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Carl Honore
You take the slow road – Carl Honore

British heir to the throne Prince Charles recently spoke out about the need for us all to slow down. Everything is just getting faster and faster he told a BBC interviewer. It can’t go on. That interview took place shortly after Charles received a signed copy of  In Praise of Slow by Carl Honor. The book has been published in 20 languages and over 40 countries including Brazil, China, India. You can click on the link below to buy it and 4% will go to benefit this web site. The book is a paean to slowing down without stopping altogether, written by a busy, unashamedly ambitious, and formerly impatient financial journalist.

Honor lives in London and spends his time speaking and consulting on the subject of slowing down. He spoke to us about the overlap between the slow philosophy and the off-grid philosophy.

Off-grid is in a sense about getting back to natural rhythms, Honor said. Being aware of where your fuel is coming from, or the source of the water on the land, it plugs you into nature. The whole hyperstimulated future we have created is based on a divorce from nature and a move towards clock driven rhythms.

The “slow movement” is growing rapidly. But is its downshifting philosophy practical for busy urbanites? Yes it is. Frankly, we at Off-Grid see “being busy” as a sign of failure. (to read the rest of the story or buy Honore’s book from Amazon on the next page, click more — 4% of the purchase price goes to support this web site)

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The Off-grid movement is moving in the same direction as the Slow movement, Honor told us, especially when it comes to forming eco-communities.

People banding together in small groups at a local level is very much part of the slow ethos  a community becoming connected – interaction with nature, in harmony with your neighbour.

Even if a street like mine put on just one aspect of off-grid like the power then it would begin to make a difference.

Honor receives many invitations to talk to big companies. “Its not just aromatherapy cooperatives who warm to the idea,” he said. “Its big businesslike banks, software companies — cutting edge capitalists who realise there is too much speed in the system, too much impatience, their staff are overloaded and burning out, and not able to think as creatively as before. There’s too much fast-forward.

‘And then they are interested in the idea of slow as a brand. They are aware that a cultural shift is going on and they can use to sell their products. I am in two minds abut that. I am in talks and will have a preliminary meeting. I don’t want to go down the road of becoming a marketeer.

There is so much prestige attached to working the whole time, we worry that if we go off the grid for a second we might miss something, says Honor.

The British used to make a virtue out of effortless success. Now they have become Americanised and like to boast of their grim effort to reach their goals…..

In Praise of Slow : How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of SpeedIn Praise of Slow : How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed – buy the US edition

Buy the UK edition from Amazon
However, for most, life is still a race to get more done and perversely, the faster we operate, the more we find it impossible to fit everything we want in. In Praise of Slow puts forward the case for the “slow movement”, which not only encourages us to shift down a gear or two, but also enables us to reassess our (often unhealthy) relationship with time. Slowing down is now a global phenomenon, and the book still rides high in the Amazon charts, with editions available everywhere from Israel to Taiwan, Croatia to Thailand.

The author has a huge following round the world. The first slow festival was recently held in Canberra, Australia, while the “voluntary slowness movement” is currently going down a storm in Poland. More and more people are going slow and Honor insists that, “It”s not just the New Age brigade”. Cutting- edge companies are starting to build slowness into their software: Microsoft”s new email program will have a “switch off” function, so you won”t be disturbed by a sonic alert every time an email pops into your inbox. Meanwhile, software giant Veritas”s “email-free Friday” is said to be the most productive day of the week.

“It”s not easy or something that happens overnight,” concedes Honor. “Getting over speedaholism is like getting over alcoholism. You have to be aware of social pressure and slipping back into old ways.”

Honor points out that putting the brakes on our leisure activities is just as important. “It”s not about upping sticks and moving to Cornwall,” says Honor. “You want to look at how you are working: do you really need to have your BlackBerry on you while you are on a date? Often, the answer is no, but

“Three years ago I was a cynic,” he admits. “But once people realise that there are benefits to slowing down and take that first leap, I don”t think they ever look back.”

“In Praise of Slow” by Carl Honor is published by Orion, priced 7.99. To order a copy with free p&p, call Independent Books Direct on 08700 798 897. For further information, visit www.inpraiseofslow.com

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

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