Apr 3, 2017
By Tasha Beauchamp
Cittaslow Sebastopol is opening up for volunteers with an orientation meeting Tuesday, April 25, 6:00 – 7:30 at the Sebastopol City Hall (7120 Bodega Ave.).
When I first heard of the “Slow City” movement, I was enchanted! Four mayors in Italy got together to do for urban planning what Slow Food had done for agriculture: support the local economy, protect the environment, encourage community, and promote creativity. Wow, what’s not to love with that?!? And now there are over 200 slow cities in 30 countries around the world.
This was the era of the Northeast Area Plan and CVS when citizens lined up fairly vehemently in one camp or the other. When I heard that Sebastopol was applying to join this international network, this seemed like a wonderful way to help us remember our common ground. And indeed, becoming a slow city has resulted in many projects that have been supported by a broad range of Sebastopol residents.
Sebastopol was accepted as a Cittaslow (“Citta”—pronounced “chee-TAH”—means “city” in Italian). And in 2012, Cittaslow Sebastopol was designated by the City Council as the City’s non-profit community development partner to assist in keeping Sebastopol “slow.”
What is “slow”? In short, it means keeping Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic. More specifically, there are 6 priorities of a Slow City:
• Support locally made products and agriculture
• Celebrate local culture and history
• Promote connections and collaboration
• Make wise use of technology
• Welcome visitors. Embrace neighbors.
• Protect the environment
You can see we retain our Slow Food roots! And although we are distinct groups, we consider Slow Food Russian River a sister organization. Indeed, they assisted with the City’s 2010 application to become a Cittaslow.
So what has Cittaslow Sebastopol done?
Rainwater Harvesting Workshop. Deep in the drought of 2016, this two-day event taught local residents how to capture the water that falls free from the sky. (Did you know that a 1000 square foot roof yields 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain?) There was a lecture by Daily Acts, and a participation demo which resulted—with the generous donation of Blue Barrel Systems (bluebarrelsystems.com)—in a rainwater harvesting system at Sebastopol’s City Hall to service its low water, indigenous natural history landscaping (ourfrontyard.org/plan).
The Sebastopol Area Time Bank (sebastopoltimebank.org). With the cost of housing as high as it is, local residents are cash-strapped. The City decided it could help citizens conserve their cash by creating a Time Bank. This alternative currency network allows members to get services they need by earning, and spending Time Credits. Members provide services for each other at no monetary cost. For every hour a member does something for another member, they earn 1 Time Credit. When they need services, they call upon members of the network and pay for each hour received with Time Credits. The Sebastopol Area Time Bank opened in October of 2016 and already has more than 100 members. Members not only enjoy the services received but say it has been a great way to meet new people and feel connected in the community. Check the Time Bank website for the next orientation meeting.
Community-sourced Eco-Tourism campaign. Preparations for Sebastopol’s General Plan Update revealed community interest in expanding Sebastopol’s tourist sector. But not in the ordinary way. The thought was to focus on sustainability, retain our local flavor, and move in the direction of eco-tourism. Cittaslow Sebastopol conducted an online survey where more than 400 concerns and ideas were shared and then later voted upon at a Community Forum attended by over 125 residents. From this, Cittaslow Sebastopol conducted another online survey to find out what West County residents were proud of about Sebastopol and where they took visitors. The overwhelming consensus was that Sebastopol was a place to visit because the food is organic, the people are creative, healing arts abound and nature is nearby. With donations of graphics from local photographers and businesses, we created a brochure and ExperienceSebastopol.com (experiencesebastopol.com), a graphic tour of our town. Check it out! And if you have a business and would like to have brochures for your customers, contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sebastopol Ped Line. Did you know Sebastopol is a member of the national Walk-Friendly Communities movement? As part of the City’s Park-Once-And-Walk endeavors, the Ped Line is comprised of four, color-coded, self-guided walking tours to area destinations: The Green Line goes to the Laguna, the Pink Line to Florence Ave. Sculpture Walk, the Blue Line to Ives Park, and the Purple Line connects the Joe Rodota Trailhead with Ives Park. The 2014 pilot study was very successful: 62% of walkers said that the program encouraged them to walk instead of drive. This Spring Cittaslow Sebastopol will be putting sidewalk markers in place to make the Ped Line a permanent feature.
Sound like fun? It is! Cittaslow Sebastopol is a 100% volunteer organization. We get a lot done and have a great time working together to make our town a thriving, resilient, creative, connected and green community.
We are currently looking for: Booth Staffers, Time Bank Assistants, Event Helpers, Facebook Mavens and Word Press Wizards.
If keeping Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic appeals to you, contact email@example.com. Or come to the Volunteer Orientation on Tuesday April 25, 6:00 -7:30 at Sebastopol City Hall, 7120 Bodega Ave.