Sonoma, California Named First Cittaslow City In United States
On November 28, 2009, Cittaslow International named Sonoma Valley the first designated Cittaslow in the United States. The announcement was made by Cittaslow International’s President Gian Luca Marconi in Abbiategrasso, Italy, near Orvieto. Cittaslow, meaning "slow city," embodies the ideas of the international Slow Food organization, and extends its philosophy to a focus on quality of life issues and thoughtful attention to economy, lifestyle, and sustainable methods. Sonoma Valley joins the Cittaslow International Network of 129 towns in 29 nations around the world accredited since 1999. Sonoma is number 128, and Izmir, Turkey is number 129. Cittaslow International’s Secretary General Pier Giorgio Olivieti was also present with other dignitaries at the ceremony.
The requirements for Cittaslow designation are rigorous, and application is by invitation from the international headquarters. Prospective Cittaslow members have populations of less than 50,000 and are evaluated in six topic groupings and 54 areas of excellence. These include sustainable agricultural practices, land use and infrastructure, environmental policy, support for local food cultivation and preparation, conservation of traditional artisan products, available hospitality programs, historic preservation, and educational programs for all ages. Also necessary for membership is local involvement participation of the City Council and the local Slow Food chapter.
“Sonoma Valley is the perfect community to become the first Cittaslow in the United States. We are committed to the "slow" philosophy and goals for the long term,” stated Virginia Hubbell, longtime Sonoma resident who coordinated the massive effort to create and submit Sonoma’s stringent application requirements for Cittaslow membership. “We are an excellent example of Cittaslow's emphasis on connecting members of the community for local action following shared vision, and for preserving our town's quality of life and culture. We look forward to the Cittaslow International delegation visit to Sonoma in January."
A popular North Bay wine country town located 38 miles north of San Francisco, CA, Sonoma is a unique blend of organic smallholdings, small and large vineyards, family wineries, retail stores, and high-tech communications. It is a popular destination city, attracting nearby and overseas visitors. Its historic town square offers a weekly farmer's market with live jazz seven months of the year, and picnicking and play areas for all ages year ‘round. With its nearly perfect climate, progressive point of view, growth limits, viticulture, and a robust arts community, Sonoma Valley retains its village personality and pastoral roots while integrating new technology into its infrastructure.
Ken Brown, mayor of the City of Sonoma, said, “It is a wonderful honor for Sonoma Valley to be invited to participate, and to be named first American Cittaslow. We’re used to being first. The City of Sonoma was the first to raise the Bear Flag for the Republic of California before it was a member of the Union. Sonoma takes this honor seriously, and we’re proud to further
Cittaslow’s philosophy and goals as we move forward.”
Sonoma Valley residents include descendants of Native American, Mexican, Italian, French, and German settlers as well as newer generations from Portugal, Tibet, Finland, Nepal, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, Israel, Thailand, Russia, and many South and Central American countries, as well as every area of the United States. It has notable dairy, beef, and cheesemaking businesses as well as thriving olive farms and olive oil production, lavender fields and nut groves, with a number of nationally known cultural, agricultural and arts festivals throughout the year.
City of Sonoma