Ever since we released our dedicated #Slow issue back in May 2015, Doncopolitan has been working to encourage slow living and slow livelihoods as a means of social improvement and economic regeneration in Doncaster. The regenerative power of the slow ethos lies in its advocacy of human-scaled businesses, its support for resilient local economies and a commitment to healthier, environmentally friendly ways of living. Doncopolitan believes that the widespread adoption of slow values has the potential to help some of the poorest communities in Doncaster — the communities in which we ourselves live.
As we’ve mentioned before, we believe that our region has everything it needs to become a peri-urban paradise capable of providing a healthy and enjoyable life for everyone who has made Donny their home. We have one of the best micro-climates in the north of England; the Soil Association tell us we have one of the most interesting and diverse soil maps in the country; we still have a highly affordable cost of living relative to the rest of the
UK; we have a diverse skillset in our local communities; our communities still act like communities!; and our residents are necessarily inventive and resilient. It isn’t going to take a change of circumstances to build a braver, brighter, slower Doncaster, just a change of attitudes… and a little collaboration.
An artisanal attitude has already been blossoming over the last few years, with a number of exciting businesses and initiatives leading the way in a local slow food revolution. From Michael Price’s supper club, to The Greenhouse Eatery — newly opened on Wood Street — slow food is well and truly on the menu in Doncaster. And just because it is slow food it doesn’t mean it cannot be fast food too. Devon’s Kitchen is a fast food outlet in Bentley, which serves amazing Jamaican food. What sets Devon’s Kitchen apart from the usual nondescript, grease-dripping, beige pulp you find in too many other fast food outlets, is their amazing fresh flavours, the vibrant colours of the dishes and the quality of their produce. They not only source local produce, they actually grow a lot of the veg themselves on their own allotment.
We have played our own small part in developing the local slow food economy via our Bentley Urban Farm (BUF) sister project. BUF is an upcycled market garden which uses reclaimed materials to create a range of growing projects, each designed to combat food poverty and food deserts. BUF’s SEED & SAV£ project wants to get as many people growing their own food as possible and, as Greenjacker explains on page 32, they even want to pay you to do it. Slow Food UK are also committed to fighting food poverty through a wide range of initiatives, both at home and abroad. One of their most exciting campaigns is 10,000 Gardens for Africa, where they are providing land for communities in Africa to grow good, sustainable food, suitable for the areas where they live.
Slow living isn’t just about food though. Slow principles can be applied to all aspects of life. Slow Fashion is already well established. Similar to slow food, slow fashion is artisanal, high quality and environmentally friendly. The emphasis is placed on style rather than fashion. Quality may cost more initially, but a smaller wardrobe made up of classic, well-made pieces is far more cost effective than chasing the latest fad. We mentioned Richard Smith, now proprietor of The Shoe Room in Priory Walk, in our original slow issue. The high quality, handmade shoes he sells may cost more initially, but unlike the mass produced fashion items sold elsewhere, they can be repaired and can last a lifetime if treated correctly. You may pay less as a slave to fast fashion, but you will pay far more often and the planet ends up paying for the throwaway culture it creates. Which is why buying high-quality, second-hand goods — from local suppliers such as Keystone Vintage and Zeus Vintage — and teaching yourself the skills to repair your own clothes are also intrinsic to the slow fashion ethos. Doncopolitan’s Slowfashion Saturday event showed local students that the principles of Slow Fashion could inspire whole new ways of working. The future of fashion is bright, the future of fashion is slow.
If something can be done, it can be done slowly. As long as something high-quality, preferably artisanally produced, local, environmentally sensitive and made with the best interests of people in mind then it can be described as slow. Our magazine and our Slowdown Sunday events have showcased some of the best artisan businesses and producers in the region. And the list is growing daily. Which is why we are taking the next step and officially launching our oft-promised Doncopolitan Slow Club this year. We’ve already registered Doncaster with Slow Food UK and are currently putting together a calendar of workshops, get-togethers and events designed to help people live a slower life.
It is hoped that the launch of Slow Club, the creation of Slow Food Doncaster and Slow Fashion Doncaster will take Doncaster further along the path to becoming a Cittaslow, or Slow City. We believe that slow principles are right for Doncaster and that Doncaster is the perfect place to pilot and showcase new slow initiatives. If you want to slow down, or are already living in the slow lane and want to share your story, then please get in touch.
Life is short, take it slow.