Nature & Science
Cynthia Schears leads Cittaslow in Diss
Diss aims for a greener lifestyle
A bit of Italy has been transported to Diss. Cittaslow means slow city or town, with Diss joining the Italian-founded network in 2006 to help people enjoy a good quality of life and respect the environment by embracing local goods and services.
A scheme which started in an Italian market town in Umbria has spread its tentacles to Diss, aiming to help people achieve a greener lifestyle and enhance surroundings.
Cittaslow - which translated from Italian means slow city or town - was adopted by the south Norfolk town in March 2006.
Diss was accepted into the international network of towns after taking to its heart Cittaslow's ethos to cast an eye back to how people used to live and regaining on a slower pace of life.
Diss is just one of seven places across Britain - including Aylsham in north Norfolk - which is a member of the Cittaslow movement.
The campaign has a wide range of goals from encouraging young people to fulfil their promise, valuing the elderly, providing good services for visitors and preserving heritage.
The Cittaslow snail will mark the trail
As a Cittaslow town, Diss is working towards all of these but one of its key aims is to cut the carbon footprint by encouraging shopkeepers to source locally-produced food and getting people to shop locally.
Diss' Cittaslow co-ordinator Cynthia Schears said one of the ways the movement is hoping to achieve this is by launching a business recognition scheme.
"What we want to do is sign up local businesses to align with the Cittaslow values and principles and ethos," she said.
"Some of those things might be becoming a greener business, thinking more about recycling, how they use water, what paper they use, electric low-energy light bulbs - or some of them might be what they stock - do they source from local suppliers.
"And if they are using local ingredients do they promote that to their customers, do they train their staff all about local products."
Along with the soon-to-be-launched business recognition scheme, a town trail should also be in place by summer.
It will trace a route through some of Diss' tucked away yards - with their array of independent shops - around the six-acre Mere so people can make appreciate the wildlife and at stops along the way to mark the town's historical buildings.
The snail trail - which takes its lead from the Cittaslow snail logo - will boast information signs and stickers to lead people around the town.
Freddie Jones wants to reduce his carbon footprint
One shopkeeper who plans to sign up for a spot on the trail is Freddie Jones, who runs a delicatessen with his wife Linda.
"I think it's an excellent organisation," he said.
"The whole thinking behind it is of a slower way of life, sourcing products wherever we can locally to reduce our carbon footprint and making people generally aware of what they're eating.
He added: "I think the more people who are aware of what is happening the quicker we can put all the wrongs right that we've done to our planet and to our county and make things just so much better."
As a model of sustainable development, Cittaslow has already made its way from Italy to Diss - and now there are plans to roll out the scheme to the whole of the Waveney valley, to help us further appreciate what's on our doorsteps and to preserve what's around us.
For more information on Cittaslow in Diss, visit the Cittaslow Centre in Cobbs Yard, St Nicholas Street or call 01379 642 002.
last updated: 19/05/2008 at 12:07