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.
In 2020, the number of women buying boxing gloves doubled. While more girls are participating in boxing studios more than ever, it’s still rare for women to be coaches. Meet Summer Jiao, the Muay Thai instructor whose ex-boyfriend’s fat shaming catalyzed her journey to boxing. Muay Thai is known to be brutal, fierce, and violent, especially when you watch athletes in merciless matches. But the practice is about decisiveness, speed, persistence–and is a great test for observing and collecting your thoughts. After practicing for 8 years, 27-year-old instructor Summer has devoted her life to boxing and says it gave her reason for existence. Students like Yan Bao, who is also a mother, agrees that Muay Thai isn’t about violence as much as it is about peace. Being strong in your body, able to kick properly, and run fast is about safety and calming your mind–especially as a girl or woman out there in the world.
On average, 16 people die from snakebites every day in Bangladesh. Deep Ecology is a 24/7 on-standby, volunteer group that rescues these snakes. Not only is their rescue work saving lives (both humans and snakes) but they're also breaking the misconceptions causing snake extinction. Snake-related awareness and snake rescue ideas are not well known yet. Before Syeda Annanya Faria, there were no women involved in this rescue work. While Syeda grew up with a fear of snakes like many of us, today she isn’t afraid . In fact, when she first held one, she understood how fragile and harmless of a creature it is–especially when handled properly. Rescuers like Syeda explain that this work is about animal and human survival. There is nothing more rewarding to them than hearing that their work is the reason someone survived.
Dogs have been part of Bali’s native community for thousands of years. Today, there are over half a million strays who attack--and spread disease. Yayasan Seva Bhuana is an organization sterilizing dogs. They want to promote healthy animals, neighborhoods, and people in Bali. In the past eight years, the organization has sterilized an estimated 23,000 dogs and cats and offers free sterilization events for villages who don’t have pet clinics. Sterilization has health benefits, like increasing an animal’s life span, reducing risks of cancer, and more. The cost of medicine is $3000 each month for all the animals, but for Yayasun Seva Bhuana, it’s worth it. They believe healthy dogs will help Bali.
Being a lesbian in China was hard for Lexi Zhang. After she came out, Lexi’s family shamed her, and she fell into depression. Leaving behind a "toxic" environment, Lexi immigrated to Canada, where she began building a new life for herself, and literal homes for others–really tiny ones. Many Asians can relate to this: sacrificing the majority of your life trying to please your parents. After college, when Lexi realized she liked girls and came out to her family, she also learned that she would no longer be able to please them–because she was gay. Her long-term partner, Da Cheng, became a cornerstone in Lexi’s journey back to herself. They now live together in Calgary, where Lexi has joined a tiny home construction company. She is working towards becoming a Red Seal carpenter and has learned about her own strength through this journey. She also has learned that the LGBTQIA+ community is stronger when each member finds their individual power. And for ordinary girls like her, who may not have believed they can live out of the box that other people have placed them in, Lexi says you need to believe in yourself enough to try.
Fan Qinhui, records sounds of a quiet trail in Taiping Mountain, Taiwan to find warning signs of environmental change. Qinhui says listening can help you create a relationship with land--and listening in the quiet trail isn’t about hearing silence, it’s about hearing clearly. Taiwan’s dense population and narrow land doesn’t make it easy to hear nature without people, cars, or planes–so Qinhui records at 5 am before anyone arrives. She isn’t focused on the quietness of the quiet trail–she’s documenting sounds of a monsoon, forest birds chirping in the fog, and how sounds change in the four seasons. Though Qinhui didn’t study biology, she’s gradually created a unique sound map. She’s translated this sound map into a website where you can hear what species there are and see what they look like. She encourages everyone to take the 1km path quietly, and change our way of listening and reconnecting with the land.