Ask Slow Cat
By Laura Hagar Rush, Townsy Media, February 8, 2021
Have questions about Sebastopol? The city encourages residents to ask the big orange cat.
The city of Sebastopol is always looking for ways to get residents more interested in what’s happening in town and to keep them informed about what the city is doing on their behalf.
In mid-January, the city unveiled a new initiative called “Ask Slow Cat,” named after the large, orange, Patrick Amiot statue of a cat that, for several years now, the city has parked on residential streets to encourage people to obey the speed limit.
“Ask Slow Cat” is the brainchild of the city’s community outreach coordinator, Holly Hansen.
“We have tried something like this in the past, with “Ask the Mayor,” but it didn’t take off,” she said. “But I noticed that people seem to really like Slow Cat, so I thought they might like asking Slow Cat their questions.”
“We’re always trying to find ways to engage with residents in a friendly, upbeat and optimistic way,” she said, “especially since there’s been so much negativity recently, what with everything that we’re all going through.”
Hansen said Slow Cat has gotten three questions thus far – one about food insecurity in Sebastopol, one about fire prevention, and one about how can residents get Slow Cat installed on their street to slow the traffic.
“Then we ask somebody within the city staff that is knowledgeable and would have the answer to that,” Hansen said.
The city is thinking of having a contest to name Slow.
“I think sooner or later somebody is going to ask, ‘What is your name?’ and ‘Are you a boy or girl?’” Hansen said.
Slow Cat may be a popular mascot for the city, but his (or her?) oversight isn’t always appreciated. At the end of November, Slow Cat took a break from traffic duty and was installed in the downtown plaza to encourage people to wear masks. (Slow Cat started sporting a mask, sewn by Kathy Oetinger, back in September.) The city has had trouble with an energetic group of drummers and dancers frolicking unmasked in the plaza after the farmer’s market is over.
Alas, Slow Cat’s masked example wasn’t appreciated by someone, and there was an unfortunate spray paint incident.
But Slow Cat’s paint has been touched up by artist Brigitte Laurent (Amiot’s partner who does all the painting on his statues), and the big orange guy is back on the question beat.
If you’ve got a question for the city, ask Slow Cat at email@example.com.