The Monocle Minute

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

Image: PA Images

Turkish plight

Turkey has entered new, foreboding territory: a national state of emergency is in place; the Lira is at record lows; and the country’s institutions are undergoing a top-to-bottom purge as the government continues to root out sympathisers to last week’s failed coup. But sundown in Istanbul’s Taksim Square has so far presented a rather different picture as free public transport brings a diverse crowd to the centre of the city every night, engulfing the area in a sea of red flags. A week on from the attempted coup, the ominous question has been raised: when does the party end? The nightly nationalistic pageants of Ottoman marching bands and honking car horns have kept Turks onside but it isn’t going to last forever, especially when the terms of governance in an emergency become clear.

Image: Michael Swan

Suffering from buffering

You may not expect a country such as Canada to be plagued by an absence of high-speed internet but such is the case for parts of rural Ontario. Telecommunications companies have so far resisted laying fibre optic or even copper cables – the basic infrastructure for the service – because there’s not enough money to be made and, unlike phone lines, there are no laws guaranteeing that the service will be readily available to all. The result is a rural-urban “digital divide” that is impairing the province’s overall competitiveness. Recognising that high-speed connectivity is a necessity rather than a luxury, Ontario is on the lookout for its first chief digital officer, a deputy minister post with a salary of more than CA$200,000 (€139,500).

Image: Daniel70mi Falciola

Cultivating culture

With half of Italy’s Unesco sites – and a solid 60 per cent of its total archaeological patrimony – located in rural areas, many monuments are at risk of being neglected or forgotten about altogether. In an attempt to find wardens for the various ancient towers, churches and farms punctuating the countryside, the Italian Farmers Confederation is launching a new programme called Coltiviamo l’Arte (“Let’s Grow Art”). As well as looking after their own land, farmers are encouraged to take care of the cultural sites in and around their properties. A pilot scheme has already been launched in the central Emilia Romagna region (pictured) and there are plans to extend it to the southern regions of Puglia and Basilicata as the programme is likely to sow tourism opportunities and jobs in fertile territories.

Moveable feasts

Transporting authentic regional cuisine across borders is tricky, not least because ingredients are often bound by location and climate. But the brands behind Japan Food Town, a foodhall that opened in Singapore this month, have deftly overcome such hurdles. Every day they fly fresh produce direct from Okinawa to the city-state to share the best of Japan’s regional fare with the world: Anzu, for example, uses vegetables from its Kyushu farm, while Hokkaido Izakaya crafts dishes with exclusive seafood and produce from Japan’s northernmost island. For all 16 stalls situated within the hall this is their first foray outside of Japan. Beyond the originality of the tastes on offer, the Takashi Miyazato-designed space is a tribute to Japan’s rich heritage, right down to the textured concrete walls handcrafted by traditional Sakan artisans. It’s an aspirational lesson for nearby nations that wish to bring their cultural exports to life.

From Monocle 24

Image: Rodrigo Soldon

The curse of summer in Rio de Janeiro

It comes as no surprise that year-round hot temperatures make Rio de Janeiro the ultimate city for sun-worshippers. But despite its beach-loving culture inhabitants tend to escape the city during the heat of summer. Tune in to find out why.

From Monocle Films

Brno: fully functional

The Czech Republic’s second city was central to European design before falling into a troubled 20th-century sleep. Revival came thanks to research investment but its future may lie in its design heritage. Monocle Films reports.

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