30. 12. 2009

Deset nejčtenějších článků za rok 2009

Podobně jako loni vybíráme desítku příspěvků, které se těšily největší návštěvnosti. Co se nejvíc líbilo vám? A co vám tu chybělo? Na vaše přání, doporučení a vzkazy se těšíme v komentářích.

  1. Co se změní v kině Art?
    Nejčtenějším - a to i díky vašim diskusním komentářům - byl jednoznačně? text zkoumající pozadí kauzy okolo kina Art

  2. Photo contest for Brno expats: send us your pictures
    Fotografická soutěž pro brněnské expaty ještě pokračuje. Poslali nějakou fotku vaši kolegové a známí? Už mají čas jen do Silvestra!

  3. Hledají se vizionáři pro Jižní centrum
    Na článek o Jižním centrum Evy Staňkové navázala nakonec celá série o Jižním centru od Michala Hadlače

  4. Brno twitteruje z Muzejní noci a Noci kejklířů: připojte se
    Již podruhé jsme organizovali twitter zpravodajství z Muzejní noci. Letos za účasti např. Martina Reinera, Jiřího Duška aj.

  5. Porota Brnopolis vybrala počiny roku

  6. Hledáme brněnský počin roku
    Připomeňme si, co naše porota vybrala za Brněnský počin roku 2008

  7. V Brně s kávou a s wifi
    Článek-stálice Michala Šedivého o brněnských kavárnách s bezdrátovým internet připojením

  8. Kam lze zajít naslepo: Výtopna
    Jeden ze série článku o místech, Kam zajít naslepo od Richarda Lanka

  9. Česká média po roce 1989
    Rozhovor Jana Perly s Jaromírem Volkem jako příspěvek do diskuse k cyklu Úsvit v Čechách - Kabinet Havel

  10. Kavárny v Brně. Co v nich hledáme?
    Zamyšlení Vlastimila Veselého o fenoménu kaváren v Brně

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29. 12. 2009

What do creative expats need? And what the locals hosting foreign partners?

What are the difficulties you face as an individual living and working in Brno or as a company doing business here (if you are an expatriate)? And what if you are a Czech and build relations with foreign partners?

What concrete services (provided by the city or an NGO) would you appreciate as an individual living and working in Brno or as a company doing business here?

This month Brnopolis organised a meeting focused on the needs of international players active in Brno and on the services helping Brno expats in creative industries and professions. Fourteen participants included international companies employing significant number of expats, local organisations running frequent international activities and also the representatives of the City Council Strategy Office and the South Moravian Center for International Mobility.

There is still a chance to incorporate your experience, needs and suggestions into the summary we are putting together. Just be descriptive and concrete as much as possible and send us your feedback to the questions above by Friday, January 8 at info(at)brnopolis(dot)eu. The final document will be sent to all parties involved.

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21. 12. 2009

What expats in Brno say: Lack of customer service and friendliness

Nathan Brown, born and raised in Western Canada, came to Brno with his wife (also Canadian) in early 2004. He owns the business CZECH POINT 101 which offers property services to foreign and local investors.

What do you like about Brno?

My wife and I have always loved a number of things about Brno but I will state just a few.

One is the excellent public transport system. Coming from Canada where infrastructure is based on everyone having a car, we found it refreshing not needing one. If required, we would rent a car. This is something which is really exceptional about Brno and perhaps also for other parts of Europe which we don’t experience in Canada. Now we have two children so a car has become necessary but it was only a purchase in the last three months and we lived happily without one for over 5 years.

The cost of some things are very reasonable here. Food is much cheaper, whether at restaurants or grocery stores. A high end meal here is about 1/3 less than a similar quality meal in Canada. The service is still not to the same level as Canada but overall the experience is quite good. Health care is also much cheaper and of good quality.

The Czech countryside is very beautiful. I love road biking and the roads here are very interesting and there is an endless possibility of routes in the countryside on roads which are rarely used. Along the way it is possible to eat fresh fruit right off your bike!

What you don't like about Brno?

