Akyaka to become Turkey’s second ‘Cittaslow’ after Seferihisar

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22.1.2015
Akyaka to become Turkey’s second ‘Cittaslow’ after Seferihisar

Southwestern town of Akyaka is set to become the second 'Cittaslow' in Turkey after İzmir's Seferihisar. The process started after the town voted 'yes' in a referendum.
 
Akyaka - CittaslowThe town of Akyaka, located in Ula in the southwestern province of Muğla is set to become a member of the International Cittaslow Association – an association that celebrates a slower pace of life among its member towns.
 
In April, a referendum was held in Akyaka to decide whether or not the town should join the slow cities association. Of the 911 people who participated in the referendum, 811 voted in favor of the proposal while 78 voted against it and 22 votes were declared invalid.
 
Following the referendum, a delegation of 12 people from Seferihisar Municipality Cittaslow Executive Committee, the only representative of International Cittaslow Association in Turkey, and Seferihisar Mayor Tunç Soyer visited Akyaka to hold talks with the Akyaka Municipal Council, the Akyaka City Council and members of the Gökova Culture and Arts Association convened for a meeting.
 
The meeting was convened at the Yücelen Hotel in order to examine what would be required for Akyaka to become Cittaslow city. During the meeting, issues discussed included the architectural configuration of the town, archeological excavations, plans for protection, the education of the region’s children, service quality in tourism, cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, agricultural practices, the production and establishment of markets and efforts to explore the special cuisine unique to the region.
 
Akyaka Mayor, Republican People's Party, or CHP, member Ahmet Çalça said the town has fulfilled requirements to become Turkey’s second Cittaslow member. “Our efforts to become a member of Cittaslow have come to the final stage. Our aim is to see, understand and notice the uniqueness and variations at the same time in areas such as environment, culture, history, tourism and art,” he said.
 
“During the promotion and briefing process, we came together with people from different segments of the society,” he said, adding that the range of community figures the municipality had spoken to included public servants, people in the tourism sector, students, nongovernmental organizations, tradesmen and a number of people who have retired in Akyaka.
 
“As a result of the referendum we held, we received the consent of our people. For membership application, we will go to the Interior Ministry after the decision of the Municipal Council,” he said.
 
Apart from Akyaka, the municipalities and city councils of Aydın’s Yenipazar district, Erzincan’s Kemah district, İzmir’s Alaçatı and Kayseri’s Develi district have also asked Seferihisar Municipality to provide them with information on how to become a slow city.  
 
What is Cittaslow?
 
In English it is “Slow City,” in Italian it is “Cittaslow” and in Turkish it is “Sakin Şehir.” Cittaslow is a network of cities and towns that emerged from the “slow food movement” founded in the city of Greve, Italy in 1999.
 
The member cities of this network are developed as an alternative to the cities where globalization is standardized and humanity and the environment are ignored. The slow city movement emphasizes the important and special qualities of its member cities and encourages the development of strategies to protect the quality of life enjoyed by a slow city’s residents, in harmony with the atmosphere, color, music, nature and historical richness of the given city.
 
During 1980s, the slow food movement started in Italy as a rebellion against fast food, advocating traditional eating styles and local produce and to support the people who produced such foods.
 
Inspired by this, the slow cities movement started in 1999 with the participation of 32 Italian towns and after a while it went international. The International Cittaslow Association is an organization in which small cities and towns, with populations lower than 50,000 people, are accepted as members. 
 
The first slow Turkish city to review others
 
The International Cittaslow Association, based in the Italian town of Chieva, examines small cities all round the world that have applied for membership according to “Slow City” criteria and awards a certificate and a “Snail Flag” to those that qualify. There are 129 slow cities all around the world, mostly located in Europe, Australia and Asia. At the moment, the district of Seferihisar in İzmir is the only slow city in Turkey.
 
The process of becoming a slow city in Turkey begins with the city’s self-evaluation and scoring of itself in accordance with a number of criteria. In order to become a member, the city needs to score higher than 50 percent in these categories. Before the membership application is accepted, the applicant town should be reviewed by Seferihisar Municipality, the Turkey representative of the slow city association.

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