Learning something new in Coniston Institute
Learning something new in Coniston Institute

Back here in blighty Lisa and I are getting worried that you're getting worried that you've sudenly got to put the world right before you get back. Maybe this has something to do, even in such an offcentre location, that the artist is going to help or be helpful, or, it seems as tourists. On the other hand if you were just folk from another village come to see how they do it.

It looks as if the contrast between old and new is ever more hightended than when we first visited two years ago - is there another hotel as well as the Orange House? You've used the word 'poor' a few times in relation to the village, which is quite a shock, both in relation to our new ideas of China and also from what I remember of the last village trip, when I never thought of the village that way, only that they were happy enough but looking to be happioer still. Whether that's clouded by Shangri-La, the slow food movemet and proto-post-colonial theory or the promises of mass tourism have sewn a promiscuous seed I'll let you tell me; but I always thought it might be that we can learn much from Nanling about what is important back home. With regard to the heroism of labour and the pleasure of leisure do we have to rethink our ideas on tourism.

I was thinking that maybe it is worth thinking about the library or a version of it. Coniston library in the village (part of the old Ruskin founded Institute) is to be cut free from being council run and will somehow have to re-invent what it does and how it does it. Perhaps this could tie in with the new Lawson Park library and even a similar thing for Nanling - eduaction/remote English/folk musuem/ and so on, like a educational honesty stall network. There has been recent success in China (at least from an economic view) of the franchised British School, so maybe it would be possible to create a grass roots version of this in villages - like the idea of the super night classes for Coniston we talked of, where Nicholas Bourriaud and Stephen Hawking come to deliver the odd art and physics classes. If Nanling became such a rich place then could it then offer a new kind of tourismwhere you went to learn and teach. Ecobrain tourism.Then again they might just want to be left alone.


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