Theresa is an American writer, artist, and tinkerer with a soft spot for interesting projects. For the past decade, she has collaborated with a variety of companies and organizations on television, online, and in print. Currently, she is active as...
Focus:Journalist, Researcher, Reporter, International News, Journalist Investigative, Entrepreneur, Investigation
Although a center of trade in fifteenth-century Changzhou, thanks to its proximity to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Qing Guo Alley's commercial importance dissolved in the twentieth century thanks to China's industrial and international trade booms.
While the first phase of construction is complete, a second section of Qing Guo Alley is still being renovated. Construction cranes are visible behind the traditional southern Jiangsu garden in Zhao Yuanren's historic residence.
Many of the houses in Qing Guo Alley were once the homes of officials, artists, and thinkers that changed the face of Chinese history. These homes are market with special plaques and occasionally multilingual signs.
Li Ercuo prepares a special fermented tea in her teahouse. Trained in psychology and astrology, Li returned to Changzhou from Hong Kong to help her mother start up and run the teahouse. Li now oversees all the teahouse's operations, including its many inhouse activities.
Mrs. Shen, who prefers to go by her title, manages the space at the boutique hotel Song Jian Tang. The hotel's buildings are so well protected by preservation laws that it has been unable to open for over a year.
Lion slippers are traditional gifts in China for new babies. This pair was hand sewn by Mrs. Liu, an 86-year-old resident of Qing Guo Alley. Mrs. Liu has been making and selling slippers as a hobby since she retired at age 50.
Most of the newcomers to Qing Guo Alley have opened up trendy, boutique shops and cafes. Mrs. Shi, an original Qing Guo Alley resident, opened up this shop in the entrance to her house as an excuse to keep the entrance open to the main street. It's more convenient, she says as she awaits the return of her grandchild from school.
I spent several weeks this fall tracking down and speaking with people connected with a multi-year renovation project taking place in Changzhou, China. The area is one of the last old neighborhoods in the city and claims a historic roster of people who have revolutionized China's arts, sciences, humanities, and even the government. As such, emotions around this project are high, and the impact on stakeholders has been complicated.