What the project aims to achieve is the recognition of the Great Wall as a living ecosystem, showing a different picture of the Wall, namely not the architectural nor historical sight, instead the human and natural ecosystem, exploring human activities in the area and understanding how they interact with the natural environment and the Wall and how these three elements are or can become mutually beneficial. During the fieldwork there will be a comprehensive observation and collection of information about the cultural peculiarities and natural uniqueness of the ecosystem. The project aims at correctly produce an innovative interpretation of the issue itself.

While travelling along the provinces, another purpose will be that of exploring Sino-European cultural relations through a bottom-up approach, showing that cooperation between two passionate foreigners and local long-established communities can be mutually beneficial, especially if the common aim is the conservation of an ecosystem, which is also a world heritage. Increase awareness on the importance of conservation, sustainable development, tourism sustainability, value and respect of local cultures, and on the close ties between nature and cultural heritage is another main goal. This goes well along with the aim of fostering Great Wall ecosystem environmental preservation through sharing positive practices and new solutions abiding from mutual dialogue and common experiences. Collecting and sharing views, tools, experience and examples of various local communities on development opportunities while respecting and conserving the environment, in order to conduct sustainable activities. 

All of this will be made stressing the splendor and variety of rural local cultures in China, less famous than touristic sights, nonetheless characterized by an equally relevant cultural heritage, fostering their conservation. Understanding whether habits, food, typical products, myths and beliefs of various communities living along different spots of the Wall share similarities due to this common characteristic; in other terms, the goal consists of understanding whether the Ming Dynasty Wall has been a “Great Road” connecting and influencing distant communities living along it. We intend to encourage this new study approach integration to existing ones.

At the end of the day, inspiring explorers and dreamers of all ages, showing that even small steps may have a positive impact on a wider community, is the final reason why this initiative came to life. The aim is to show that the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is not just a common saying, instead it can become true with the right balance between passion, reason and preparation.



The Great Wall Protectors: Meet Li Dewang

2020-09-13 11:13

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The Great Wall Protectors: Meet Li Dewang

The Great Wall Protectors (长城保护员): Meet Li Dewang (李德旺)



Li Dewang is one of the Great Wall Protectors, he has been patrolling the Xuliukou section for 12 years.



Li Dewang, 李德旺, is a 63-year-old man living in Xuliukou Village (Hebei). Mr Li spent the last 12 years to patrol 3 kilometers of the Xuliukou (徐流口村) section of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

He cleans rubbish and weeds, reminds tourists and shepherds to preserve the site, and he records and reports damages to the local cultural relics protection department.

In summer 2020 he found a relic dating back to the Ming Dynasty: it is a stele, but not just a common one, it is “the best preserved and the oldest Great Wall inscription ever found along the section of the Qian'an Great Wall” (Xinhuanet.com).




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