Barcelona’s Best Export Isn’t Tapas, It’s the ‘Ramblas’: Urban Boulevards of Oasis

I have a soft spot for the charming Mediterranean city of Barcelona, because it’s where I spent my junior year of university when I swapped New England’s Boston College for two semesters for Catalunya’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra.  And I realized in my last visit a few weeks ago that one of the most seductive traits of this high-quality of life city is it’s urban layout and specifically the ‘ramblas phenomenon.’ What is a rambla? Very simply a ‘rambla’ is an urban boulevard, which seamlessly blends together pedestrians, buses, taxis, cars and scooters in a safe, calm and very walkable layout, which has the feel of tying together the loose ends of a neighborhood: the sides-streets, alleys, passage-ways into an elegant boulevard for everyone in the city to use, tying together the city’s urban and social fiber into an urban pod of oasis. Roughly speaking this is what an rambla looks like if you are standing right in the middle, facing north and to your east and west you have the buildings and sidewalks of either side of the street. 1. the rambla: is a wide pavement in the center of the street like a 30-foot wide sidewalk.  Instead of having a huge urban boulevard with four car-lanes.  The rambla is the center point taking over 50% of the width of the street. 2. traffic lanes: then there are two traffic lanes, one one each of the rambla, the one to your east for example with one-lane of auto traffic: buses, taxis, scooters, cars – quietly (at 25mph or less) heading in the northbound direction AND on the other side of...

The Greek Brain Drain + Attica Riviera = Global Niche Conferences

Over 200,000 young professionals have left Greece over the past six years in the highly lamented Greek brain drain. In the fragmented globalized world we live in where many opportunities and career growth are usually to be found in select global cities – this seems like this migration is inevitable anyway. The on-going financial downturn simply amplified the phenomenon. Young professionals across the world leave their local cities and small towns everyday, from inland China to try their luck in Shanghai or from Pennsylvania to strike opportunities in NYC. What is the right question to ask: Diaspora engagement and ‘brain circulation’ I think the question for Greeks, diaspora and philhellenes is not how do we bring these 200,000 (and counting) people back – the question is how do we engage them in the new global transnational cultural and economic models unraveling in our generation? Global Conferences The topic I’d like to talk about here, since I work in this industry, is conferences. I’m a conference producer in London and I’m fascinated by the high-quality niche conferences throughout the world which professionals flock to, to learn from innovative case-studies, network with others from their ‘professional tribes’, recruit talent and pursue investment deals. From the Web Summit in Ireland, Aspen Ideas Festival, to Cannes Lions, SxSW in Austin, Davos, Milken Institute, mobile conferences in Barcelona, gaming conferences in Finland and consumer electronics conferences in Las Vegas, there are many high-quality gatherings where thousands flock to on annual pilgrimages. The Web Summit alone is reckoned to bring $130 million annually into the Dublin economy. I read an article recently by Gillian Tett...