Wednesday 7 December 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 7/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Call of duty

It can be hard for cities to instil a sense of civic mindfulness and many are contending with increases in graffiti and fly-tipping. Several US metropolises are also struggling to ensure that their dedicated bike lanes aren’t blocked by delivery trucks and lazy drivers, which prevents people from riding safely and comfortably.

To address this problem, a lobby group called Walk Bike Washtenaw in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is suggesting a “bounty” on vehicles that block bike lanes. The proposal, which has been submitted to City Hall for consideration, would award those who report a blocked lane a percentage of the resulting fine. Similar proposals are being explored in New York and Austin. Speaking to local press, Walk Bike Washtenaw board member Jaime Magiera said, “[Many] bicyclists just accept that the lanes are blocked or call it in to the non-emergency police line, which rarely has timely outcomes.” He hopes that the move will improve riding conditions and establish a dialogue between residents and officials, disrupting the status quo of lethargy from councils and lack of action from residents.

Ann Arbor officials have yet to formally respond to the proposal but some have expressed concerns that the bounty fails to address the root cause of the issue. “Planning failures such as not requiring drop-off areas for deliveries, creating protected bike lanes without meaningful public input and doing away with parking minimums have created this mess,” says council member Jeff Hayner. Despite Hayner’s protests, there are plenty of examples where similar infrastructure is respected: one only has to look to cities in Denmark and the Netherlands where bike lanes are rarely obstructed. Clearly there needs to be a cultural shift to make US cities more bikeable and, by extension, liveable. One way of doing this is to find a means to hold everyone accountable and this proposal could do just that. If it results in some civic mindfulness along the way, that can only be a good thing.

Nic Monisse is Monocle’s design editor.

Image: Getty Images


Rise of the machines

Artificial intelligence is on Europe’s mind. Spain recently announced that it was opening a new agency in A Coruña to oversee AI, becoming the first EU country to do so. Meanwhile in Brussels, the EU has been looking into amendments to the AI Act, which proposes regulating the technology based on the potential harm that it can cause. For some there is an urgent need to stop the technology from being used in potentially dangerous ways, such as predictive policing.

“Civil society is demanding that the use of some technologies should be completely prohibited because they pose unacceptable risks that no safeguard measure could ever prevent,” Elena Bizzi, thematic programmes co-ordinator for migration and asylum at the Euromed Rights organisation, tells The Monocle Minute. “These technologies include predictive analytic systems used to curtail and prevent migration, and systems that use AI to assess whether people on the move present a ‘risk’ of unlawful activity or security threats, which are inherently discriminatory.”


Breaking new ground

There are fashion shows and then there are spectacles that mix savoir-faire, modernist architecture, exquisite production, fresh silhouettes and more than 60 models – all set in Dakar with the glittering Atlantic as a backdrop. Monocle had a host of editors in the Senegalese capital yesterday as Chanel showcased its Métiers d’art 2022/23 collection. With veterans of fashion shows in the mix, it’s safe to say that in recent decades the industry has rarely seen something quite so ambitious and powerful.

The show was hosted at the modernist former Palais de Justice and was a celebration of the brand’s 11 ateliers, ranging from renowned embroiderer Lesage to hat-maker Maison Michel, now all housed at the fashion house’s impressive le19M building in Paris. The Dakar event was the first time that Chanel has presented a show in Africa. The label has spent more than three years connecting with the city’s artisans and creatives, including rapper Nix and Franco-Senegalese dancer-choreographer Germaine Acogny. The show’s effect on Senegal’s vibrant cultural scene will resonate far beyond December. Chanel is planning an international programme from next year that will see it partner with Senegalese organisations including the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire to help foster new entrepreneurial activities. With a soulful soundtrack from the Sault collective and a dazzled crowd, the Dakar showcase was a roaring success.

Image: Shutterstock


Net gains

In the race to be the biggest fish in the US market, Norwegian salmon is swimming ahead. New figures show that the US is now its top consumer. Exports to the country, measured by value, grew by 83 per cent year on year. Ten years ago, the US was only 10th in the list of markets to which Norway exported the fish. Among the reasons for the boost in sales are a weaker krona, which has made Norwegian salmon cheaper for American consumers, and increased demand for salmon due to the rise in popularity of sushi and poké bowls.

Despite Norway’s gains, Chile remains the biggest salmon exporter to the US, with 56 per cent of the market share. But experts are keen to point out that the South American nation doesn’t have a natural geographical advantage: the distance between Santiago and Miami is roughly the same as from Oslo to the Floridian city. Norway, already a major global player when it comes to salmon, has its sights set.

Image: Blue Chair Film Festival


Picture perfect

The Blue Chair Film Festival kicks off in Luang Prabang tomorrow, running until 11 December. Founded in 2009, it has the distinction of taking place in a city without a cinema: the whole of Laos has only four. The festival draws international visitors and locals who line up to catch films on a huge outdoor screen. “The age range is probably two to 95 – everyone comes to the movies,” Sean Chadwell, the festival’s executive director, tells The Monocle Minute.

The festival is an annual showcase of Southeast Asian films with a special spotlight on Laos’s auteurs. Its emerging film-makers fund and talent lab also help to finance productions in the region. “The way we structure events around the festival is to give artists a lot of time to just hang out and meet audiences,” says Chadwell. Despite the city’s lack of a cinema, its flagship film festival knows how to draw an audience.

Image: Emile Holba

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Culture

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Monocle Films / London

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