Blue Mountains had won endorsement as
CITTASLOW KATOOMBA BLUE MOUNTAINS
Being declared a Cittaslow highlights the region's unique qualities that contribute to an overall quality of life adding to the Blue Mountains' already high status as a UNESCO World Heritage Area and one of Australia's top tourist destinations.
Many programs and groups already exist in the Blue Mountains and elsewhere that actually are 'cittaslow' in nature and spirit, so it may be possible to integrate them in some way under a common banner to enhance their positive impact.
Cittaslow Katoomba Blue Mountains is the first village to be endorsed in NSW.
The aim is to link with as many organisations and businesses in this region as possible to support the region's economy and strengthen its social fabric.