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3rd Mekong Hero 2023

1 st Mekong Hero 2020

Mr. Brian Linden

Founder & Owner, The Linden Centre

Born and raised in Chicago and educated at Johns Hopkins and Stanford University, Brian was granted a scholarship to study in Beijing in 1984 and spent the following three years in China.   He moved to Dali in 2004 with his wife and two sons. There, he preserved a nationally protected Bai-style courtyard house built in 1948. He converted this into The Linden Centre to create a sustainable model of tourism development and heritage preservation.

Now, the Linden Centre has six sites, each focusing on preserving existing historical traditions by incorporating the villagers in the planning and managing heritage hotels.

Brian’s approach is to show the benefits of heritage protection and sustainability through example. He inspires his communities to preserve their heritage and reevaluate their sustainability approach. Through this bottom-up approach, the Linden Centre demonstrates how a social business can be financially sustainable and resilient, as well as helping the government recognize the social benefits for locals.

Brian Linden with tribal ladies
Brian Linden with traditional sculpture

The Linden Centre was founded in 2008 by American couple Brian and Jeanee Linden in response to the pervasive destruction of China’s tangible and intangible cultural resources. The Lindens had been residents in China off and on since 1984, and their respect for China’s cultural traditions inspired them to create an alternative hospitality model. They gave up their jobs, sold their home in America, and searched throughout China for two years alongside their two young sons to find a heritage site that could be restored and serve as a foundation for community development and cultural pride. Their first site, the nationally protected heritage compound named after its builder Yang Pingxiang, quickly became a beloved destination for guests who wanted more than a newly constructed hotel isolated from its surrounding culture. The Lindens remain the only foreigners to revitalize important national heritage structures in China.

In the decade since its inception, the Linden Centre has welcomed over 25,000 Chinese and foreign guests, including many ambassadors to China, corporate executives, national and provincial leaders, and internationally renowned artists and movie stars. These guests come to the Centre to delve further into the traditions of the local community and to learn from our innovative programming on topics such as the Spirit and History of Travel, Photography, Filmmaking, Culinary Arts (housed in our Xizhou Culinary School), Bird-watching, Environmental Protection Issues, and Yoga.

Video about Mr. Brian Linden


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