Today, 4 May, is the final day of Slow Down London – a ten-day festival to get people to slooooow dowwwnnnnn. Personally, I walk fast, talk fast and do stuff fast, but that’s because I love things that are intense – but that is not truly at odds with the premise of Slow Down London, which is a good one:
“Slow Down London is a new project to inspire Londoners to improve their lives by slowing down to do things well, rather than as fast as possible.”
The point is to consciously and deliberately appreciate stuff - all stuff. From our bodies, minds, creativity, each other, life itself, the world around us and establish a deeper appreciation of time itself.
And it got me thinking. ... doing things well requires rigour and thought and that takes time... But political, social and environmental changes happen relatively fast and need practical responses.
So here is a problem that faces me and probably you too: how do we as individuals and a society get a strong balance between this point ‘to slow things down so you can do them well’ and the political point 'philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point, however, is to change it?'*
The arts need to consider this as much as ever before – perhaps more. How can the soft skills and soft power of the arts be shared more widely and do they have practical application? What do the arts do well? What could the arts do better? For example, should visual art be more democratic and what would cultural democracy look like?
It’s not a problem if you missed the Slow Down London festival – because it is a campaign that highlights that London is full of brilliant slow things…
The Slow Down London campaign will hold a festival (24 April – 4 May 2009) offering activities and inspiration, through working with a range of partners. It will give Londoners a chance to explore slow music and arts, to try meditation and yoga, to sample slow food and crafts, to discover 'slow travel' in our own city, to debate ideas about time and pace, and to find our own ways to challenge the cult of speed and to appreciate the world around us. You can view the full event programme here: slow-down-london-events-programme
* I heard this Marx quote again yesterday, when my iPod shuffled to an old version of the BBCs In Our Time (2005) featuring Karl Marx as winning the 'greatest philosopher' vote, here’s the link.