Tag Archives: Slow Movement

Slow News: The Slow Reading Movement

A University of New Hampshire English professor, a Canadian technology expert, and an Executive Editor at the Harvard University Press are all making the case for slowing down the act of reading, something people are doing more frequently in skims, quick gulps and hyper-linked transgressions.

The professor, Thomas Newkirk, encourages elementary through college students to utilize such techniques as memorizing and reading out loud to allow them to slow down and “taste” the words. John Miedema, a technology specialist at IBM in Ottawa, Ontario, whose book Slow Reading explores the movement, notes that slow reading can foster a closer connection between readers and their information.

Lindsay Waters, Executive Humanities Editor at Harvard University Press has called for no less than a “revolution in reading.” She wrote:

Instead of rushing by works so fast that we don’t even muss up our hair, we should tarry, attend to the sensuousness of reading, allow ourselves to enter the experience of words.

This all sounds right to me. Reading for pleasure involves true and deep immersion in the world of a book, and, for many of us, that requires slowing down. We may need to retrain ourselves and our children to go slowly, savor, and get lost in the written word once in a while.

Read more (slowly) about Slow Reading in this overview. ADDED: Slow Reading, in Depth, with quotes from Tracy Seeley, who blogs about the Slow Movement.

Slow Parenting Gaining Steam: It’s About Time

As people, especially parents, become busier than ever — perhaps driven by increasing economic and social pressures — we’re hearing about the counter movement of “Slow” more than ever, too.

ABC News recently ran a piece on Slow Parenting, which featured, among others, the wonderful Slow Family Living folks, who I have featured on my blog.

Most children are over-scheduled — psychologists, teachers and parents in the piece agreed. And that’s resulting in a generation of stressed-out kids, and parents. Said Bernadette Noll, Slow Family Living co-founder:

I think there’s the feeling of being frazzled. Kind of high anxiety on both the parents’ part and the kids’ part.

Slow Family Living co-founder and parenting coach Carrie Contey, and others in the piece, advocate clearing the schedules, adding more free time and play time, and letting go of the notion that, as parents, we have to be perfect.

Perfectionism truly can be the enemy of freedom and play. Writer Anne Lamott addresses this in a wonderful, funny and wise piece that appears in Sunset magazine.

We all hunger for creative expression in some form, Anne Lamott writes:

Creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

The trick, though, she notes, is making the time to have this in our lives.

That’s really what’s been at the heart of the Slow Movement for me and many others — finding the time, making the time, to connect with family and friends and that part of ourselves that yearns for beauty, peace and community, in whatever form it takes for us personally. We only get 24 hours each day. Deciding what we really want and then what to let go of is a huge step off the treadmill and onto a different path for many of us.

The great news is that more individuals and even groups are embracing this philosophy. No-Homework policies are popping up in school districts. The documentary film Race to Nowhere, which stemmed from director Vicki Abeles’ own parenting experiences, may be behind some of this. The film, which has been playing to sold-out audiences of parents and others across America, attempts to illuminate “the unintended consequences of the achievement-obsessed way of life that permeates American education and culture.”

There is a Race to Nowhere Facebook page, where people are sharing ideas. Slow Parenting is gaining steam, and, in more ways than one, it’s about time.

I hope that this blog will continue to provide inspiration about slowing down with your family; appreciating beauty, nature, and seasons; and fun things to do with all that new-found free time. 🙂 My Slow Family Resources page highlights lots of other great people, resources and ideas.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

12 Days of Green Holiday Gifts: Books for Adults

The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir, by Katrina Kenison, is a refreshingly honest book in which Kenison re-counts finding herself, at roughly middle age, as her children grow older and gain independence, and the author’s family transitions from an urban to a more rural, and slower, lifestyle. The book’s intimate (but not overly revealing) anecdotes and observations unfold in a way that creates the feeling that one is reading letters from a good friend.

Liza Dalby’s East Wind Melts the Ice: A Memoir Through the Seasons is an extremely special book that I find myself dipping into throughout the year. Dalby, who has spent a great deal of time in Japan and is the author of Geisha and other books, as well as a passionate gardener, weaves together observations about various topics — gardening and the natural world, poetry, eastern and western cultures, gender identity, life with small children — and she does so by structuring the book according to the 72 seasonal units of the ancient Chinese almanac. Each piece is beautiful in itself and delightful to read, as well as often quite insightful, funny or deep. Perhaps, as with the Kenison book, the best memoirs (and this is one, although it’s so quirky and brightly observed that “memoir” doesn’t quite do it justice) make you yearn to be the author’s friend or over-the-fence neighbor, or at least sit down for some tea.

Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann, stands out among this year’s crop of farm-to-table cookbooks. This is a stunningly photographed book that focuses on eating locally and in tune with the seasons. The recipes feel as fresh as the food pictured. Crump is a Canadian Slow Food pioneer and chef, and Schormann is a pastry chef, and the resulting book is enriched with their experiences in restaurants and in organic farming.

Every project in Betz White and John Gruen’s Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made With Repurposed and Organic Materials is adorable, colorful, and fun, and contains simple step-by-step instructions that a novice fabric crafter can follow. Best is the inspiration that comes from seeing all these ideas for repurposing and recreating with materials you may already have on hand or could easily locate. The book also contains a very thorough resource list. It’s a guaranteed winner for someone who’s interested in fabric crafting, especially one on the hunt for easy, do-able ideas.

You could do no wrong with any title by Rachel Carson, the pioneering environmental writer whose work managed to infuse the modern environmental movement, as well as educate and inspire wonder about all aspects of the natural world.  Her 1951 classic, The Sea Around Us, is a fine place to introduce a reader to Carson, or to simply experience her lustrous prose as she describes the awe-inspiring, continually mysterious world of the oceans, their history, their habitat, and the special place where water and land meet. The new edition contains added material by marine biologists about the deterioration of the oceans and their life, as well as some prescriptive ideas for its greater care.

My criteria for a green holiday gift? Items meet all or most of the following: Promotes nature play or care of the earth, Uses all or mostly natural ingredients, Fosters hours of open-ended creative play,  Doesn’t use extraneous plastic or other wrapping, Doesn’t break the bank to buy it.

Huffington Post’s First Book Club Pick: In Praise of Slowness

Ariana Huffington, publisher of the impressive Huffington Post online news source, has announced the first book for her new book club: Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed.

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I initially wrote about this very important book when I was creating my blog. Written in 2004, it has taken an even speedier world and a new level of introspection — perhaps spurred by the soured economy, the dwindling of natural resources — for some of us to catch on to Honore’s terrific disease-and-prescription work. I wrote about my own experiences reading the book and beginning to seek a balanced family and community life, and about the rise of the entire Slow Movement, from Slow Food to Slow Cities. My growing resource page reflects the many people and groups attempting to slow life down to a moderate and meaningful speed.

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I recommend taking a look at Carl Honore’s own writing about In Praise of Slowness. You also won’t want to miss this terrific newer piece from Honore about the Slow Movement today and his response to having his book chosen for the HuffPo Book Club.

Ariana Huffington nails why In Praise of Slowness is so vital. She writes:

One of the things I especially love about In Praise of Slowness is Honore’s tone throughout. Far from a lifestyle guru who’s preaching his enlightenment from on high, Honore himself is a pilgrim, trying to learn how to slow down and enjoy the journey.

She also notes that Honore is no extremist Luddite. He, in fact, seeks a middle ground, writing:

I love speed. Going fast can be fun, liberating and productive. The problem is that our hunger for speed, for cramming more and more into less and less time, has gone too far.

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Huffington writes movingly about her own conversion to relative slowness and mindfulness. She also gets macro, and I love the parallels she draws between the cults of capitalism and of speed — what is lost in the process when greed overtakes peoples desires to behave humanely, and what can be gained in our economy, as well as our culture, from a general slowing. To that point Honore wrote (in 2004!):

Modern capitalism generates extraordinary wealth, but at the cost of devouring natural resources faster than Mother Nature can replace them. Capitalism is getting too fast even for its own good, as the pressure to finish first leaves too little time for quality control.

Honore calls this phenomenon “turbo capitalism,” in which people exist “to serve the economy, rather than the other way around.”

I think the choice of book for the HuffPo Book Club will bring these thoughts into greater prominence. I hope a lot of you will participate in the ongoing Slow dialog — here and elsewhere — and that some of the book’s ideas will enrich your own fulfilling lives.

Slow News Day: An End to Overparenting?

We’ve seen elementary schools that appeared to have more moms in the halls than children, and we’ve heard tales of parents attempting to sit in on their offspring’s interviews for law school.

Of course, parenting swings “like a pendulum do,” and we may have arrived once again at — or at least be on the road to — a slightly relaxed, somewhat self-deprecating mode that I call “Good Enough” parenting. If this is remotely true, it seems healthy to me.

Lisa Belkin, writing in the New York Times Magazine last weekend, cited the first wave of the change as one during which the sins of the parent are confessed, and the second wave as the action-oriented (or inaction, as the case may be) Slow Movement. In her piece, “Let the Kid Be”, she quotes Carl Honore, among others, and wonders if the same anxieties that have been at the root of other parenting trends are at work here.

That could be — Parenting is surely not without anxieties. But it seems that a true embrace of the Slow would at least add a little perspective, which in the process could increase joy, decrease fear, and promote healthy, versus hovering, involvement in our kids’ lives. Then, perhaps, some of the helicopters would, at long last, find themselves back on the ground.

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Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman