Thursday. 1/10/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Time to chill

Does your mayor need to book a ski trip? Do you think she or he could be persuaded to go to the mountains? St Moritz would be nice. Or how about a hotel in Whistler? We’re serious. In more usual times, Monocle would be covering congresses where big-city mayors convene to share best practice, and urging them to have a flight ticket signed off by their accounts committee so that they can witness what progress looks like in rival urban centres. But now? Well, as winter approaches they need to be out there seeing how snowy, ear-freezing, toe-numbing frosty villages manage to keep people eating and drinking alfresco as the mercury plummets.

This summer has been a struggle for many hospitality establishments hit by ever-changing rules and a public still cautious about being indoors with a crowd. But the easing of city regulations around outdoor seating, the ability to convert parking spaces into extra restaurant capacity and a new relaxed demeanour from city halls have all helped to keep numerous establishments afloat. This laissez-faire attitude to planning must be extended into winter.

So although outdoor heaters are not great for the environment, cities need to drop their opposition to them for one winter and allow for the erection of windbreaks and temporary huts to enable venues to provide service in the street – as happens in those ski villages. And restaurant owners need to supply cosy blankets to cover the knees of hardy outdoor diners. As for the rest of us, our fashion shopping lists should include thermals, lined boots, fleeces (sorry, hopefully no one will take pictures) and hats. If we all get onboard, thousands of jobs can be saved and even city dwellers will develop a passion for Glühwein that will warm everyone’s hearts.

Politics / Hong Kong

Unhappy birthday

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) turns 71 today but not everyone will be celebrating. Hong Kong’s police force is set to deploy some 6,000 officers for the 1 October national holiday ⎯⎯ an annual lightning rod for pro-democracy activists. This year’s march has been banned under the city’s continuing coronavirus measures, which restrict public gatherings to groups of four. Organisers have accused the government of politicising the pandemic and are calling for supporters to conduct their own personal protests. A spike in online chatter has prompted today’s heavy police presence, although few expect this year’s scenes to be anything like the carnage of 2019. Unauthorised protests erupted across the city last year, culminating in a policeman shooting a teenager in the chest with a live round. The PRC might be another year older but it is none the wiser when it comes to solving Hong Kong’s underlying unrest.

Retail / Global

Waste not, want not

A number of the world’s biggest food suppliers, including Nestlé, Carrefour, Walmart and PepsiCo, have committed to halving their food waste by 2030. It’s a pledge that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Washington Post estimates that, were it a country, food waste would be the third biggest contributor to global warming after the US and China – not to mention causing $940bn (€801bn) in annual losses. Moreover, the solutions involve a detailed rethink of supply chains, rather than costly new technologies.

So why the delay? Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco and chair of Champions 12.3, the sustainability organisation behind the pledge, suggests that tackling food waste simply hasn’t been a global priority, noting that it isn’t cited anywhere in the Paris Agreement. “Food loss and waste are unseen, undervalued and a disturbing loss of human, environmental and economic capital,” adds Unilever CEO Alan Jope. With businesses everywhere facing tough choices, it would be a shame to let the easy solutions go to waste.

Tourism / Japan

Visitation rights

How do you maintain control over remote islands and avoid territorial claims from other countries? The Japanese government thinks that it has the (non-military) answer: tourism. Japan has been subsidising airfares and ferry tickets to 71 islands. The idea is that more inhabitants and visitors will help Japan maintain its hold over the territories and their surrounding waters. The pandemic has severely hit tourism on these small and beautiful outposts, so now the government is pouring ¥6bn (€48m) into next year’s budget to build accommodation for remote workers and to subsidise additional holiday flights. Meanwhile, the government is also launching renewed diplomatic efforts: prime minister Yoshihide Suga, in a call with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, expressed his willingness to resolve separate territorial claims over the Russian-occupied islands that Japan calls the Northern Territories. Successfully managing security concerns and boosting tourism would amount to killing two birds with one stone – or isseki nicho as the Japanese saying goes.

Culture / UK

Screen sharing

Londoners know Piccadilly Circus for the backlit glare of its colossal billboards flogging Coca-Cola to hordes of passing tourists (well, when there are any) but a new art project aims to add an unexpected draw to this technicolour junction. Circa, a burgeoning platform for digital art in public places, will be taking over the billboards (the largest of their kind in Europe) for two minutes every evening from today to display specially commissioned works of video art. The project launches this week with a one-hour film by Ai Weiwei (pictured) that will be shown in two-minute instalments throughout the month. “Public art is more important than ever before,” artist and Circa-founder Josef O’Connor tells The Monocle Minute. “This project is an opportunity for people to engage with culture outdoors without the confinement of a white-cube space. And as the world becomes more divided, any opportunity to draw people closer together can only be a good thing.”

M24 / Monocle On Design

Merging architecture with the natural world

Dutch architect Winy Maas discusses his latest project and the importance of a strong relationship between architecture and the natural world. Plus, we delve into the realm of Danish silverware, reflect on the trends coming out of Milan fashion week and explore Swiss sustainability.

Monocle Films / Global

The secret to putting on perfume

In our ‘Secret to...’ series we look at the best way to wear a fragrance with Frances Shoemack, founder of Abel perfumes.

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