Thursday. 15/8/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

We mean business

It’s the middle of August and the so-called “silly season” for light news is in full flow. Parliaments are adjourned, CEOs are by the seaside and a fair few others are snoozing on boat decks or in shady parks. Not at Monocle, mind. Today marks the release of issue two of our Summer Weekly newspaper, which is here to shed sunlight on lesser-explored corners of the world and accompany our readers through “cucumber season” (as the slow-news cycle is known in the Nordics) with bright ideas and insights. We look at the future of shipping taking shape in remote Nordic shipyards, assess policing in the Netherlands (on boats rather than bikes) and find out where to go on a fruitful wine tour (the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon).

Our newspaper stays true to our commitment to smart storytelling. We’ve long believed in the merits of sending photographers on assignment, reporting on the ground and the capacity of pay-your-way journalism to persuade, inspire and nudge. So, what do the stories of a Tunisian leadership hopeful or presidents’ planes say about the state of the world today? What about the sudden – and unlikely – popularity of dance halls in Milan or the lengths some Brits will go to to get a new passport? Well you’ll need to nab a copy for more on that. Cucumber season? Not on our patch.

Security / Netherlands

On the strait and narrow

Amsterdam is beset by tourists intent on messing about on the water. Now the police are stepping up efforts to curb drunkenness and antisocial behaviour on the city’s canals. Boats carrying more than 12 people, plus a skipper, now need a licence to operate. And there will be more manpower to enforce existing rules, such as a ban on amplified music. Good thing too. Recent years have seen a rise in illegal party boats; an estimated 300 of them have ferried passengers around commercially without a licence. Meanwhile, boisterous behaviour on the water caused noise complaints to rise by 30 per cent between 2015 and 2017. Pick up a copy of issue two of Monocle’s Summer Weekly to read more about the Netherlands’ thin blue line.

Environment / Oceania

Keep digging

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has called on Australia to act on climate change. Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu yesterday, she called on her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison to introduce measures that would help reduce CO2 emissions. The location of the forum is significant: rising sea levels are encroaching on Tuvalu’s landmass, forcing some residents to make for higher ground. A joint declaration is being discussed by leaders in the region, many of whom want to limit emissions and put an immediate end to coal mining. Will Morrison join in? Unlikely. He has long campaigned for coal and approved the construction of a major new mine in June.

Dance / Italy

In full swing

During the hotter months, many residents of Italian cities spill out into the countryside, especially around Ferragosto (a public holiday celebrated today). But there’s one place in Milan that draws the crowds well into midsummer – and beyond. Once only a playground for the silver set, the city’s balere (dance halls) have been rediscovered by a younger generation keen to join in the shimmying. The Balera dell’Ortica is a case in point: first opened in 1896, it is now managed by twins Veronica and Marina di Furia – a former makeup artist and creative director, respectively. With a band playing polka, mazurka or Lindy hop in the background, people from the city’s design and fashion industries brush shoulders with oldies who are happy to guide them in taking their first steps. See Monocle’s most recent issue of the Summer Weekly to find out more.

Fashion / Global

Find your feet

When it comes to sustainability, people more than ever are inclined to vote with their feet. Sustainable trainers brand Allbirds has branched out into socks. The company that made a name for itself with its comfortable footwear is using a new yarn known as Trino – a blend of merino wool and fibres from eucalyptus trees – to make its new product. It’s a savvy business play: the sock is the closest relative to the shoe and could provide a manufacturing stepping stone for the company to move into other apparel – think cosy Allbirds trousers and shirts. The material of the socks is also made partly from recycled plastic bottles (a cause close to the hearts of the brand’s conscientious customer base) and are 100 per cent carbon neutral. Now that’s something we can get in step with.

M24 / Monocle on Design

Bookmaking boom

Disegno editor in chief Oli Stratford mulls over the design headlines with Josh Fehnert. Plus: a listen back to a stirring discussion with Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom.

Monocle Films / Madrid

The secret to ordering tapas

We jaunt around Madrid’s tabernas, the lively living rooms of the Spanish capital, and share some tasty dishes with the regulars.

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