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Maybe the 'Slow Country' isn't all that bad

Experts from manywalks of life tell us thatto be sustainable, wemust live in a dense urban environment.Suburbia must beretrofitted in compact ways.Rural areas preserved.

But small towns and cities arerarely mentioned. In Paul Knoxand Heike Mayer's new book"Small Town Sustainability"the authors argue that "In theUnited States, the fastest-growingplaces in the country overthe past two decades have beentowns between 10,000-50,000inhabitants, which account forjust over 10 percent of the U.S.population."

Beaufort, Bluffton and HiltonHead Island fit in this category.Dense urban living is not foreveryone. Livability, qualityof life, a direct connection tothe outdoors, and a clear localidentity combine to make theLowcountry a great place tolive. Globalization, sprawl, traffic,and development of landthat should be left alone are issueswe must be address.

A movement has begun totake place called Slow City(Cittaslow) where smalltowns, mostly in Europe,decide to protect their localidentity, land, businesses,products and traditional wayof life. To obtain the Cittaslowseal of approval, local leadersmust sign a 55-point manifestocommitting to environmental,anti- globalization ideals.Learn more at www.cittaslowsonomavalley.org/usa.html.

While many cities focus oncreating bigger, faster, newer,shinier and sexier infrastructure,a Cittaslow communityfocuses on quality of life forits neighborhoods, people andenvironment.

Maybe we can grow toembrace our "Slow Country"moniker (which might havebeen coined by a Northernerfrustrated with the pace of lifearound here).

Here are some thingsmost of us love about theLowcountry:

- Beautiful land, trees,marshes, and waterways- Rich cultural and architecturalheritage- Diversity in people - fisherman,Gullahs, vegetablefarmers, Northern transplants,Southern locals, artists, trailerand castle dwellers- Good local restaurants- Art and music scene- Wonderful seasonsWhat could we do to makethe above traits sustainable?- Adopt a planning code thatencourages building where infrastructurealready exists.- Eat, buy and shop locally.- Preserve our past and builda future by designing homesshops, and places to work inways that preserve the environment.- Welcome visitors to joinin enjoying our rich culture,weather and slow lifestyle.Let's start a movement!

Jane Frederick is an architect andinterior designer and principalof Frederick + Frederick Architectsin Beaufort. Contact her atjane@f-farchitects.com.

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