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This brief concept paper contains some ideas for the promotion of Armenia and Armenianism worldwide. The ideas can be considered separately, or as a whole, and the implementation could be done in a large variety of ways. Some of these are simple businesses that would turn over a profit, some are not, and some are what could be looked at as cooperatives, or non-profit businesses.
I. LITTLE ARMENIAS
A. Named Armenian areas – these are the heavily, primarily, or historically Armenian neighborhoods which some of the ideas mentioned below could be applied to, depending on the current state of that area’s Armenian population as well as its tourism potential.
- Anjar, Lebanon
- Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem
- New Julfa, Isfahan
- Armenian Quarter, Venice
- Armenian Quarter, Lviv
- Armenian District, Istanbul
- Armenian Quarter, Tbilisi
- Armenian Quarter, Baku
- Little Armenia, Hollywood
- Armenia Town, Fresno
- Little Armenia, Watertown
- Burj Hammoud, Beirut
- Christian Quarter, Aleppo
B. Ideas for the Little Armenias
- Restaurant(s) - see entry under "Other things to do worldwide"
- Some architecture - each "Little Armenia" should have some Armenian flavor. Possibilities include facades of tuf, carvings, entry arches on the streets of stone with carvings, churches could be replicas of ancient Armenian churches/monasteries, castle replicas could be for secular uses.
- Book and music store - great way to spread/preserve/promote Armenian culture.
- Souvenir store - great way to spread/preserve/promote Armenian culture.
- Tourism promotion - one of the benefits of these communities for Armenia proper aside from general good will towards Armenia is that it could be used specifically to generate interest in visits to Armenia, both from Diasporans and non-Armenians. This could be done with the use of posters, travel agencies with special knowledge/prices, cultural exchanges, museum (see below) and/or other means. Some of the Armenian neighborhoods are in major tourist destinations, Jerusalem and Los Angeles being prime examples. None of these Armenian neighborhoods generates great interest for non-Armenians nor attracts many tourists, though the tourists are just steps away.
- Small museum - nothing huge, but with a (possibly rotating) small display of very impressive Armenian art. Some of the finest examples of illuminated manuscripts, carpets, paintings, khachkars, jewelry, instruments, etc could be put on display with captivating explanations. Some of these would tie into the shops mentioned.
- Carpet shops - what better way into people's thoughts than having a beautiful Armenian carpet in their home? Since production is alive and well in Armenia this will directly be responsible for job creation. Armenians are already big in this business, but Armenian rugs per se are not as well known.
- Jewelry store - Armenians are known for this trade around the world, and diamond cutting is big business for Armenia. A jewelry store or two would fit in well.
- Hotels/hostels - both for Armenian visitors, and non-Armenians. Good way to ensure people spend time and money in the Armenian neighborhood. These could extend beyond Armenian neighborhoods as regular hotel chains with an Armenian theme.
- Armenian school(s)
- Retirement homes
- Dormitories - to give younger Armenians a living environment where they can meet Armenians, speak Armenian, and socialize with Armenians. The configuration could be built to suit (large dormitory building), purchase of existing apartments, etc. It could all be centralized in one place (for example in LA it could be in Little Armenia), or it could be blocks of units in various locations (for example in LA it could be Glendale, Burbank, Hollywood, Northridge). This idea could also be used in any Armenian community, even if it is not very concentrated. Sydney, Buenos Aires, Boston, Michigan - as long as there is demand.
II. OTHER ARMENIAN PROJECTS
A. Other projects outside of Armenia
- Restaurant chains (fast food, bakery, upscale) - Food is one of the best ways to introduce a culture to people. A few chains of Armenian restaurants should be started. Fast food/cafeteria style, bakeries like Sassoun Bakery in Hollywood, but perhaps with a couple of more items (boregs, pide) and a bit of seating, plus your typical Armenian restaurant similar to Carousel, and finally a cool fusion type chain like Burger Continental with live music/dance. A bar chain could also be good (like Irish bars, but serve all beers, plus Armenian beers, cognacs, fruit vodkas). In many places it is hard to find an Armenian restaurant, and quality varies a great deal, this would be a great way to introduce Armenian food in a way that can be tested and mass marketed across the planet. All larger cities should have one or more of these, and smaller and touristy places could have one or two of them depending on the market.
- Island/Coastal community - build a small Armenian town similar to Solvang, but somewhat bigger, in such a way as to preserve its Armenian character. Could be done on an island such as Cerralvo (in Baja), or Catalina (where the city of Avalon is the only real settlement which can exist there and is 1 square mile - it could be bought up bit by bit), or smaller island/coastal location in the vicinity of Southern California/Baja California.
- Distribution network - one of the roadblocks to more successful Armenian-specific products is the lack of a good global distribution network. If people could worry only about production, and turn distribution to far flung Armenian communities to a single entity, the number and quality of Armenian products would increase. From books to music to t-shirts to movies. The distributors can also target appropriate non-Armenian outlets in order to promote Armenian products to a wider audience.
B. Other projects within Armenia
- Start massive summer programs for Diaspora – make Birthright Armenia a rite of passage, make annual summer visits the norm, create a very strong connection between the homeland and diaspora.
- Build a massive retirement community. It would be much cheaper for retiring Armenians in the west to move to Armenia when retiring, where their pensions alone would allow them to live quite well. This would also provide numerous jobs in Armenia. A big community which provides all the comforts of home, like-minded neighbors, as well as access to excellent health care (a side project) would create the necessary factors for a large scale number of retirees.
- Start an artists colony in Armenia and/or Karabakh. This would attract the type of foreigners to Armenia who are happy to deal with rougher living conditions and who would be influenced by Armenian culture as well as bring in other outside interest.
- Plus see my list of Armenian Tourism Development Ideas