The demolition of Beijing's historical courtyard alleyways, called Hutong, has long been one of the city's most controversial issues. At the height of the city's headlong rush to modernity in the 1990s, about 600 Hutong were destroyed each year, displacing an estimated 500,000 residents. Unable to afford a new home in the old city, which is gentrifying almost as quickly as it's disappearing, people are forced to move into high-rise communities on the city's outskirts. Preservation has to deal with real estate, cultural issues, genius loci, housing conditions. There will never be a unique and right way to deal with heritage, but could there be at least a more democratic one? How can we advocate for a more democratic approach?