Cittaslow International Assembly Netherlands 2014.

Cittaslow International Assembly Netherlands 2014.

This year’s international assembly was hosted by 3 Cittaslow municipalities in southern Netherlands. Australia had 8 representative present with all 3 Cittaslow Australia towns in attendance.

 

Large delegations from China, South Korea and Poland were present along with representatives from a diverse range of countries from Iceland and Finland to Portugal, Canada, Finland, France, Turkey and Italy.12 new towns were admitted and the membership is now over 200. A number of towns internationally are preparing applications, including one from Australia.

 

The program included speakers combined with field trips. Some common messages emerged from the speakers, Never waste a good crisis, from crisis comes opportunity was a consistent theme from speakers including the Kings Commissioner to Philosopher and Economist. Also the message that business and government should be people focussed, if you grow health, then wealth follows.

 

Municipalities from a number of countries spoke about how they hold Cittaslow Principals as central to their decision making. One Alderman from the Netherlands said if a proposal comes to council without mention of Cittaslow principles it is returned.

 

Field trips for us included a 200 hive bee farm for pollination Europe wide, a dry hydroponic lettuce farm and an innovative diary with robots milking cows. We were interested to hear that Cittaslow had been an important factor in each farm receiving development grants.

 

For many delegates the highlight was hearing Dr Gunter Pauli a Belgium economist speak about the Blue Economy. The Blue Economy has 100 plus working examples of highly profitable innovations that have generated 1000s of jobs across the world. The Blue Economy invites you to think in very different ways. It challenges the current economic models and encourages you to be smart, ambitious and creative with what we already have. ”Let us not demand more of the earth but do more with what the earth already provides", Pauli invites us to change the rules of the game to aim for a community that happy and healthy with what we did not know  we had.

One example that resonated for me was a project in South Africa.

A citrus farm was no longer able to be competitive.They consulted a large international company that recommended automating and cutting the staff by half. However this farm was owned by a workers co-operative and so another way was sought from The Blue Economy.

Start with what you have.. oranges and a large luxury eco lodge near by’

  1. Qrange juice sold to the lodge and open market

  2. Orange peel steamed to remove the natural cleaning agent. Also sold on open market
    # Laundry and cleaning service made available to lodge using bio degradable cleaning products

  3. Waste peel from the extraction combined with reused water to grow mushrooms

  4. Mushrooms sold and excess fed to pigs

  5. Pigs another marketable item

  6. Pig waste feed bio digester  to produce compost for the trees

Result… numerous income streams staff number doubled.

This example had me wondering what we in Murrindindi  have that we are overlooking. Fish farms came to mind.

 

For me this idea sits with my reflections on attending the Regional living Expo. The 3 consistent questions I encountered were. Can I find work if I move to Murrindindi? Is there reliable public transport? Is there reliable internet connections? It is obvious that it is hard to compete with many other regional areas. I drove home from the expo wondering what Murrindindi had that no one else had.

 

What are we overlooking? The Cittaslow Assembly has offered me a new way of thinking ,maybe it is possible to discover new ways here in our place.

 

You will be aware that Goolwa hosts the assembly in 2016 a huge task .They spoke at this assembly about Australia and invited those present to begin planning to attend. This gave us the opportunity to also invite those attending to include Murrindindi in their travel plans.

 

Yea hosts the next Australasian AGM gathering and plans are progressing for this event.

Adele Anderson

Cittaslow Yea and Mirrindindi