International Friends of the Great Wall is working in partnership with Beijing Administrative
Bureau of Cultural Relics & UNESCO Beijing Office to preserve
the authenticity of Beijing's Great Wall
In 1987 William Lindesay traveled 2,470 km alone and on foot along the route of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall between Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan, an experience that led him to stay in China and carry out systematic and scholarly research during the 1990s. He began to document the outstanding architecture and archaeology of the Great Wall in the Beijing region, at the same time realizing that many sections of Great Wall were changing: they were becoming littered with garbage, scarred with graffiti or encroached upon by excessive tourism infrastructure development. Eager to do something, he simply picked up garbage every time he visited the Wall. Becoming increasingly frustrated he decided to organize a public campaign to draw attention to neglect of the Great Wall by leading 120 volunteers to pick up garbage: the venue was Jinshanling Great Wall, the date, 18 April 1998. Asked by a journalist whether the action constituted just a one-off or the start of a campaign, Lindesay answered just five months later in a follow-up event, by donating garbage bins, and again in 1999 with a series of activities under the banner 'Defending the Great Wall from Modern Attack', all sponsored by Norsk Hydro ASA of Norway. New elements included promotion of the 'Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints' awareness campaign, and the first ever attempt to introduce non-profit stewardship at a section of wilderness Wall by the establishment of a team of local farmers employed as rangers and placement of 'green message' notice-boards.
As an individual, William Lindesay always believed that one person's action could make a difference. He showed that others —— sponsors and individuals —— who also cherished the Great Wall, were willing to actively contribute to its protection. Encouraged by this response William Lindesay gathered support to bring about the formal establishment of International Friends of the Great Wall , a society dedicated to Great Wall conservation.