Review: New Slow City by William Powers
New Slow City recounts the year William Powers and his wife spent living a slow and mindful life amidst the bustling milieu of New York City. After a move from a single-family home in Queens to a 350-square foot apartment in Greenwich Village, we bear witness to the challenges and successes of slow living in the city that never sleeps. A hit list of urban sanctuaries and a diverse cast of characters — the pigeon expert, the jam band, the yogi, the Wisdomkeeper Council — weave in and out of a story that both entertains and educates.
Whether teaching his NYU course or chatting with the co-founder of Take Back Your Time, Powers challenges the idea of the American Dream as our ultimate measure of success. Touching on sustainability, consumerism, capitalism, and our perceived paucity of time, he deftly argues for a new paradigm shift in society.
Powers’s argument is persuasive. Americans work longer (nearly nine full weeks more) than our European counterparts. That drive does not make us happier and is doing the earth no favors. Powers meticulously observes a constellation of issues from climate change to social disconnect. Never preaching, always searching, he generously shares his observations for cultivating a more connected life.
Eighty-five blocks north in my own 350-square-foot apartment, New Slow City inspired me to assess this disconnect in my own life. An observer by nature, I am quick to accept the advice to slow down, to think, to take my time, to breathe, to daydream. Armed with this purpose, I’m beginning to see New York with fresh eyes. I’m slowing myself down to lengthen conversations, seek out urban sanctuaries, and experience “natural time”.
Nonetheless, an appreciation for social connections, nature, and a mindful existence are not bound to the schist of New York City. Regardless of location, readers would do well to examine the slow living principles Powers lays out in New Slow City and, in the process, nurture a more content and meaningful existence.
Illustrations by Kyle Pierce.