As expressed by some other foreigners, we have found the lack of customer service and friendliness at times quite shocking. We try not to dwell on it now but when we first moved here we would have usually an ‘experience of the week’ where we would have some terrible experience, whether at the Post Office, at a local grocery store, on public transport or elsewhere.

My wife has had particularly bad experiences on public transport (and part of the reason we bought a car) as she tried to navigate with two children on them. On more than one occasion she had the door shut on her as she was in the middle of moving a baby carriage (pram) in or out of the tram, even though she was in full sight of the driver and had pushed the baby carriage button.

On another occasion it was last stop for a tram and she purposely didn’t push the baby carriage button because there was a clear line of site from the driver to the back of the tram, no one else on the tram and she thought the ringing might be irritating for the driver. After she got off the driver proceeded to come out of the tram, make a big scene and yell at her for not pushing the button. She said it was difficult to explain to our two year old afterward why this man yelled at her.

Our two year old always liked to wave at tram or bus drivers after getting off the bus but in the probably close to 50 times I have been with him when he did this he only got a wave back 2 or 3 times. Most chose to ignore him. This is also hard to explain to a two year old.

Do you know some “best practices” or experience from living in other cities which could be of use in Brno, too?

While we are rarely out late these days, we do find it fairly strange that public transport goes to almost no options after 11 pm. Half an hour between buses is really a long time.

Also, government offices which regularly deal with foreigners, such as the foreign police, should at least have someone in the office who speaks English and that they are willing to try to help with the communication.

What do you think is its advantage compared with other cities?

Brno feels like a small city. I am not sure what it is but it seems very easy to get around and get things done (during the day). My wife and I both find Prague very exhausting even if there with visitors. It is so busy and takes a lot of effort to move between locations.

Where do you see the way how to make Brno more open and attractive for foreigns (expats)?

It has gotten better and better since we have been here but one of the biggest things would be to have more English speaking staff in shops, offices, etc. It is true that we are living in Czech Republic but it is also a matter of hospitality and good business sense to have English speaking staff if your business is frequented by foreigners.

What place in Brno you think is really unique and should be more promoted?

We live close to the path along the Svratka river and this is really a wonderful place to bike, walk or roller blade. It does get quite busy in the summer so maybe I shouldn’t promote it more!

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4. 12. 2009

What expats in Brno say: Filth at the main railway station

Diliana Neikova, from Bulgaria, has been studying fifth year of architecture at University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia. She came to Brno in September 2009 to study at Faculty of Architecture of Brno University of Technology via the Erasmus student exchange program.

What do you like and what don’t you like about Brno?

Well, as a future architect, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by Brno's human scale (knowing it is the second biggest city in Czech Republic). I would definitely never have expected it to be so calm and with such lovely natural surroundings close by. And of course the system of transport is really impressive, but I guess this is a thing everybody praises.

Although what I really dislike for example is the filth in some places – like at the main railway station and even on náměstí Svobody. I know that it depends on the people living and visiting the city but this is a bad first impression.

Do you know some “best practices” or experience from living in other cities that could be of use in Brno, too?

I would recommend more careful restoration of the buildings so that they would not lose their charm. Also becoming more pedestrian and cycling friendly. One short example – I’m always afraid of crossing from tram stop Česká towards Česká street and náměstí Svobody and I can only imagine what it would be like if I had a little child crossing with me.

What do you think is Brno’s advantage compared with other cities?

It’s calm. You can see everything without the stressful crowds and you can visit so many interesting places close to Brno with public transport – no car needed. It’s also a great place to observe different styles in architecture and their development.

How can Brno become more open and attractive for foreigners?

What I dislike is that when you try to talk to local people in English they pretty often ignore you or treat you in a not very nice way – after all not everybody speaks Czech, but for example I really try and when somebody treats me like that I am really disappointed. The opening times of pubs and shops can also be considered difficult, because if you come to visit on weekends you can usually only go to malls and they definitely don't have the traditional spirit of Brno – they are exactly the same everywhere. I also think that Brno needs more advertising, because when you look for travel destinations in the Czech Republic you always see Praha.

