Of all the hopes, fears, plans and possibilities we had in mind creating our second issue, the central idea was simple: do better. Thankful as we were (and continue to be) for the enthusiastic and encouraging response we’ve received, we’ve taken that support as a sign to push further, to grow and evolve rather than become comfortable and proud. I’d like to pinpoint two important parts we aimed to do ‘better’ in and share some of the thinking behind the title of this issue.
Digital and Subscriptions
The Alpine Review is a lean back experience, a moment to disconnect. At the same time, we realize that it’s not the lightest of reading materials to carry around. We also think that there’s great value in how all of our topics connect together. For those reasons, we are now offering ‘digital’ versions of the magazine and new formats of subscription which include exclusive access to the website where all the content will be available and properly interlinked. You’ll be able to keep ar in your pocket and search through our articles more effectively.
Originally, we had a rather romantic idea of travelling to a different city for each issue, diving into the culture and identity and pulse of the place, making connections and building our content with our new neighbourhood, the city flavour seeping-in through-out the issue. But, life and a lot of work intervened and grounded us figuratively and literally. We realized that simply visiting a city, as interesting as it might be for us, was still just a run-of-the-mill city profile, likely done elsewhere and probably better than we could hope to achieve, at least with current resources. And frankly, there are only so many Berlins. That is, places that so perfectly embody what we want the alpine review to stand for.
So, we’ve taken off our blinders and now focus on ‘places.’ Of course, a city can be a place, but a place isn’t necessarily a city. They can be small-scale, even intimate. This inclusive view lets us choose geographical embodiments of our interests based on fit, not size. Case in point, we have started with two smallish ones, a pocket-sized island carrying big ideas and an architect’s dream spliced into a 17th century villa, bustling with creative energy.
We’ve picked places for embodying the ideas, curiosities and passions we share here. Because as much as the network of people and ideas we observe, meet, document and love are everywhere, not found in any single city or country, so are the places hosting those people and ideas found throughout the world. Those places are the disjointed parts of a networked society, a composite city at the core of our things that matter.
We usually refer to the first word on our cover as the ‘theme,’ which is a little misleading. It’s more fitting to use the term ‘title.’ Rather than the foundation for our research, it is the wisdom gleaned from it. In other words, we don’t guide stories to fit a theme, we find a title that encapsulates the issue. In this case, that title, framing or theme showed itself as Returns. Due in part to the fact that we are finally returning after a longer-than-expected absence, but much more because it represents a feeling, an atmosphere which has been showing up time and again in our day-to-day, during our research and in sourcing and editing the various articles and interviews found within.
In this choice of words there is probably some flavour or sheen of nostalgia, but we are not really pining for what was there with no regard for recent accomplishments. Rather than sentimentality, it arose from a sober realization that perhaps we have too much of some things, or have gone a bit too far down certain paths. Did we need to industrialize our food supply this much? Or automate production to this scale? Do we need this much consumption? So much profit on Wall Street? So much deregulation of industries and over-regulation of people? So much hidden agendas and exploited personal privacy? We, as a society, have grown dependent on too many things. Since, as Flavie Halais put it, “fixing one’s addictive tendencies begins with looking at one’s past.” We are proposing that taking a look back, finding what is appropriate, finding opportunities for “taking things away,” as Jacques Pépin put it, is a very worthy exercise.
I’ve heard said that old solutions aren’t really good anymore because, by definition, they were beaten by something else. Fair enough, I guess. But it also depends who was the judge of this obsoletion. And, looking around, who today would argue that there isn’t need for some realignment of metrics? That ‘winning’ solutions, ideas and techniques were actually doped-up and that a new leader board might be in order?
Whether it’s through articles exploring alternate forms of craft striving for ‘betterness’ in their design, rediscovering the old roots of a city and it’s identity, flourishing informal economies and enterprises, back-to-basics teachings with The School of Life or rethinking our view of trauma and medicines, it seems a good time for many to take a few steps back. Looking back, finding inspiration in old solutions or simpler times, finding what’s appropriate and inventing a better now and better future.