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Slow Living is the choice to live consciously with the goal of enhancing personal, community and environmental well being. Slow Living recognizes the role that time plays in shaping the quality of our lives. By slowing down we make time to savor our experiences and to connect more fully with others. The process of slowing down involves simplifying our lives and minimizing distractions so that we have more time and more energy to focus on what is meaningful and fulfilling. By consciously choosing to do less, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental impacts of our actions.
Authors Beth Meredith and Eric Storm summarize Slow Living as follows:
Slow Living means structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to "voluntary simplicity" and "downshifting," it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life. … Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well-being in the fullest sense of the word.
Jason Drebitko, a U.S based business development consultant and former CEO of fine furniture, pottery and home accessory maker, ShackletonThomas, has defined Slow Living as both a lifestyle and consumer behavior philosophy. Drebitko notes that Slow Living from the perspective of consumer behavior, translates across product categories into purchasing decisions based on a common set of brand attributes/values emphasizing quality rather than quantity, authenticity, environmental and social responsibility.
Slow Living has its origins in the Slow Movement, which began in Italy with the concept of Slow Food (in contrast to fast food). This approach of taking the time required to fully engage with an activity and to savor life, nature, people, and place, has expanded to many other areas of life. When applied to one’s whole way of being, it becomes Slow Living.
Slow Living borrows from the earlier and related lifestyle approaches including Voluntary Simplicity and Simple Living which emphasize consuming less and being more self-sufficient. However, Slow Living emphasizes building relationships with local producers over self-sufficiency, and puts a greater value on enjoying life and psychological well-being. While Slow Living shares Downshifting’s more moderate approach to personal change, the movement is not urban-focused or limited to a particular age group, and it looks beyond finances and consumption to all areas of life.
Personal motivations for these movements are varied and can include spirituality, health, having more quality time for family and friends, living lightly on the earth, socio-political goals, stress reduction, and personal taste.
Within the growing global Slow Movement, many of the sub-movements focus on particular areas of life including:
- Slow Food
- Slow Money
- Cittaslow, or Slow Cities
- Slow Design
- Slow Democracy
- Slow Media
- Slow Parenting
- Slow Sex
- Slow Fashion/ Slow Clothing
- Slow Gardening
- Slow Art
- Slow Travel
- Slow Programming
- Slow Studying
- Slow Reading
Beyond these specific movements, Slow Living finds ways to bring this “slow philosophy” to all aspects of life.
Qualities of Slow Living include:
- Holistic – taking into account as many areas of life as possible, including the personal as well as the social, and both short and long term consequences
- Elegant Sufficiency – having enough for fulfillment, while avoiding waste and excess, valuing quality over quantity.
- Savoring – taking the time and directing awareness to fully engage with your experiences in ways that are enjoyable and life enhancing.
- Distinctive and Tailored – valuing the unique characteristics of each place, person and moment, and fostering this uniqueness in your own life.
- Environmentally Sustainable – being conscious of the environmental impacts of your choices and actions and seeking to reduce harm and enhance restoration.
Slow Living Consumer Behavior Philosophy and Lifestyle Brand
Slow Living is a trademark of a lifestyle company by the same name started in 2010 by business development consultant and former CEO of ShackletonThomas, Jason Drebitko. Drebitko defines Slow Living as a lifestyle and consumer behavior philosophy that translates across categories into purchasing decisions based on a common set of characteristics. He notes that products and experiences that fit the Slow Living philosophy and brand have characteristics that include: the highest quality construction and materials; low volume and often individual production; traditional processes and methods involving high levels of skill and substantial hand work; inherent beauty; vernacular reverence; attention to detail; individuality rather than homogeneity, and overall authenticity.
U.S. Slow Living Summit, Brattleboro, Vt.
The first U.S.-based slow living conference, the Slow Living Summit was held in Brattleboro, Vermont June 1–3, 2011. The third annual Slow Living Summit is scheduled for June 5-7, 2013. It was organized by Strolling of the Heifers, a Brattleboro-based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting family farms by connecting people with healthy local foods. The gathering annually draws more than 400 people from across the United States, with keynote speakers working in the movement towards local and regional sustainability in New England and beyond. Speakers have included author and activist Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org), Google Inc. community-affairs director Matt Dunne, Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm co-founder, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. The Summit was developed to explore of ways to build healthy, thriving local economies while encouraging, mentoring and supporting a new generation of activists, entrepreneurs and engaged citizens. By convening around issues of local and regional sustainability and resilience, the summit seeks to connect farmers and other food producers, business and business groups concerned for social responsibility, sustainability-oriented nonprofits, socially responsible entrepreneurs and investors, governmental entities and educational institutions and programs at all levels. The organizers defined "Slow Living" as follows:
The concept of Slow Living is built on the metaphor of “slow,” as used by other visionary organizations like Slow Food and Slow Money. “Slow” encompasses several layers of meaning that go beyond simply “sustainable.” Slow is the opposite of “fast” — fast food, fast money, fast living — and all of the negative consequences “fast” has had for the environment and for the health of people and societies. “Slow” embodies cooperation, respect, sustainability, gratitude and resilience. But “Living” is also a key word in our name and our vision. “Living” should be mindful and purposeful, but also celebratory and filled with beauty, joy and gratitude. Defining what is meant by living well, or by a life well lived, is as relevant today as it was to the ancients — and as difficult. Combining these words, “Slow Living” is a more reflective approach to answering how we live, work and play as human beings on a fragile Earth. When we Live Slow, we give back and become more strongly connected to the Earth, to our communities, to our neighbors and to ourselves. A Slow Life is one that seeks the right balance between spirituality, sensuality, introspection and community. A Slow Life recognizes our role as members of our bioregions and of our Earth, taking a nourishing, rather than extractive approach.
- Slow Movement
- Simple Living and Voluntary Simplicity
- Positive Psychology
- The Good Life
- In Praise of Slow
- Mindfulness (psychology)
- Meredith, Beth and Storm, Eric. "Slow Living - Learning to Savor and Fully Engage with Life". Create-The-Good-Life.com. 2009. Retrieved 2011-3-20.
- Drebitko, Jason "Slow Living - Sourcebook for an Authentic Lifestyle". slowlivingtoday.com. 2010. Retrieved 2012-4-25.
- Strolling of the Heifers -- Slow Living Summit