Place, local distinctiveness and local identity: Ecomuseum approaches in Europe and Asia
The small village of Gavalochori lies in the foothills of mountains above Souda Bay on the northern shores of the Mediterranean island of Crete. The village’s survival was once dependent on agriculture, growing a variety of crops including fruit, vines and olives, and rearing sheep and other livestock. However, it has gradually adapted to the influence of tourism, which is now the mainstay of the island’s economy. Other Europeans have settled there or built second homes, the village has acquired new tavernas, and enterprising locals have explored ways of motivating tourists to stop and explore. The rich cultural heritage of the village has been central to their actions, with signposts encouraging visitors to discover for themselves the Venetian buildings, ancient village wells, threshing floors and Roman tombs. The revitalization of local crafts (including pottery, needlework, painting, cookery and the distillation of raki) has been encouraged by a women's cooperative. These craft goods are sold in a local taverna which is also run by the cooperative. The women act as guides to the Gavalochori Museum which conserves material culture linked to their village history and promotes an identity to the outside world.