What’s your favorite place in Brno, somewhere that’s really unique?

I really like the garden under Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral – Denisovy sady.

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2. 12. 2009

What expats in Brno say: More space for pedestrians and cyclists

Sandra Dudek, born and raised in Austria, came to the Czech Republic in 2001 because of love, but not, as in many other cases, because of a person: it was the Czech language she fell in love with. Graduated in communication sciences and Czech studies at the University of Vienna, she worked as a teacher of the German language at Charles University in Prague as well as a journalist for Prager Zeitung and the German radio station Radio Prague. In 2006 Sandra moved to Brno; since then she has been working as the Director of the Brno branch of the Österreich Institut, the official Austrian language school abroad.

What do you like and what don’t you like in Brno?

What I like the most is that Brno is like a little Vienna. To be serious: I like the size of Brno – my home, work and the locations for spare time activities are all within a walking distance. The farmers' market at Zelný trh is an absolute highlight as well as the small but well-cultivated arthouse cinema-scene (Kino Art Brno and Scala). Brno is a lively small town, not least inspired by thousands of students, which can also be seen in the individually designed cafés and pubs around the town. I like the great cultural heritage, especially the Functionalist oriented buildings, and how it naturally coexists beside modern buildings (e.g. at Náměstí republiky).

My sympathy for Brno is definitely challenged on Friday afternoon when I go by overcrowded tram no. 1 to the also overcrowded station, surrounded by people snubbing me. The public transport system works very well, but it is really hard to understand why the municipality takes so little effort to improve the situation of too few trams for too many people and to clear more space for pedestrians and cyclists – more and more cars are parking on pavements and the newly reconstructed Husová street is conspicuous by the absence of bicycle paths.

Do you know some “best practices” or experience from living in other cities that could be of use in Brno, too?

The best practice has its source in another attitude. Concerning traffic that means "humans first" (and not "cars first"): in Vienna, Zurich and many other cities, pedestrians, cyclists and passengers of public transport take absolute priority over car drivers – they have to stop in front of tram stops, so that people can easily get on and off a tram without doing slaloms; changing from one line to another does not include 5 minutes waiting at the traffic light or searching for it around the corner; pavements are reserved for what they are meant to be and are not extended streets and parking places with a half metre strip for walking (see e.g. on and around Veveří street).

A lot has changed in the last few years, but there is still great potential for improving the supply and quality of services at the station, in the buses, in restaurants, in shops ... A friendly "No, I’m sorry, but the chocolate cakes are sold out today" in itself offers a bit of comfort, and a "Good bye!" combined with a nice smile hurts no-one and makes life so much easier.

What do you think is Brno’s advantage compared with other cities?

Brno is not overrun by tourists and therefore it is not anxious to please at all costs: buildings are lovingly reconstructed and serve people for working, living and spending their spare time and are not turned into tourist hot spots or museums. The city is small, but it combines everything you need for a varied life: good (international) job facilities, individually designed cafés and bars, excellent book shops (if your Czech is good enough), some nice places where you can relax and at the same time enjoy a pleasant view out over the town, and the wonderful surroundings of southern Moravia for short weekend trips.

How can Brno become more open and attractive for foreigners?

As written above, a modern city should not lack in bicycle paths and good services/customer relations. Doctors who speak a foreign language and treat their patients with respect make a visit (not only by foreigners) more comfortable/human. Also policemen, immigration officers and tax authorities should be able (or at least willing) to communicate in another language than Czech.

What’s your favorite place in Brno, somewhere that’s really unique?

Kraví hora and Wilsonův les (Wilson Wood) are wonderful places for jogging, taking a walk, playing frisbee or lying on a blanket on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Café Spolek (where you can read the German weekly Die Zeit) in Orlí or Salon Daguerre in Slovákova are great cafés for hanging out and the "Avia" restaurant serves delicious meals Mediterranean-style for reasonable prices. And don't forget to stop at the farmers' market at Zelný trh these days to buy a pumpkin.

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