City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

FEATURE: National Downshifting Week

Tracey Smith is a good friend of the City Hippy site and is the person behind National Downshifting Week.

Tracey created National Downshifting Week as a response to our modern malaise: a sped-up, over-consuming, yet strangely less content lifestyle. Counter-intuitively downshifting allows us all to take back a sense of perspective and focus on what is important.

The first National Downshifting Week in April 2005 enjoyed much success and 2006 is gearing up to be much bigger.

PLUS for the first time Tracey is running a sister event in the US and the support for that is growing daily. But she needs your help...

We spoke to Tracey to find out what National Downshifting Week is about:

City Hippy: Hi Tracey...really good to talk with you. National Downshifting Week sounds like a great idea. Tell us what you hope to achieve and how?

Tracey Smith: Hi City Hippy, good talking to you too. Love the site! Well one of my aspirations with National Downshifting Week is for people to get a hold of their energy costs, not simply because they want to spend less and feel happier, but because they also realise, collectively, that individually they can make a difference to the planet through small actions.

City Hippy: Makes perfect sense to us...working together people can be very powerful and can and have changed the world. I think it was Ghandi who said something like lighting one candle lights one corner of a dark room - if everybody lit one candle the world would be full of light. So the aim is for National Downshifting Week to help people realise that they can make a difference.

Tracey Smith: Spot on! We need to encourage people to do the 'right' thing by using bite-sized chunks of information they can digest. Go in too big and their shutters come down. Selling the concept via the ideas and suggestions in National Downshifting Week works. We suggest small ideas...easy ideas...for example cook a meal from scratch using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

For the forthcoming campaigns in the UK and USA, I am going to propose simple events and activities for people to do within their communities and families. The activities will hopefully empower people and give them a good excuse to do something 'green and simple'. Apathy is still a hard nut to crack.

My hope is, that the downshifting philosophy will filter through with permanent energy use changes in houses, offices and schools.

We must individually start to make a difference if we hope to affect change and we must also stop being reliant purely upon governments to make it happen - they can't do that any more than they can make us all wear pink knickers tomorrow.

When folks take back control of their money and their time and run their lives according to what really matters they see the bigger picture. They embrace energy saving and green ideas, because they run parallel to their own 'ditch the stress and slow down' ideas.

Either way, the net result is the important one. Happier people, happier planet.

City Hippy: Brilliant Tracey. City Hippy is 100% behind that philosophy. What can readers do to help, other than check out your site and try the National Downshifting Week ideas now and during National Downshifting Week?

Tracey Smith: If readers feel the concept behind National Downshifting Week is ringing a bell in their head I want them to help me spread the word and lend much needed support.

I want them to kick off debate and post a link back to National Downshifting Week in their favourite forums. If they have a website I would encourage them to post about it and show their support by displaying the National Downshifting Week logo with a link back to the site.

If they are a print, radio or TV journalist then get in touch and interview me or just publish/broadcast something about National Downshifting Week to get people thinking about the issues.

Now that Penney Poyzer's No Waste Like Home has ended after a successful first series people are desperate to continue the debates she kicked off about energy, water, food, shopping, consumption and how we define happiness.

Let's get the message out there and lets make a collective difference.

City Hippy: Awesome Tracey...we have a feeling this years National Downshifting Week is gonna be superb! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Namaste.

Tracey Smith: Thanks City Hippy...really appreciate your help.


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