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Deveron Projects

The Town Is The Venue
Have you visited the Town Collection? Have you visited the Town Collection?

Jacqueline Donachie

Slow Down

2009

Slow down, you move too fast, you've
got to make the morning last
59th Street Bridge Song, Paul Simon
An exploration of what a car-free town would look like through a festival of all things slow

Jacqueline Donachie came to Huntly from Glasgow with her husband Roderick Buchanan and sons Archie, Duncan and James in the summer of 2009.

Working with the theme of transport in a small-town, Jacqueline started this project by studying twentieth century planning strategies, such as the suggestion of a car-free city. She contrasted that with the planning reality that turned many town squares into car parks. It is now acknowledged that many of these places, formerly used for gathering, are now unsightly, antisocial, and unsafe places for both visitors and locals alike. How would life change in our market towns if car access was limited and central areas given over to bicycle lanes, parks and other social spaces? What would our towns look like without cars and what effect would cycling and walking have on our daily lives?

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Thinking of places further afield that are successful examples of car-free towns (e.g., Hallstatt in Austria or Vauban in Germany), Jacqueline decided she would try to turn Huntly into a temporary car-free zone. She began with a broad community consultation that allowed the public to voice their opinions on the issue of limiting car use. The project then developed around the closure of the central town square, as part of a wider three-day festival. Slow Down, brought together the local community, to celebrate and promote slow, environmentally sustainable activities.

During the process, Jacqueline engaged with local businesses, schools and many community groups to discuss how Huntly might develop a more sustainable approach to transport. In the run-up to the festival, the programme included a bike amnesty (now used for a town bike scheme), cycle fixing workshops, and cycling workshops for novices and the local police force. This was all done in collaboration with AutoSpares, a car accessory shop that has since diversified with the provision of cycle materials and services. During the residency, Jacqueline encouraged as many people as possible to get on their bikes and cycle around their town, culminating in a giant cycle parade where over two hundred townsfolk set off with a colourful chalk-dispensing device attached to their bikes. The project became a six-kilometre drawing that used the town as the canvas, leaving a temporary cycle path marked out by a ribbon of colour on the roads. All was washed away by the rain the next day!

The festival featured all things slow: snail races, slow cycle competitions, Tai Chi, Herbal Walks as well as a panel discussion on car-free towns. Speakers included Jacqueline Donachie, Dr Griet Scheldeman (Associate Professor, University of Lancashire), Peter Brandauer (Mayor of Werfenweng, Austria), Philip McKay (Transportation Strategy Manager, Aberdeenshire Council), Claude Jallit (Huntly Business Association) and Douglas Ritchie (Cittaslow UK).

Further reading The Art of Slow Sociality by Jo Vergunst and Anna Vermeheren.

     

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