Issue 010

Project 010: Show Your Sole

For Project 010 we asked you to submit a Project idea. Our first contribution comes from Laura Johnston. She writes: "Shoes can be a fabulous creative expression of oneself. No two pairs are alike. And that becomes even more true when you look past the obvious, and get to the bottom part-the sole. The..

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Project 010: The Project Project

The goal of the GOOD Project is to involve our readers in the creative process-the idea being that our relationship to you isn't just a one-way street; we all comprise the membership of this community. For our first nine projects, we've pretty much handed you a set of instructions. So this time around,..

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Meet More Expats

Microsoft China's chief piracy czar and four other expats share their experiences living in the Middle Kingdom.

It's easy to feel outnumbered in a country of 1 billion people, especially for non-natives. But more and more foreigners are finding ways to make China feel like home. We profiled seven of them in Issue 010. Here are five more.

David Ben Kay

age 53Where did you move from?I moved to Beijing from Hong Kong, moved to Hong Kong from California.How long have you been in China?Eighteen years in Beijing. And if you mean greater China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, then 25.What do you do?I work for Microsoft China as their piracy czar. I had previously been their general counsel and before that I was in private practice in a number of international law firms. For my "other job," I'm a designer and operate an art gallery-which is also my pied-à-terre.Why did you move?In a word: yuanfen, often translated as "destiny" or "fate." It comes from a Taoist concept that views the cosmos like fabric, with people, time, events, and places running along the continuum of the warp and woof of the fabric. Where the warp and woof cross is where yuanfen occurs. A thousand seeming coincidences from childhood on brought me to China. It's where I'm supposed to be.What do you miss?There's only one thing I miss: really good Mexican food-okay, Tex-Mex food. Every time I land in Denver (where I was born), I immediately head to Señor Pepe's for my fix: a chile relleno, cheese enchiladas, a smothered burrito, and guacamole.Any plans to come back?No.

Jeffrey Ludlow

age 30Where did you move from?Rotterdam, and before that Los Angeles.How long have you been in China?Four years between Shanghai, Hong Kong, and now Beijing.What do you do?I work for design companies working within the architecture field.Why did you move?I came to China to see what this building boom was about. Unlike the States or Europe, where getting experience required waiting for positions to open up, here they just thrust you into responsibility and new project possibilities.How much Chinese do you speak?I'm able to order food and navigate a taxi, thanks to the best tutors, waiters, and taxi drivers.How much do you hang out with other expats?I just want to relax and hang out with friends whom I can relate to easily. Unfortunately, this is 70 percent so-called expats. I don't understand this whole expat classification. No one views immigrant communities within the States with such loaded connotations of colonialism.Any funny stories?When I first moved to China, I went to several grocery stores only to find that the milk expiration date was the same everywhere [and that it had all expired]. What I didn't realize was that the date on milk cartons was the date when they put the product on the shelf.Any plans to come back?I have been saying for a couple of years that I wanted to leave the Chinese rat race, but the opportunities and projects that have come about make it hard to leave.

Sean Leow

age 26Where did you move from?San Francisco.How long have you been in China?Five years.What do you do and how did you end up doing it?Chinese creatives-musicians, artists, writers, designers-are underrepresented by mainstream Chinese media and lack effective distribution options. My company, Neocha.com, helps these young and emerging "creatives" promote themselves by aggregating their work online and organizing a variety of offline events ranging from creative bazaars and concerts to art exhibitions and online contests.Why did you move?My father is Hakka Chinese and, while I was raised in the U.S., I always wanted to reconnect with the Chinese half of my heritage. After graduating from college, I moved to China and have not left.How much Chinese do you speak?I speak it fluently. I went to graduate school in China, 90 percent of my work is in Chinese and I have a Chinese blog.What should people in America know about China?The gap between the young and old generations in China is huge right now. The urban youth are driven by a capitalist mentality, are uninterested in politics, and live in a digital world. One of the most common observations made by my Chinese friends is how they don't understand their parents and how their parents understand them even less.Any plans to come back?Yes, I'll move back in a couple years. I think it's healthy to continually change your perspective on the world and staying in China for too long can make you jaded.

