Theres something quasi-subversive about Whistler Ive always loved. Not far beneath the Disney-esque façade of the village burbles a quirky alternative energy: part renegade/part laid-back hedonism; 100 per cent independent and smart. Kind of like Johnny Depps inner pirate.
This subterranean energy is a kind of Mobius strip that circles back on itself, attracting a certain people who in turn fuel the vibe. Like the local squatters who, not so long ago and in the middle of Nowhere, built idyllic little cabins and then doggedly re-built them whenever officials burned them down. And the hippie jocks, as Charlie Doyle dubbed them, who came and still come in a nouveau incarnation to follow a dropped out but healthy path.
Its the kind of energy that makes Whistlerites all feisty when it looks like Paralympic arenas are being quietly shunted down the road, or a London Drugs is being shunted up it. Or sends them off on a full-moon all-nighter or to a Bacchanalian Masquerave to rub shoulders with painted naked women.
I like to think that this same idealistic, quasi-subversive, hedonistic vibe is going to gradually but irrefutably ignite Slow Food Whistler. (SFW is a proud co-sponsor of the Aug. 21 Slow Food Cycle Sunday in Pemberton. If you missed the Slow Food Whistler presentation at MY Place in June, or previous articles in the Pique on same, the links below will help you check it out.)
Now heres a concept that makes as much good business sense as it does philosophical, something thats not at all contradictory for a town that likes to think on the right side of its brain as much as its left and pull out all the stops when it comes to sustainability and doing the right meaning fun, independent thing.
To be clear, I harbour no illusions that Whistler culture, counter- or otherwise, is even a shadow of 1968 Paris or Berkeley or a hotbed of anarcho-punk foment. But this slow food and Whistler could be a match made in heaven, especially given falling tourist visits for four consecutive years.
First, some context. Its no surprise that Italy is home to the slow food movement antidote to fast food and all things homogenized, corporatized and globalized; advocate of all things diverse, locally obtained, slowly prepared and sensuously enjoyed. For Italy is also home to superb food, the two-hour meal, and the concept of autogestione literally self-management, but better translated as self-determination.
If the slow food people will allow me to digress a bit Italy has long been a hotbed of independent thinking thats fostered co-operatives, trade unions and all sorts of radical social action. ( Autogestione actually refers to factory workers taking control of their factories and running them democratically without a boss, a post-1968 concept that, while it sounded good at the time, has gotten a bit tattered.)