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Imagine you are a farmer. Your daddy was a farmer, and your grand-daddy was a farmer. You hope your son will be a farmer, because farming has been a good living for your family. Then one day your neighbour drills a hole and starts pouring sewage into it, ruining your ground-water. That would really piss you off, wouldn’t it?

Now imagine you run a tourism business. Your advertising shows a quaint, Colonial town, with low, Georgian buildings, narrow streets and plenty of trees and gardens. Then one day, your neighbours start construction of huge, multi-storey buildings, ruining the character of your “historic” town and threatening your tourism business. Would that piss you off?

Surprisingly, the answer from everyone I’ve asked has been “No!”

Am I over-reacting? Or are we just not concerned about the health of our economy? Montreal relocated its Downtown to save its historic district, today a major part of its tourism offering. The same is true for New Orleans, Miami Beach, Greenville SC and Havana. Panama has preserved both the oldest settlement on the Pacific, Panama Viejo, and Historic Panama, both touristic treasures. Perhaps it is time for us to first define, and then protect the heritage we talk so much about, but seem completely disinterested in preserving.

January, 2016

 

 

 

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