Wednesday. 17/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinon / Nolan Giles

Walk this way

Tightly woven around spectacular architecture, verdant parks and abundant retail, it’s no surprise that the pavements of Manhattan rate as the US’s most well trodden. But city-builders across the country are now casting their gaze to Denver as it emerges as the US’s second most “walkable” city. The findings come from a recent report and arrive at a time when the country’s smaller downtowns are increasingly becoming dead spaces devoid of activity; a lack of pedestrians owing to a lack of places to shop, socialise and the like.

So what did Denver do to buck this trend? Smart investment in mixed-use developments in its CBD has created a concentration of jobs (and foot traffic) downtown; employment has grown 30 per cent from a decade ago, in fact. Public-transport links have improved too, seeing more workers swap cars for greener commutes that involve a few more footsteps and a little less depletion for the planet and their pockets.

Creating a vibrant, compact downtown is not easy: it involves being smart with density and designing on a human scale. But do it right, as Denver has, and you'll create a fitter, happier and more productive city – well worth the effort, we say.

Politics / Europe

Top of the bloc

Former German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has garnered enough support from MEPs to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission. It was a close-run thing: Von der Leyen (pictured, with Juncker) edged a majority after two weeks of campaigning that culminated in a final appeal to EU lawmakers yesterday. During the address she laid out a plan for the environment that would enshrine the bloc’s 2050 carbon-emissions targets in law. She also pledged to draw up a new protocol for how to take on the migrant issue and talked tough on big technology companies flouting EU tax laws. In November the work begins. The question on everyone’s lips is: how much sway will the new president have in the European Parliament with such a narrow majority?

Aviation / Pakistan

Raising hopes

The world’s airlines breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as Pakistan lifted the ban on civilian flights travelling through its airspace. Carriers, including Qantas and United Airlines, were forced to reroute or cancel services after Islamabad closed off its airspace in the wake of tensions with neighbouring India in February. This was a major issue for the aviation industry – Pakistan is a key flight corridor between Asia and Europe – and making detours was costly. The hardest hit was debt-laden Air India, which lost an estimated €63m due to the closure. The reopening has some suggesting that relations between the neighbours might be improving; the aviation industry will be hoping that this conjecture is correct.

Culture / Hong Kong

Reading the riot act

The Hong Kong Book Fair opens today and will boast a record number of exhibitors at its harbourfront location at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The question of whether the annual fair will attract similarly high numbers of attendees is uncertain as protests against the city’s controversial extradition bill drag on. If students do attend, it won’t only be to indulge in new works of literature: rumours of planned protests surrounding Chinese state-owned booths have surfaced as activists grow impatient at Carrie Lam’s unwillingness to withdraw the bill. Though security measures for the fair are unclear, the chief executive has decided to play it safe and not attend for the first time in three years.

Culture / Canada

Bend the rules

Margaret Trudeau, mother of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, has been a fixture of tabloid headlines since 1971 when, at 22, she secretly married prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Now she’s headlining her own one-woman show, Certain Woman of an Age, which arrives in Montréal later this month for the city’s Just For Laughs festival. The show, which debuted in May in Chicago, is chock-full of anecdotes, including partying with Mick Jagger and how a too-short dress offended US president Jimmy Carter. But by reflecting on her life with bipolar disorder, it’s also an attempt to destigmatise mental illness. In the 1970s Mrs Trudeau (pictured) won fans by refusing to confine herself to what was expected of a political spouse and, at 70 years old, she continues to defy expectations.

M24 / Monocle on Design

Roberto Burle Marx

We take a tour of the New York Botanical Garden’s horticultural tribute to the Brazilian modernist landscaper.

Monocle Films / The Netherlands

Art is Therapy

Art is about more than just a nice painting – it can be a tool for understanding the many brushstrokes of life. So says philosopher Alain de Botton, who co-curated an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam called 'Art is Therapy'. Monocle's Robert Bound met De Botton in the Rijksmuseum to learn more about his artistic treatment.

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