For the Atlantic, James Fallows profiles Brian Linden, an American living in Yunnan where he and his wife are involved with a project to restore the town of Xizhou and make it a cultural and tourist center:
Linden’s parents had run an antique shop in Chicago, and through the 1990s Brian and Jeanee built an Asian-arts-and-antiques business. They spent much of each year traveling to Asian villages to buy paintings, furniture, and objets, which they then sold in the summertime at a gallery in the upscale resort community of Door County, Wisconsin. All the while, Linden says, they were looking for something more—a place where they could build a cultural center that would preserve and honor Chinese arts and handicrafts and, they hoped, provide a haven for creative artists from around the world.
Throughout my time in China, I was attracted to dreamers—to people, Chinese and foreign, with big plans for what they’d like to achieve in the country. This is no doubt what drew me to the Lindens when I met them in Beijing last year and what led our families to become friends. After they had spent years considering locations, including three years in which they home-schooled their two young sons in hotel rooms, they found what they were looking for. (The two boys, now ages 13 and 10, are still being home-schooled.) They sold their house in America and put the proceeds into a derelict four-courtyard compound in the Yunnan village of Xizhou.
Watch Fallows’ slideshow of Xizhou and the Lindens’ project:
Learn more about the Linden Center via their website.