Slow is Not a Four Letter Word

Carl Honoré was the keynote speaker last night, "In Praise of Slow".  Speed yoga, drive-through funerals, hyper-parenting, and the one-minute bedtime story should give us all a wake up call  - it's time to slow down.  Slow is about doing things at the right speed, and about quality over quantity.

But he says there are signs that change is coming. The slow food movement and the renaissance of farmers' markets, and slow cities, where quality of life, public art and recreation are given top priority are becoming more common Some workplaces are slowing things down by shortening work hours, encouraging staff to change the pace of work throughout the day, and by taking more control of technology (check your email less often!).

Recreation is not a frill or a luxury, and in a tough economy we all need recreation more than ever. So here are a few of Carl's suggestions for how the recreation profession can contribute to the movement:

Reboot the relationship with nature. In England, outdoor preschool programs are helping toddlers to be creative, healthier and more independent. Community gardens are providing opportunities for people to connect with nature and improve nutrition.

Dial down the pressure on kids - the "Ready, Set, Slow" initiative sees whole communities canceling homework and extracurricular activities for a day, so everyone can enjoy free, unstructured time. Youth sports can put more emphasis on play and less on competition.
 More challenging playgrounds that are not so focused on safety will be more fun for kids.

Carl challenged the delegates over the course of the summit to think about:

  • how to measure a healthy society based on criteria and to make sure recreation is part of what's being measured. (He cited the new Canadian Index of Wellbeing as a good example):
  • how to bring recreation into the core of urban planning;
  • collaborating with different disciplines;
  • being more open to communities and bringing the people who will live with the solutions into the conversations at the beginning;
  • changing the language of recreation to express its deeper meanings. That might include leisure counselors in schools alongside the career counselors or having leisure literacy as part of the curriculum.

Lots of food for thought and I've only scratched the surface!