Monday 20 June 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 20/6/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Olga Tokariuk

War story

Three months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine I was invited to attend several events in EU countries – a surreal experience to say the least. For one thing, it took me almost 24 hours to arrive (by land) in Warsaw, from where I continued towards Austria, Italy, Belgium and then back to Ukraine via Romania. As our bus stopped at the border between Ukraine and Poland, I found myself thinking that this is now a border between war and peace, between an EU and Nato country and one that remains in a grey zone outside the Western security architecture.

Even the sounds are different: once you cross, you stop hearing air-raid sirens; the sound of planes flying above is no longer intimidating. The war seems so distant in these countries. Life continues as normal, with busy cafés and banners advertising summer-holiday packages – a luxury for Ukrainians. And while we remain on top of the media agenda and international summits, a growing war fatigue is palpable too. Ukrainians, by contrast, don’t have the privilege of getting tired of war. Daily reminders include those air-raid sirens, new Russian missile strikes, funerals of fallen soldiers and desperate pleas for donations from volunteers helping the army and civilians. War is very personal; we have all lost people. It’s not just dry numbers and news. It is raw and painful.

I saw a lot of signs of solidarity in Europe: Ukrainian flags are everywhere. But what I found missing, with the exception of Poland, was a sense of urgency. Every day of war means hundreds of lives lost – lives of my country’s best and brightest. That’s why Ukrainians are insisting that weapons be sent immediately, to prevent us from losing more talent. I was trying to tell those stories as best as I could on this trip but after several weeks without sirens and in safe surroundings, I was relieved to cross back into war-torn Ukraine. This country is my home; its suffering and uncertain future is mine as well.

Olga Tokariuk is Monocle’s Ukraine correspondent.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / Finland

Breathing space

The Finnish capital Helsinki placed fourth in this year’s Monocle Quality of Life Survey, with judges commending it in particular for its proximity to nature: there are parks, forests and even beaches found within city limits. It’s something that mayor Juhana Vartiainen believes is vital for the city. “We are blessed by having a big seafront,” he tells Monocle. “Helsinki is built quite sparsely, so there is room for parks and it’s not too crowded.” The city has also made huge strides in other aspects of urban dwelling, with a vibrant start-up scene, a vast new waterfront cultural development and, perhaps most important (albeit less tangible), a focus on creating dynamic and mixed neighbourhoods. “We like to put all kinds of housing in neighbourhoods and thereby avoid the extreme polarisation that we unfortunately see in many other cities,” says Vartiainen. “This has been a trump card of Helsinki.”

Hear more from Helsinki’s mayor on today’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle 24 and pick up a copy of Monocle magazine’s summer Quality of Life issue from newsstands today.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Brazil

Dereliction of duty

The murder of the UK journalist Dom Phillips and the indigenous rights activist Bruno Pereira in the Brazilian Amazon has angered environmentalists, journalists and human rights defenders but it’s the fallout of president Jair Bolsonaro’s dismissive response that could be particularly lasting. The men had been conducting research for Phillips’s book about sustainable development in the rainforest when they were first reported missing on 5 June.

As global outrage over their disappearance grew, the authorities’ slow response eventually expanded to include the army, navy and police. Last week a fisherman’s confession to killing both men rocked the country. Bolsonaro (pictured), for his part, not only faces criticism for his lax environmental policies but has suggested that Phillips was “frowned upon” in the Amazon and should have paid more attention. “A government’s fundamental responsibility is to protect and defend its own territory and to ensure the security of its citizens,” Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, tells the Monocle Minute. He also says that by shrugging off violence against environmentalists – a common occurrence in the region – it looks like Bolsonaro has “abdicated that responsibility”.

Image: Getty Images

Society / USA

Sweet freedom

“Juneteenth” celebrations have long been a tradition in Galveston Bay, Texas, where yesterday marked the 157th anniversary of when Union troops arrived in the town to announce that all slaves in Texas were legally free – the last to be liberated in the US. This year is the first time that Juneteenth has been designated as a federal holiday after being signed into law by Joe Biden last year, prompting more events than ever in cities across the country. But celebrations in its birthplace have been especially joyous.

Festivities yesterday included a re-enactment of the proclamation read out by a Union general in 1865, followed by a parade through the city. And today, the day of the official holiday, the Texas town will continue with a Juneteenth Jubilee festival, featuring music, dancing and further performances of historic moments. Sure, you can reflect on this moving occasion anywhere but it’s worth considering a trip to the place where it all started.

Image: Grégoire Bernardi

Culture / France

Alfresco art

Nestled between the French Riviera and the Préalpes d’Azur mountain range, Saint-Paul de Vence has been home to artists Arik Levy (pictured) and Zoé Ouvrier for two years, since they left Paris in search of a warmer climate and proximity to the sea. They found a house previously owned by French ballerina Sylvie Guillem, with a luminous studio and expansive garden. As of spring, the couple have been taking appointments for visitors to tour their home and sculpture park filled with Levy’s works. “Collectors come to see the dialogue between sculpture and nature,” Levy tells Monocle. “It’s a dream for any artist to have this space.” Pieces such as the towering “Micro Rocks Copper” and star-shaped “Rock Growth” pop up between cypress, lemon and olive trees. “I learnt a lot from design,” says Levy. “Structural materials, physics, technology – I implement design into my art because it’s a tool. And vice versa: I enrich design with art.”

Read more about Levy’s sculpture garden in the July/August issue of Monocle, out now on newsstands.

Image: Felix Odell

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

The Monocle Quality of Life Survey

We explore Monocle magazine’s annual Quality of Life Survey to find out what makes the winning cities tick.

Monocle Films / Finland

The home of the Finnish art scene

We tour the breathtaking studios of artists’ residence Lallukka in Helsinki, which hasn’t changed its purpose since it was completed in 1933. The landmark functionalist building offers spaces at low rents so that its tenants can focus on one thing: making art.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00