Jeremy Goldkorn

age 36Where did you move from?South Africa.How long have you been in China?Thirteen years.What do you do and how did you end up doing it?I own and edit Danwei.org, a website about media and news in China. I started it four years ago after working in the media and advertising industries for most of the previous decade.How much Chinese do you speak?I can speak, read, and write, but Chinese people still laugh at my mistakes.How much do you hang out with other expats?Beijing is not a happy place if you don't like the company of Chinese people, but I also need friends from other countries. One of the best things about living in Beijing is the variety of foreigners here. It easy to meet people from all over the globe-from Azerbaijan to Zambia.What should people in America know about China?It's not all kung fu, silk, Communists, and sweatshops. The country that most reminds me of China is the United States: both are huge countries with socially and geographically mobile populations that have an incredible work ethic and an inflated sense of self-importance.What do you miss?What do I miss? Free media.Any plans to come back?Come back to where?

Virginia Hunt

age 30Where did you move from?Boston.How long have you been in China?Seven years.What do you do and how did you end up doing it?Here in Shanghai, I manage a children's learning center, teach children ages 5 to 9 and am completing a children's storybook.Why did you move?I originally came to China to work in education, learn about the educational industry here, and study Chinese.How much Chinese do you speak?I have a working proficiency in Chinese. My friends are constantly helping me with my poor grammar.What should people in America know about China?China is developing and changing faster than a growing child. I advise all those interested to hop on a plane and check it out, while it is still moderately inexpensive. The demographics of cities like Shanghai and Beijing are changing quickly as well. I am a black American female with Caribbean parents. I have been surprised by how many black Americans and Caribbeans alone have settled in Shanghai since 2004.Any plans to come back?I do plan to return to the U.S. sometime soon, although the time is not yet set in stone.
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They Like Hip Hop!

Hip hop's spread to mainland China has been spotty but the Wu Tang Clan have still found a fan in Chinese rapper BlaKK Bubble.

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They Win Medals!

Table tennis will be the hottest local ticket at the Beijing Olympics, and the U.S. competitors are bound to be anxious.

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The New China

Shenzhen, once a sleepy fishing village, is now a teeming city of skyscrapers. Will this model of modern China be a lesson in getting too big too fast?

On the outskirts of Shenzhen, up a small mountain and around a bend, is a Buddhist temple. At first glance, it looks like any other Buddhist temple-vibrant yellows and reds, wreaths of flowers celebrating the Chinese New Year, devotees with incense in hand, waiting to offer prayers to the temple's 12 different Buddhas. Even the on-site restaurant, in keeping with Buddhist tradition, is vegetarian. But lining the ground floor of the orange pagoda are gift shops (several of them) and illegal minibus drivers perch just outside, ready to ferry tired worshippers back down the hill to the city for a few cents a head.It's the last few days of the Chinese Spring Festival, and under the bright sun, the ornate pavilion looks lost in time. The whole complex could date from the beginning of the last century-ancient in Shenzhen. Except it doesn't. It was built in 1990, which makes the 102-year-old head priest 84 years older than the temple he cares for."There are no old buildings in Shenzhen," explains a worshipper with a laugh.In a city built on expectations and the promise of a new China, the temple is an oddity-a building made to look old. Here, gleaming skyscrapers are prized, shooting up into the sky with improbable speed to accommodate the hundreds of Chinese who show up every day to find work. And from an observation deck on the 68th floor of Shenzhen's tallest skyscraper, one can track the city's three-decade rise through its rapidly shifting architecture: dull concrete apartment blocks with oppressive metal window bars (early 1980s), low-rises covered in bathroom tiles (mid-1980s), Pepto-Bismol-pink silos (early to mid-1990s), Hong Kong meets Miami pastel (early 2000s), and large, curved-glass showpieces (post-2004). In all directions, cranes shift materials to brand-name condos and business towers designed by superstar architects. Nearby, a high-rise looms 40 stories in the air. It looks about a year old, but if you look closely, the brick is already starting to discolor. Beside that, a structure has been razed.In 1979, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping chose a sleepy Pearl River Delta fishing village about 20 miles from Hong Kong to be a "special economic zone," a testing ground for China's experiments in capitalism. In the nearly 30 years since, Shenzhen has exceeded all expectations. It has exploded from a population of 70,000 to at least 10 million. It has also become a high-tech business destination with a massive container port-the fourth largest in the world-and a stock exchange surpassed in China only by those in Hong Kong and Shanghai. But listen closely in the city's markets and one can hear migrants from Sichuan and Hunan worrying that their jobs won't cover their big-city rent; cabbies stopped at red lights discuss the feasibility of striking for better pay. Like any big city that promises a better life, challenges here abound.

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