The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 23 February 2017

Image: Getty Images

Reaching out

Image is everything in politics and no one understands that better than Argentina’s business-friendly president Mauricio Macri. Photographs published of him cycling around Central Park in September last year with his wife Juliana Awada proved a hit back home. But now Macri is in Spain on a different sort of publicity exercise: restoring bilateral relations that were damaged back in 2012 under populist leader Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The damage was done by the renationalisation of oil company YPF, which had until then been owned by Spanish giant Repsol. And Macri has every reason to want to woo Spain: it used to be the Latin American nation’s largest investor. The president, who is trying to kick-start his economy, wouldn’t mind a return to those good old days.

Image: Alamy

Singapore’s page turners

Despite a burgeoning underground literary scene Singaporean literature, affectionately known as “SingLit”, still languishes in sales. To spur wider interest in written work produced at home more than 30 publishers, distributors and booksellers are joining forces for a three-day Buy SingLit Festival. Book fairs, readings and tours of literary landmarks will take place on 25 and 26 February. Even if the festival generates a buzz, the challenge will lie in sustaining interest in homegrown literature. “It’s a small market and there isn’t a lot of emphasis on literature in schools,” says Edmund Wee, founder of Singaporean independent publisher Epigram Books, which is set to launch an arm of its imprint in London to take Singaporean literature beyond its borders.

Image: Alamy

Step on it

Women in Japan’s Fukui prefecture aren’t walking enough and high heels are to blame. The country’s last National Health and Nutrition Survey revealed that the average number of steps per day for adult women in Fukui was 6,257, well below the desired 10,000. In rural areas, where workers tend to drive from home to work and back again, there is less opportunity for walking compared with cities, where people are more likely to walk to the station and between transfers. Now the prefecture has started a campaign called Sneaker Biz, which calls on companies to encourage female employees to ditch their stilettos and wear trainers to work. Fukui is not alone: Mie prefecture was the pioneer in tackling the trend by declaring every Wednesday Sneakers Day.

Image: Arcaud Images

Design hothouse

A 1960s modernist dwelling in south London, designed by Richard Rogers, will become home to a group of architecture aficionados under a new Harvard University fellowship. Rogers, one of the UK’s pre-eminent architects, donated 22 Parkside, a Grade II*-listed building that boasts a low-slung steel frame and enormous glass windows to the Massachusetts school last year. Harvard subsequently created the Richard Rogers fellowship, which is open to architects, urban planners and economists whose work examines current issues facing urban environments. Its recipients are rewarded with a three-month residency at the house. Among the 2017 roll-call, announced this week, are Norwegian Namik Mackic, who’s exploring the effects of refugees on London and Berlin’s built environment and Maik Novotny from Austria, who will compare Vienna’s and London’s approaches to public housing.

From Monocle 24

Image: Tom Griffiths

A cut above

Aron Gelbard is reinventing how we buy, send and receive fresh flowers with his company Bloom & Wild, which boxes up flowers in a container that fits through your letterbox. He explains how the company was founded.

From Monocle Films

Dining down under

Australia’s drinking and dining scene is thriving. Monocle Films visits three restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart that share a passion for good food and honest ingredients.

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