The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 1 April 2016

Image: University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment

Creating a buzz

The good will of the sharing economy is now extending to bees. Adopt-a-hive programmes are sprouting across the US in an effort to support beekeepers and save struggling bee colonies, whose humble pollinators are responsible for the health of 70 types of crops. A combination of factors – including colony-collapse disorder, parasites and pesticides – have caused an average annual loss of more than 30 per cent of managed honey-bee colonies. Beehive adopters in such places as Hawai’i, Colorado and Florida pay a fee in exchange for honey from their “adopted” bees and a certificate acknowledging their support; in return the fees help beekeepers stay afloat and if needed cover the cost of bees to populate a new hive. It’s a temporary solution to a dire problem.

Image: Jonathan Nackstrand

Stamp of approval

Swedish-Danish postal service PostNord announced this week that it would be releasing a new postage stamp in Sweden featuring the rainbow of the gay-pride flag. PostNord Sweden issues about 15 stamp series every year, each of which is meant to be a reflection of both the country’s history and its current values. Sweden is well known for its progressive stance on LGBT rights: the country legalised same-sex marriage in 2009, becoming the seventh nation in the world to do so. In issuing the gay-pride stamp, PostNord says it “wants to emphasise the equal value of all people”. It’s a commendable commemoration but it does raise the question of why it’s taken so long to champion LGBT rights in stamp form – especially when previous stamp series have included nods to pop stars Robyn and Avicii, the Swedish royal family and even cats.

Image: Simon Fraser University

The magic number

Cities around the world are encouraging their commuters to go from four wheels to two – but what about three? Vancouver firm VeloMetro has created a bicycle-car hybrid called Veemo: a three-wheel electric-assist vehicle that looks as if it belongs on a playground. Like a bicycle, users pedal to get around but the Veemo is completely enclosed and comes with its own storage unit – like a car. The company is collaborating with the city to roll out the innovative tricycle this September before officially launching it next year. If you’re keen to give it a try and can get over how it looks, the Veemo will likely soon be available through a sharing scheme.

Image: Miki Yoshihito

Hold the phone

The troubling case in Japan of a teenage girl who was captured by a man and held for two years until her escape this week has highlighted the importance of the humble pay phone. The 15-year-old managed to call the police on 110 – a free number – from a pay phone at a station in Tokyo after escaping. With the unstoppable domination of mobile phones in Japan, pay phones have been fading into obscurity: there were 500,000 of them in 2003; by 2014 that figure had dropped to 180,000. On the other hand the number of mobile phones in the country has rocketed: the latest figures say that there are 154 million registered (in a country with a population of 126.9 million). Pay phones won’t disappear entirely though: by law there has to be one every 500 sq m in densely populated areas and every 1 sq km in others.

From Monocle 24

Architecture and ageing

Longevity is slowly changing the urban landscape of our cities and it has become vital to rethink how we approach age around the globe. This was the starting point for architect Matthias Hollwich, who has just released a book called New Aging together with the residential-tower prototype Skyler to better illustrate his ideas.

From Monocle Films

Fashion Forward: Antwerp

The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ fashion department has a reputation for turning out some of the most progressive and stimulating designers each year. We revisit the graduation shows of 2012 to witness the emergence of new fashion talent.

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