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Jan 14, 2023Liked by Connla Stokes

You put your full emotion into this one and channeled it at least 64 different ways. Well done.

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Thanks a lot Steve.

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Dec 30, 2022Liked by Connla Stokes

While I agree with the overall tone of this article, I think something should be said about the lessons that can be learned from other cities in their redevelopment process. In the 1950s and 60s, San Franciscans rejected construction of new freeways and allowed developers to adapt old warehouses and canneries for public, commercial, and residential uses that invigorated the economy, attracted tourists, and enhanced the city’s identity. Meanwhile, Singapore bulldozed most of the city for new freeways and high-rise residential and office towers, only to find its tourism dwindling and its identity lost. Once they realized this, they managed the restore the last historical district left in the city, Chinatown.

Ho Chi Minh City remains blessed with a rich mixture of buildings and urban spaces reflecting its periods of history. While many of the desirable sites in the inner city can be redeveloped with new construction, a holistic planning process could identify enough heritage buildings to remain amongst the new construction, protecting and enhancing the identity of Ho Chi Minh City.

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Dec 31, 2022·edited Dec 31, 2022Author

Thanks Mel and I get those additional thoughts. I remember the late great Sam Maruta returned from Shanghai gushing about the beauty and scale of that city's old quarters/ neighbourhoods, which were a revelation to him, I assume having mostly (pre-trip) seen 'the hype' (i.e images of the skyscrapers and glitzy skylines etc), and wishing Saigon would also cherish what it had left. With this essay I battled to keep it focused on expatriate nostalgia and my own 'journey' to understand a city where I am a voluntary resident and perhaps to accept rather than lament (or resent) change. But I would love to read an article (or book) that delves into the topic you raise and learn more about other cities' attempts to protect heritage, even if they came late in the day, maybe especially if they came late in the day.

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Dec 31, 2022Liked by Connla Stokes

Connla, I don't have any books or articles about heritage conservation in other countries at hand, but I did publish an article about values for heritage conservation for TiaSáng Magazine, a publication of the Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology recently. The original English-language version can be read or downloaded from Google Drive at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uB3lcsF7I_kIYtSM4WVimI9SVxsdhipa/view?usp=sharing

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Dec 30, 2022Liked by Connla Stokes

Excellent, a great long read.

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Dec 30, 2022Liked by Connla Stokes

I love this post. More than your fiction writing. And you love Saigon haha… despite it all, still same old Saigon in its heart and soul … that’s your conclusion..

The funny thing is I love the post but am not crazy about coming to visit Saigon haha… so obviously not loving the city as you do.. I guess I appreciate the writing, the sense of nostalgia and all the literary references (Ps will dig up that Marquez’ writing again)… and the many layers/angles this post touched upon..

Well visiting Saigon is nice as we can see you guys and also go to Kakinoki haha- will buy you a coffee when we are in town next!!! Not the coffee at the fancy place w the Nicaraguan beans though! But the Local drinks made of burnt coffee

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Dec 30, 2022Liked by Connla Stokes

Brilliant post, Connla.

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Thanks buddy.

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Great piece, Connla, I can't help but (again) nore the changing Dublin that Brian arrived to in (gasp) '77, compared to Dubbelin as it is now... or at least was, yesterday, when I looked... This is truly a dilemma. The condemnation of "auld Dubbelin" tenements in the '60s., '70s and onward was motivated by that emerging middle class notion of a "house of your own" with "a garden and all", did not take the shape expected, creating the known challenges of suburban ghettoisation... and to the razing of land readying it "for development," the centre of the USA city of Hartford tells a tale. Hartford was one of several gracious Eastern USA cities. In the turmoil of the ate 60s, with civil rights protesters and "dangers" downtown, anyone who could, was encouraged to move to the suburbs, to safety, security, to green countryside roads that had barns and "doo dah" stores and dairies and farms. So they did. And Brian's family did too. The city was razed, with the only development being the creation of massive parking lots, for the commuting workers in the high rise offices, selling insurance by the bucketload to nervous suburban dwellers. The city has become a "no go" area, unless you're an Irish eejit who suggests "let's go into town", to be met by puzzled faces and shrugs of, "oh, there's not much there...", and so it goes. The brave new developments of Dublin sees a city full of hotels and chachkie "Irish" bullshit for sale, and increasingly a city of tent dwellers, so where is the balance? This is perhaps the challenge; sn't it always? M.

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Thanks Mary. I recall a Twitter account that used to post pictures of certain US city centres (downtown areas) that were now dominated by car parks. Some of them seemed to be mostly carparks! It's always sad to see a cultural hub and thriving city hollowed out (however it happens). Often when digital renderings of Ho Chi Minh in the future are composed (by investors/developers) it's noticeable that there is never any street life (no street food, vendors, etc) and zero motorbikes. It's always an eery sight, this digital (and unrealistic) utopia. Asian cities like Bangkok and HCMC show that this Tomorrowland never really arrives. But it's still comes at a cost.

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