Create a shortcut to this folder in your file manager, and you've got something like the Mac Applications folder.
A: Yeah, create a hidden folder in your home directory. Add a launcher there.
A: A file with the extension .desktop - like this:
A: Save your hack as, say myHack.desktop. Make the file executable:
# chmod a+x myHack.desktop
A: Now you should be able to see the icon in the folder. The last step is simple - in say Ubuntu just drag the file to the panel. Other windows managers may add the app launcher in other ways.