About Cittaslow Sebastopol
Cittaslow Sebastopol’s Mission and Vision
In a nutshell, the mission of Cittaslow Sebastopol is to keep Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic. Stated more specifically:
Cittaslow Sebastopol preserves our unique town character by collaborating with individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to create activities and programs that
- Support locally made products and agriculture
- Celebrate our local culture and history
- Welcome visitors and embrace neighbors
- Integrate technologies for improved well-being
- Protect the health of the environment
- Develop community-friendly infrastructure
Cittaslow Sebastopol draws upon the resources of its national and international network of “slow cities.” Together, we work to encourage a balanced, human-paced lifestyle and to maintain a vibrant community that is environmentally, socially, and economically connected, healthy, and resilient.
Benefits to Sebastopol
As a Cittaslow city, Sebastopol has access to many resources and opportunities, including
- Economic Benefits
- Networking Benefits
- Social Benefits
Economic Benefits: The Cittaslow movement is relatively new in the United States, but quite established in other countries. (Korea, for instance, has 12 Cittaslow cities; Italy has over 30). People involved in the “Slow” movement often wish to visit green, artistic Cittaslow towns when they travel.
Cittaslow Sebastopol is collaborating with other Sebastopol organizations (e.g., the Sebastopol Visitor Center, the Sebastopol Downtown Association and Farm Trails) to help position Sebastopol as an eco-tourist, or “slow travel” destination.
To attract attention to our city, Sebastopol has a webpage on the international Cittaslow website. We regularly post about activities that make Sebastopol special, such as the Sebastopol Documentary Festival or our planned educational garden at City Hall with landscaping indicative of significant highlights in our cultural history:
- the Pomo Indians,
- the pioneers,
- local botanist Luther Burbank, and
- our current emphasis on native and water-wise permaculture.
Residents and businesses demonstrate their pride in our slow city by displaying the “Sebastopol is Cittaslow” window cling. Plus Cittaslow Sebastopol is working on brochures and other materials to guide visitors to the many green and artistic activities in our town.
Networking Benefits: Cittaslow Sebastopol provides the opportunity to network with other Cittaslow towns for support and mutual problem-solving as we all strive to preserve our local flavor and quality of life. For instance, in March 2013 the national organization, Cittaslow USA, held its annual meeting in Sebastopol where all the cities gathered to share concerns and successes. Cittaslow Cowichan Bay was even able to participate via video interview from British Columbia, Canada.
As part of its collaborative model, Cittaslow Sebastopol joined forces with Slow Food Russian River and received a grant to further the efforts of the Save the Gravenstein Project. Together we have created marketing materials to support the local apple farmers by helping local grocers promote the sales of apples. We are also preparing materials for elementary school lessons on biodiversity and Sebastopol’s apple heritage, including an apple pressing demonstration with Gravenstein apple juice made on the spot.
Social Benefits: Keeping Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic is a value that is shared across many in the political spectrum. The elegant simplicity of the 6 Cittaslow priorities allow the many facets of the Sebastopol community to come together in this common ground and work on projects that emphasize our unique spirit.
As an example, Cittaslow Sebastopol was active in assisting the city Planning Commission with the eight community meetings held in January of 2013 as preparation for the Sebastopol General Plan update. Cittaslow Sebastopol coordinated publicity for the events and lent community research expertise. Over 370 ideas were generated from these meetings, with identification of top priority categories such as:
- Promotion of Sebastopol as an eco-tourist destination
- Preserving and promoting open space and parks
- Refining civic processes and priorities (e.g., "zero homeless; zero hunger")
- Expanding pedestrian and bicycle initiatives
- Further development and support of downtown businesses
Cittaslow Sebastopol Structure
Sebastopol received its "Slow City" designation as a result of then-Mayor Sarah Gurney working with the City Manager to complete a 60-item questionnaire regarding Sebastopol's activities in the 6 priorities:
- Support local products and agriculture
- Celebrate local culture and history
- Welcome visitors and embrace neighbors
- Protect the natural environment
- Integrate technology for improved well-being
- Develop community-friendly infrastructure
Sebastopol's existing orientation around Local Flavor Global Vision, resulted in a very high rating at the international level. In fact, Sebastopol received the highest score of any US applicant city to date. Cittaslow Sebastopol is an ad hoc committee of the City. It functions as a 501c3 organization under the umbrella of the fiscal sponsor of the national Cittaslow organization: Inquiring Systems, Inc. As such, it is able to receive donations which are fully tax deductible. (See our donor page to learn more.)
