San Francisco's Slow Food Nation and Sunday Streets

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Lucky for me I was able to be in town for Labor Day weekend, and immersed myself in Slow Food Nation as well as San Francisco's Sunday Streets event.

It's so inspiring that wholistic urban sustainability is becoming a reality, and that is making carbon-reduction fun, profitable, innovative and, yes, delicious. 

My family and I took our bikes to the ferry to the sunny city and pedeled around the car-free city streets, with roller skaters, tricyclists, runners, walkers and pogo-stickers.


The Sunday Streets events was the first if its kind for San Francisco. This year Portland, Oregon, and New York City have already done the same, in the mold of Bogota, Columbia's Ciclovia. It was a big hit, stressing physical fitness at different stations along the waterfront with activities for the kids and hula hoops for everyone else. Kudos to Mayor Newsom, the department of parking and traffic that blocked off auto traffic and all the volunteers.  

Our destination was the Victory Garden in front of San Francisco City Hall, the community centerpiece of the Slow Food Nation festival.  Slow Food Nation celebrated local, organic, tasty, fair and humane American food, the largest celebration of its kind, with 60,000 attending the three-day proceedings. 


Besides the gorgeous 1/3-acre victory garden, where children and adults visibily delighted in experiencing a working food plot (200 pounds going to food banks this week alone), we went to a tasting of some of the best food purveyors in the nation Saturday evening.


Some food highlights: a truly white (clear) old vine Fume Blanc from Oregon, Rubicon's 2004 estate red, chocolate from Madgasgar, pickled vegetables, acme bread pizza, wild coffee beans from Eritrea.

I also chatted with many luminaries: Vandana Shiva, who is saving thousands of species of rice from extinction in India; John Knox, co-founder of the Earth Island Institute and Michael Dimock, of the Roots of Change fund, which helped Slow Food organize the event.

Sue Conley co-founder of the Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, CA, told me that higher energy prices have made her legendary cheese business take off even more recently.  

She opined that we are at a watershed moment, when locally produced food starts to lose its "gourmet" connotations and starts to be known as the healthy, high quality way to put our money where our mouths are, which will help local economies while preserving our valuable farm and pastureland from getting paved over forever.


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Nice review. Seattle is also doing Summer Streets I believe. I missed the victory garden but plan to visit it soon while it's still there. I had the same idea of doing this in front of Oakland City Hall but haven't pushed the idea persistently enough. Local food, including eggs and chicken tenders, could become a cottage industry for depressed areas of Oakland, if done right. SlowFood felt like walking around an adult, wine bar version of Great America, without the rollercoasters. Although after a few glasses of wine...

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on September 2, 2008 11:29 AM.

California Green Building Code Update was the previous entry in this blog.

California Climate Change Conference: Latest on AB 32 is the next entry in this blog.

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