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It’s that moment in the year at monocle when we climb the hill to see what’s on the horizon – and offer some ideas about how to make the most of whatever is coming our way. Post-pandemic, perhaps we had all hoped that this would be a time of unabashed celebration, of the global economy moving with greased ease and speed again but also with society holding on to the sense of togetherness that many had experienced during the era of lockdowns. Were we not promised a modern version of the Roaring Twenties by now – a time of hedonism, champagne and easy money? Well, things have turned out a little differently and, yes, there are some threatening clouds stubbornly perched on that horizon.

And yet there is opportunity, hope and ambition even now – much of it generated by the very frustrations and tensions that make people, nations and markets jittery on some days. The push towards renewable fuels; the willingness of businesses to raise their environmental game; the determination of pioneering urbanists to remake challenged cities; the architects creating buildings that genuinely respond to our needs; even the defence players out to ensure that there is nothing similar to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the horizon – all have been given additional momentum by the times we live in. That’s why, as we read the final proofs for this issue, I was struck by just how many people are looking ahead with confidence, ready to tackle whatever comes their way. This roll call of the ambitious, who you’ll meet over the coming pages, includes journalists fighting misinformation, leaders of a library renaissance in Jakarta, publishers of hyperlocal travel guides, farmers rethinking their trade and designers pushing boundaries. There really is a lot of good news out there.

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For the past four years, The Forecast has also  been the home of monocle’s Small Cities Index, which names 25 modestly proportioned places where you could have a good quality of life and run a business with ease; places with smooth transport links, cultural offerings and fun on offer after 18.00. The fortunes and reputations of smaller cities were also boosted by the pandemic as people sought out places where they could live an easier life. It’s one of the reasons why New York and other big US cities have been forced to reflect on their futures (see here). But the rise of the small city is a trend that shows few signs of abating. We like the security that compact urban outposts offer, want to live in places where you feel that everything you need is within easy reach and where you have the potential to make a difference – and if it comes with a walkable morning commute through an attractive park and a glass of wine in a sunny piazza at the end of the day, then all the better. You can discover this year’s winning Small Cities here.

And another positive story? monocle. Thanks to our loyal readers and listeners, we are also looking forward to 2023 and beyond, and planning a host of new projects, books, conferences, reporting missions and ventures. So thank you for all of your backing. We would also like to take this time to wish you an exciting and rewarding 2023 – and if you need a good wine to toast the day, we have even supplied a few recommendations (see here). Cheers!

ILLUSTRATOR: Seiji Matsumoto

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