James Fallows introduces readers of The Atlantic to Brian and Jeanee Linden, a couple who are trying to turn Xizhou Ancient City in Yunnan into a lush, environmentally friendly haven for traditional Chinese arts and handicrats as well as for creative artists around the world:
In Xizhou, the Lindens worked with party officials to secure something rarely accorded foreigners: the right to use a “Class A” historical relic and restore it—its tiling, wooden arches and fretwork, painted murals. The buildings survived the 1960s because a People’s Liberation Army detachment had encamped there, keeping out the Red Guards. The Lindens have invested their savings in the faith that the rest of the town will be restored in similar taste—as local officials assure them—making the Linden Centre and Xizhou an internationally appealing cultural destination.
We wish them success – we too are sick of the damaging and boring old model of tourism in this country = troupes of buses which stop at “famous” sites that have been redeveloped into kitschy, gift-shop-heavy, character-lacking tourist hubs.