Between the pandemic and political changes in Hong Kong, many places are being demolished without people even knowing. These explorers are trying to hold on to some of the city’s past with their photo book ‘Spatial Cemetery’. Abandonment and development come hand in hand, and naturally some cities have more abandoned spaces than others. Hong Kong has a particularly high concentration of these areas because of the rapid development post-handover in 1997. Echo and Ghost co-founded HK Urbex a decade ago, in hopes to find unique spots around Hong Kong. They say exploring an abandoned environment is exciting, anxiety-inducing and even surreal. Outside of just exploring, HK Urbex is documenting these spaces through photography in hopes to immortalize them. But they are disappearing fast.
Phirack Mao escaped the Cambodian genocide as a baby, and now lives in Oklahoma as a donut shop owner and sheriff. Growing up in Long Beach, Cali, Phirack lived amongst gang violence, discrimination, and was kicked out of his home as a teen. This is how he reclaimed his life. Oklahoma has a small population of Asians,–only 800 or so of the 4 million population are Cambodians like Phirack. Fourteen years ago, Phirack became a donut shop owner, and a couple years after that, he became a sheriff. Unable to enjoy his childhood because of prevalent gang culture and a strict father, Phirack joined law enforcement to make a difference in his small community in Sulphur, OK, where he finally found belonging. As a father of three, Phirack’s main goal is to provide his children with the life that he wasn’t able to have. But these goals stem from pain in his own relationship with his father, the only member of his family that made it out alive with him. Today, Phirack loves and respects his father but still has a hard time building that relationship.
‘Song for the Mute’ is an avant-garde clothing brand hailing from Sydney, Australia. They’re recognized as innovators by the Hypebeasts and tastemakers of the world, have graced fashion shows from Milan to Shanghai, and have die-hard fans tattoo the brand name on themselves. In the past year, ‘Song for the Mute’ have begun to leave their indelible mark on mainstream culture, including a collaboration with Adidas and having the likes of BTS’s Jungkook and Usher adorn their wild pieces. But Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty – founders of Song for the Mute – will tell you that the brand prioritizes sharing their own stories over inflated price tags and the exclusivity of the fashion world. That's why as they change, so do their collections.
India’s first transgender soccer team, YaAll, is created for trans and queer people, who feel unsafe in sports because of how binary it is. YaAll is disrupting, revolutionizing, and impacting not only soccer but India too. Can India become the world’s most inclusive sporting arena? Globally, categories in sports are still for men and women. Sadam, founder of YaAll, grew up getting bullied and harassed in sports, leading him to hide or skip games. Even still, Sadam wanted to participate in sports and not have more than safety, he wanted belonging. And with YaAll, he hopes it’s the beginning of giving this to more people: the opportunity to play openly in your gender identity. The government of India has already recognized transgender as a third category of gender, and Sadam’s hope is that India will also acknowledge transgender in sports as a different category. But his vision is larger than India, he wants this inclusivity to exist everywhere.
When Uzbekistan, considered an underdog to some, won the 44th Chessy Olympiad International Competition for the first time in history, they took the world by surprise. For the past twenty-two years, Ulugbek Tillyaev has been playing chess eight hours a day. He’s been Uzbekistan’s chess champion three times, and hopes to leave a large footprint in chess history–and his country’s. What does Ulugbek claim is most distracting for players? Chess is an intellectual, uniting, creative game–and you can be any age to play it. Ulugbek teaches his young students that it takes self-confidence to win, and more importantly: real management of your emotions. Though unavoidable, Ulugbek says emotions are distracting for chess players–regardless of how old they are. Ulugbek believes there will be more wins, and not only will they include him, they will also include his students. He wants his club to produce many famous chess players, and he wants to become an international grandmaster himself. In 2026, Uzbekistan will host the 46th Chess Olympiad, where Ulugbek hopes to represent and win.
Neighborhood Safety Companions (NSC) is an all-volunteer street patrol in Koreatown, Los Angeles. At first, some assumed they were vigilantes but NSC are just regular people doing their part to protect Asian people and neighborhoods facing violence and racism. The volunteers walk the streets in a group of five to six, wearing yellow vests. They believe their presence inhibits violence, as they watch out for anyone who seems vulnerable–single pedestrians, elderly people, vendors. They talk to store owners to learn the history of the area, if there has been any trouble, and how the community feels about their safety. If that’s not enough, NSC also provides self-defense tips. David Monkawa is one of the leaders of NSC: he moved to America when he was eight years old from Yokohama, Japan. Growing up in a poor neighborhood, he witnessed systemic racism, gentrification, and became inspired by the unity among people of color. Other NSC volunteers, like David, have felt helpless and angry with the increase of violence in Asian communities within the past two years. Now, as more and more volunteer patrol groups pop across the country, David hopes Asian resistance will be mentioned in history.