Jeanee Linden on NPR Public Radio

Rebuilding “Happy Town”

By Virginia Prescotton Thursday, October 15, 2009.

We recently discovered a story by James Fallows who is in China as national correspondent for The Atlantic. His story involved an American family and a crumbling compound in the Yunnan village of Xizhou, which roughly translates to “happy town.”

Brian and Jeanee Linden have operated a gallery that sells Asian art and antiques in Wisconsin for the past 14 years. Two years ago, they sold their house in Madison and moved with their two children to China, where they’ve finished restoring the derelict compound, and opened it up to the public for lodging and retreats.

Their effort illuminates a much larger debate about China’s paths to development. One model is based on conventional big-bus tourism, with restaurants and gift shops to serve the photo-snapping masses. The other path preserves and venerates traditional Chinese arts, architecture and creative energy.

We talk more about the latter approach with our guest Jeanee Linden, who runs the Linden Center in Xizhou.

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