The Cittaslow designation belongs to the City of Sebastopol, but the Steering Committee of Cittaslow Sebastopol is tasked with leveraging the designation and assuring that Sebastopol continues to abide by and improve its participation with the 6 priorities.
Sebastopol's Steering Committee is currently comprised of 10 members of the community. Steering Committee members selected once a year, usually in April, and are requested to contribute at least 3 hours a week and make an 18 month commitment to serve in this role.
Cittaslow Sebastopol is a volunteer effort. There are no employees and no paid positions. Cittaslow Sebastopol functions as a virtual organization. It has no brick and mortar office, but does make ample use of email, Google Docs, Facebook, conference calls and other technologies designed to ease communications and bring people together while reducing the use of gas, paper and waste.
Cittaslow Sebastopol is an educational organization. It specifically does not endorse political candidates or ballot measures and it refrains from engaging in polarizing rhetoric.
Currently there are two officers of the Steering Committee: Clare Najarian and Tasha Beauchamp, both of whom serve as the Co-Chairs.
Ways to Participate
There are many ways to get involved and to show your support for Sebastopol's Slow City philosophy:
- Like us on Facebook. Part of our function is to be an educational source of information for the community about activities and events pertaining to the 6 priorities. Stay up to date by LIKING us on Facebook. Feel free to send us information about events that you think fit the priorities and would be of interest. Please include your name, email address and a web address about the project or activity. Promotion of products and services for personal gain is discouraged. This is about self-less support of the community at large.
- Sign up for email updates. We rarely send out emails, but if there is an important event (e.g., the community meetings) or we are putting on something special, we will let you know about it. You can tell us which of the 6 priorities are most of interest to you and we will be sure to keep you informed of events in those areas.
- Donate. We do our very best to keep expenses low: no office, no paid positions, no equipment. But there simply are things like insurance, booth fees, and other expenses that go along with running an educational community endeavor. We gladly accept donations of any amount. We are currently building a wonderful support network of individuals and organizations who are stepping forward to become a Founding Donor. Have your name permanently associated as a community innovator who early on saw the promise of being a slow city. For more information on becoming a Founding Donor, contact us at email@example.com.
- Become a Cittaslow Volunteer. If you like what we are doing, or have an idea for a project, contact us and find out how to participate. Volunteers can work as much or as little as they wish. One person, for instance, volunteers her graphics skills. Another works on a specific project and when that is finished, she may or may not continue with the group. Would you like to sit at our booth at the Gravenstein Fair? Are you interested in teaching school children about our apple heritage? If something sparks your interest, get in touch!
- Join the Steering Committee. To join the Steering Committee, one must work, live, own a business or own property in Sebastopol, or consider Sebastopol one's primary community. In their role on the Steering Committee, members are expected to comport themselves as representatives of the city and to embody a positive and inclusive philosophy that brings the community together around shared values. The process involves an application and an interview. New Steering Committee members are taken in about once a year. Let us know if you would like to be notified the next time there are openings.
If you have questions, or an idea for a way to participate, contact Cittaslow Sebastopol Steering Committee via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Steering Committee
Tasha Beauchamp - Co-Chair
Sarah Glade Gurney - Alternate City Liaison
Robert Jacob - City Liaison
Clare Najarian - Co-Chair
Karla Samples Eastham
Richard von Sternberg