JLD 02 - 10 - 2010

We've witnessed many sustainable buildings on this trip but the question of a sustainable culture has also been raised. Yesterday, outside of Luxor, Egypt, we rode camels through an indigenous village comprised mostly of mud brick homes. We took part in this experience to attempt to see a culture completely different than the cities we've been to that are focused on tourism. We discussed the mud brick homes that are made entirely of local materials like mud and papyrus, and how these types of buildings are perfect for the setting because they are naturally cooled and do not need to be waterproof because it never rains. I thought about how buildings like this are sustainable but I wonder if this "indigenous" culture is really going to last or if it is also going to be dependent on tourism in another decade. We rode camels through this village to see how differently these people live from us but they have electricity, cell phones, and satellite dishes. Some of them make a living out of hiring camels to carry tourists through the village and coffee shops are starting to pop up with an English menu. So will this culture be sustained or live on? If it does it may be because it is most profitable for the village to maintain its rustic atmosphere since it brings in more tourists. So what makes a culture sustainable? So far on this trip we've seen few cultures that have stayed intact. I think a culture can be sustained if it is more profitable for it to maintain its traditions than cater to tourists. I have seen people who understand this in Italy: restaurant owners posting outside their door that they refuse to have a tourist menu. They want to keep their cultural Italian neighborhood the way it is,and so far it's working. It just takes a lot of work to spread out enough to find these neighborhoods that still maintain their character.

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