I confess to being a Monocle addict. It all started with my enjoyment around following the career of Tyler Brule – the Canadian (Winnipeg) who started Wallpaper, still does write on the back-page of the salmon coloured FT (easy to find if you live with someone who reads many newspapers and has a intricate filing system for what to save and what to recycle) – the column is called: The Fast Lane. Anyway Tyler rants often about urban issues and why our cities don’t meet at least some modest standards of “good experiences” for residents and visitors.
So I wait each month for Monocle – and the July/August 09 issues is all about Monocle’s The Most Liveable Cities Index ( www.monocle.com )which is in its second year. They evaluated cities on a number of criteria – this year they added some interesting criteria like chain store pollution (the number of international brand food outlets and retailers vs the total mix (e.g. Starbucks, Zara)), ease of opening a business and major infrastructure improvements.
The top five cities are: Zurich, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Munich and Helsinki. Vancouver is number 14 (slipping – we were number 8 last year) and Montreal is number 19. You might accuse Monocle of being Euro or Asia-centric – Honolulu was the only US city to make the list.
So a few tidbits to tempt you to read Monocle (at least this issue)…
· Melbourne (#9) is the first city outside Italy to gain a Slow Food Designation.
· It takes 15-30 days to start a business in Madrid (#12).
· Munich (#4) has 1,200 km of bike paths and more to come. Deutsche Bahn has a call-a-bike scheme where you can rent a bike for 8 cents a minute or 9 euros a day.
· In Singapore (#18) it only takes minutes to register a new company online.
· Montreal (#19) ranked first in North America for competitive operating costs.
· In Barcelona (#15) solar panels are obligatory now in every new building.
· Vancouver (#14) has 1 Zara and 120 Starbucks (!!) — whereas Paris (#8) has 6 Zara and 34 Starbucks.
What I like about these kinds of surveys (not that they aren’t fairly subjective on a number of fronts) is that they provide pointers to places where we can learn from each other. I picked up quite a bit of information from the little summaries of the Cities that I can use. Especially useful is their info on how “business-friendly” these liveable cities are.
The Editors did pick up on Vancouver’s Greenest City activities – about us claiming to North America’s greenest! So it is out there.
Monocle is pushy and in your face – at the end of each City description, there is a “Monocle fix” – Vancouver’s is: “ignore the border: forge tighter business, cultural and transport links with Seattle and Portland.” I’ll second that and will write more on that in the Fall.
It is a rainy day today – so may have more posts in August – weather dependent. I am supposed to be un-plugged. City, region, design, collaboration discussions to be continued.