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EVENT: Urban Dare Groupon

There is a cottage industry of odd Amazing Race type events that has sprouted up in burgs large and small the past few years.  On September 29, Boton's iteration promises the chance to zipline through the city, roll around in mud, eat stuff from the sewer, etc.:

The Urban Dare Adventure Race is a fast-paced competition that challenges two-person teams to decipher clues, navigate the city, and perform playful stunts. Combining the bustle of a track meet with the brain-taxing sleuth work of a luge competition, the race uses a dozen trivia-based clues to lead contestants to checkpoints all over their sprawling metropolis. Location hunters reach their checkpoints by whatever means necessary, be it hopping a bus downtown, flying madly through a network of secret ziplines, or scuba-diving in a fountain for bus fare. At the mini destinations, racers must use a camera to document their presence or, in some cases, get their passports stamped after completing challenges that may include a climbing wall or a puzzle.
Groupon Boston Offer - $45.

This is worth doing.  At best, you will break out of your usual recreational routine and discover new things about your city . . . and your soul.  At worst, you will receive an invaluable reminder of Fordist awfulness and, well, get to see the slice of humanity who is out and about doing these things, like speed dating.

Tourism, Gentrification and Neighborhood Change

An interesting look at the role tourists can play in gentrification, especially in a tourism-dependent city like Berlin.

Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood is famous as being a home of alternative lifestyles and immigrants. But the locals' reputation for tolerance is being put to the test by an influx of tourists. Middle-class residents are up in arms about night-time noise and rising rents.
Der Spiegel, March 7, 2011.

World Heritage vs. Tourism vs. Local Residents

Very interesting article in the NYTimes about Djenne's struggle with preservation in the face of modernization and economic development (via tourism).

The value of the UNESCO brand in Seoul

Seoul, UNESCO in deal on design (Korea Times, 9/14/2010)

An article in the Korea Times discusses the agreement between the City of Seoul, South Korea and South Korea's chapter of UNESCO, which will allow the city to use the UNESCO logo in promotional materials relating to the city's designation as the eighth UNESCO "Creative City for Design." Will the UNESCO logo and the official designation benefit the city's image as a design capital? According to the article,

"The city estimates that being a UNESCO City of Design will help it jump in the city brand value rankings to 20th from the current 33rd within five years."

What is the value of a city's brand, and what does this ranking contribute to its competitiveness on the world stage? Is this a wise strategy for Seoul as it seeks to distinguish itself in design and to grow its design industry through marketing and brand maintenance? What are your thoughts?

Leave your comments, we'd love to hear them!

Sea, Sun, and Scalpels: Brazil's Bid To Be The Four Seasons of Medical Tourism

Medical tourism (like in India, as mentioned in Steph's post below) is taking off as parts of the developing (and in this case pretty much developed) world. Fast Company's Greg Lindsay reports on the striking increase in Brazilian tourists seeking discounted surgery in Brazil.