- A letter to Monocle editor-
Dear Mr. Tyler Brule,
Each month, I look forward to receiving the latest Monocle issue. It is a magazine that the literary world was lacking: a global magazine that keeps modern citizens informed about under-broadcasted issues and feeds our imagination.
What sets the Monocle particularly apart from other magazines is its continuous focus on life enriching matters. This approach is also recognizable in the Quality of Life Survey of the July/August edition. I was disappointed to see no mentioning of my home town Amsterdam.
It seems like Amsterdam was not even considered. With its 100th electrical car charging point planted last March, the walk-and-bike friendly infrastructure, classic and modern architecture, lively cultural scene, the only downside of Amsterdam is a lack of sun and glamour.
Please find below the city information sheet. With this information, I humbly ask for your opinion about Amsterdam’s ranking on your list. And if you or one of your team members wish to experience Amsterdam first hand, I would be honoured to be your guide.
Population: 767.773 inhabitants. Greater Amsterdam Area; 1.35 million.
International flights: 301 destinations, of which 139 are intercontinental.
Crime: murders: 16, domestic break-ins: 73.433
LIA fix: Make convicts repair the Afsluitdijk – that will keep them busy and away from our city.
Sunshine: annual average 1524
LIA fix: Use rain dispersal rockets to keep Amsterdam dryer.
Temperatures: average high in July 23C; average low in January, 6C.
LIA fix: License people to sell warm green pea soup, roasted chestnuts, hot-cocoa on the streets; it will make the cold more bareable.
Green space: in 2006: 38 sqm per person.
LIA fix: Make some patches of green (pot-)smoke-free.
Water space: ¼ of the 219 sqkm of Amsterdam is water.
LIA question: are the Amsterdam Water Managers really aiming to make the canals ‘swimmers-friendly’?
Medical Care: Standards of healthcare in the Netherlands are typically very high.
LIA fix: Ban the ‘home birth’ habit and provide anesthesia during labour.
Emergency Services: in 75% the ambulance is within 6 minutes at its destination. In case of heart failure, fire arms can help out, reducing the ‘waiting time’ till 4 minutes.
State Education: Education is free all the way to university. Private schools are not common. There are two universities and many more colleges, resulting in 93.000 students living in Amsterdam.
LIA fix: Change the Dutch work culture to strive for excellence instead of mediocrity. The Dutch economy heavily relies on having superior knowledge and skills.
Unemployment rate: from 4.7% in 2009 to 6.5 % in 2010
LIA fix: Make it easier for employers to lay people off; the current rulings make it too risky to hire people.
How easy is it to start a business? It takes 1 hour to start a business
Public transport: price of cheapest tram ticket E2.60
LIA fix: Have students from the Conservatory liven up the moody ambiance in the trams and metro's. This will also make the high ticket price worth it and give the students ‘stage’ experience in return.
Cycling: 40% of all transport occurs by bike. The city counts 400 km of dedicated bike lanes.
LIA fix: Bring back the ‘white bike’ sharing plan.
Electric car charging points: 60 plus 40 for mopeds/motorcycles.
LIA tip: Contact the municipality if you need a charging point in your street.
Architecture: From the stately canal houses of the Golden Age in the city center to modern architecture on newly reclaimed land east of Central station, there is plenty of architecture to admire.
Culture: Amsterdam’s reputation as a City of Festivals is just with around 75 annual festivals. In 2010, Pan Amsterdam attracted 46,129 visitors. The Van Gogh museum welcomed 1.4 million visitors and the Concertgebouw is the most visited concert building in the world.
Tolerance: The Netherlands is the first country to allow same sex marriages, which are by law equal to man-women marriages since 2001.There are continuous debates and attempts to integrate the Dutch with the ‘new’ Dutch; ie.(offspring of) immigrants.
LIA fix!! 01. Focus on the positive sides of diversity. 02. Create a true city identity to be proud of, transcending one’s cultural background or sexual orientation.
Drinking and shopping: In the city center, shops are open daily till 18h00. Large supermarkets are open from 8-22h. Most bars stay open till 1h00/02h00 in weekends. Clubs till 03h00 respectively 04h00
Chain test: H&M: 11 Starbucks: 2
LIA fix: Marks & Spencer, Banana Republic, Gap and Intimissimi really need to open a branches here.