It might be the end of summer for our readers in the northern hemisphere but September is a time to get things done, make plans and celebrate the triumph of ambition over hardship.
In the northern hemisphere, September is a month for getting back to work, putting into action at least some of the better ideas cooked up while lazing in the sun. (After carefully checking with yourself, of course, that it wasn’t the rosé making a change in direction seem like a good idea.)
It’s a mindset that kicks in not just at an individual level – companies, media players, cities and nations all like to reveal their latest ambitions and plans as a fresh season hits. This appetite for new directions is also the thread running through this issue of monocle. Strangely, one of the places where we discovered this future-focused ambition in spades was during a recent reporting trip to Ukraine.
In the run-up to the war, and in the months that have painfully followed, we have sent our own staff to Ukraine and built up a network of Ukrainian correspondents and writers on the ground, including Olga Tokariuk and Artem Chekh. For this issue, however, we dispatched two of the team from Midori House, Carlota Rebelo and Christopher Cermak. Over 10 days they travelled from the Polish border to Lviv, Kyiv, Chernihiv and Chernivtsi to look at how civil society has dug in for the long haul and to get a sense of what people thought could happen next.
While Chris and Carlota saw the devastating effect of the Russian bombardments and visited the sites of massacres, what hits you is how people are full of ambition and, in between the air-raid sirens, lead oddly normal lives. Sunny Sunday? Well, then the joggers will be out, the parks packed. Their report shows the extraordinary strength of Ukraine and its leaders, who are still planning for, and dreaming about, the renaissance of their battered cities. Indeed, many have already rolled up their sleeves and started getting on with the job. It’s not to deny the enduring hardships or numbing exhaustion but instead to say that life endures and pushes onwards, even now.
In our business pages, we look at how the various scattered elements of the health and wellness industry are also getting back to work. Our Europe editor at large, Ed Stocker, travelled to Lille to meet some of the health start-ups trying to make France a leader in medical innovation. It’s a push that has Emmanuel Macron’s backing – when coronavirus hit and no French company could speedily create a new vaccine, the country realised that it was lagging behind some of its European neighbours. Not a place the president likes to be in.
Our US editor, Christopher Lord, unpacks a very different notion of wellness and getting back to work in his dispatch from Baja, Mexico. Chris went to stay at the Modern Elder Academy, which runs courses for senior executives and older serial entrepreneurs who have a new idea that they want to get off the ground. While the courses may sound a little too hip for some, they help people overcome the idea that age is a barrier to starting over. Yes, the participants have a habit of calling each other “compadre” but if it works, who’s judging.
You should also have a look at our story on the expansion of Stockholm’s Ett Hem hotel by designer Ilse Crawford and the property’s owner, Jeanette Mix. We have covered the story of this hotel before but keep coming back to it because it’s such a well done, against-the-grain, outpost of hospitality. A place that shows how design can transform the way you feel. It’s the sort of establishment we would like to see more of on the horizon.
There’s also plenty happening beyond the pages of the magazine for monocle. Our paperback, The Monocle Companion: Fifty Ideas to Improve Your Life is out now (you can order one online at monocle.com/shop) and we have events coming up in the US and Spain (keep up to date by subscribing to our free newsletters at monocle.com/minute). We also have a pop-up shop at Zürich Airport, so if you’re there and in need of supplies or good gifts, come and say hello to the team.
In the meantime, we hope your September turns out to be a moment when plans play out to perfection. If you have stories to share or need any information about monocle’s late-summer plans, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com.
Illustrator: Motiejus Vaura