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Capturing the Plight of Rural China’s ‘Left Behind’ Children

These filmmakers hope to support a mentorship program for the kids.

When Ben Keller and Oliver Brooks Hamilton, two seniors at Denison University, learned that their classmate Xinyi Hua had won a Davis Projects for Peace grant, they got right to work. Hua’s project centered on building a one-to-one mentorship program between college students and China’s “left behind” children, whose little-discussed reality is a significant issue in the country’s rural townships. Keller and Brooks, knowing they wanted to shoot a short documentary about the project, started applying for grants of their own, building a Kickstarter to fund the rest of the film’s $10,000 budget. A few months later, they were all in Longpao, a rural village near Nanjing, where they made the 18-minute “Left Behind,” released earlier this month.

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How a Simple Browser Add-On is Changing the Way Visually Impaired People Use the Web

Meet the brains behind a powerful new tool that lets anyone contribute to making the internet a more accessible place.

Illustration by Jean Wei

It was at lunch about a year ago that Niamh Parsley first had the idea for her thesis—a tool called Depict, which could radically improve the lives of the visually impaired. She was with her husband and Joe Stretchay, his friend from high school, and she watched how Stretchay, who is blind, navigated the meal. “I noticed a few mannerisms that he had [developed] to deal with his visual impairment,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh wow, he must have all these little quick fixes for a ton of things that I had just never thought of.’” She was nearing the end of her time at Parsons, earning her MFA in Design and Technology, and realized that the Internet was a place where those little fixes are nearly impossible for the visually impaired to develop.

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Levi Strauss Senior Global Marketing Manager Erik Wolsky met Oakland artist and teacher Keith “K-Dub” Williams at an event in San Francisco’s FTC Skate Shop earlier this year. Williams, who stands about 6’5” with long dreadlocks, a scruffy beard, and wide shoulders, laid out his dream of rebuilding “Town Park,” an all-wood skate park in West Oakland’s DeFremery Park, into a more permanent, professional cement design. When Wolsky heard Williams explain it, he loved the idea and vowed to help.

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