The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 22 April 2016

Image: Getty Images

Jam session

It’s not an accolade that many cities would aspire to but Jinan in eastern China has overtaken Beijing to become the most congested city in the country. The analysis of traffic delays in Chinese cities appeared in a joint study undertaken by AutoNavi Software, Tsinghua University and car-maker Daimler AG. In the first three months of 2016 the traffic in Jinan moved at an average of just above 20km per hour in rush hour, more than doubling the time of a typical commute in the city. Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, was followed in the ranking by Beijing and Hangzhou. Shanghai came in at 11th and Hong Kong at 18th with a relatively swift rush-hour average of 30km per hour.

Image: Guilhem Vellut

Clean sweep

Ever felt short-changed by your city’s services and wanted to do something about it? Talk to the citizens of Chateau Rouge, a northeast neighbourhood in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, who are suing city hall (pictured) for not keeping the district clean. The main source of the upset is illegal street vendors and open markets operating in the area, which leave debris in their wake; residents feel the city has been slow to clean up afterwards, which is why they’re suing it for €20,000 for a “breach of equality” in services. It’s unclear how successful they’ll be in their suit but considering that the Council of Paris has budgeted €25m for tidying up the city this year, the strong stance could go a long way to ensuring Chateau Rouge sees a cleaner future.

Image: James Willamor

Have it made?

Former manufacturing towns and rust-belt cities have suffered economically in the US in recent decades as fabrication jobs have moved abroad. However, a new book called The Smartest Places on Earth by authors Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker is making the case that these cities are poised to transform into a “brainbelt”. Although, according to the authors, US manufacturing has shed seven million jobs, there are 10 million now employed in high-tech industries. Many of the former rust-belt cities – such as Akron, Raleigh, Durham, Minneapolis and Saint Paul – have been rearing partnerships between universities and private companies to spawn innovation hubs and regain economic strength. Perhaps looking to the future rather than the past is the order of the day.

Image: Mike

Stepping up to the plate

Last week Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti announced that his Italian food emporium is due to make its first foray into Toronto next year; the move is thanks to the Weston family who own Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws. An advocate of the “slow-food” movement, Farinetti pioneered the grocery-restaurant hybrid in 2007 when he opened the first Eataly shop in Turin. When his outpost in Manhattan’s Flatiron district started welcoming patrons three years later it quickly became the go-to spot for quality produce in the city. The Toronto location is still undisclosed and industry observers see a food war brewing on the horizon, with upscale brands such as local gourmet grocers Pusateri’s and Whole Foods already in the market. We believe Eataly may find its stiffest competition in Terroni’s, which residents know serves the heartiest Italian in town.

From Monocle 24

Image: Stefan Fürtbauer

Quality of Life Conference: How to Make a Nation

Last weekend we packed our bags and set up shop in Vienna for this year’s Monocle Quality of Life Conference. One of the panels examined the issue of national identity and our guests were Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad; architect, city-planner and Estonian MP Yoko Alender; and Italian journalist and writer Gianni Riotta.

From Monocle Films

Senior style in Japan

For many older people in Japan work isn’t just a way to keep busy but also a source of happiness and wellbeing. From a 71-year-old barber to a 100-year-old café owner, Japan’s elderly are showing little sign of letting up.

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