**Looking back over this year's issues and reflecting on 2010, we came up with a list of the 11 people who most affected our lives in the capital this year. Here's what they did, how they did it, and what they'll do in 2011.**
By Sarah Ting-Ting Hou, Shepherd Laughlin, Blake Stone-Banks, Liz Tung and Mikala Reasbeck
##RongRong and inri##
In April, emerging art district Caochangdi
faced down demolition crews, but the bulldozers met their match in RongRong and inri, art photographers and curators who were served with a demolition notice even as they were mounting the second PhotoSpring
at their gallery, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre
. The event quickly expanded beyond its original goal of uniting 20 Caochangdi-area galleries in celebration of photography, also rallying international institutions to protect the fledgling district.
“We need to work hard to make sure this area is preserved,” says RongRong. “And there’s still a lot to be done.”
Despite the threat, RongRong and inri let nothing stand in the way of their most important goal: providing a space to expand the Chinese public’s awareness of their medium. Because Three Shadows is a more fluid and organic space than a fine art museum, inri explains, the two are able to “reach out and give everyone a greater range of possibilities with photography.”
Plans for 2011? “We are hoping in the next two years to put together a retrospective of our career up to this point,” inri reveals.
##Dr. Richard Saint Cyr##
Feeling “crazy bad”
about air pollution? Dr. Richard Saint Cyr has the website for you: www.MyHealthBeijing.com
. Fulfilling what he calls an “unmet need,” the International Medical Center family physician
created the site to help expats find information about basic, common health concerns.
“The Internet’s great for a lot of entertainment things” in Beijing, says Saint Cyr, “but there wasn’t just a public health website.” By far the most common concern is air quality. Beijing residents generally accept air pollution as the price of entry
for living in one of the world’s great capital cities, but all worry occasionally about its long-term effects. Saint Cyr’s website offers helpful tips to mitigate the effects of polluted air, contaminated food, and other common health risks
Children tend to be particularly vulnerable
to the long-term effects of contaminated air. Saint Cyr is particularly proud of his role in developing procedures that help kids dodge the worst of it: “I’d like to think that I’ve helped shape the debate a little bit in terms of raising the awareness of monitoring air pollution,” he says.
“I’ve made it sort of a personal campaign to get schools to actively have an air pollution alarm index
, where at a certain level they would leave the children in.” For Saint Cyr, each school that adopts the system is another public health victory.
Plans for 2011?“I plan to continue to funnel new information to people in a fun way through the blog, and my clinic has some expansion plans we’re excited about.”
With six releases this year alone, DJ Elvis.T is putting Beijing on the international dance music map. This year saw Elvis.T and his cohorts at
launch underground club Lantern and the already legendary House. Of all his 2010 accomplishments, however, Elvis.T is most enthusiastic about INTRO 2010, which brought 40 electronic music artists and over 10,000 revelers together at D-Park in 798 in May. “[This] was a sign that the electronic music festival project is now stabilized, and will continue to develop,” says Elvis.T.
Plans for 2011? “Following my soon-to-be-released second album, I'll start touring Asia in February and am also planning on a world tour next summer.”
The girl who brought the cupcake craze to China’s capital with Lollipop Bakery
, Lexie Morris abandoned a London 9-to-5 to scratch an entrepreneurial itch and bring her love of cupcakes to China. Morris now sells her decadent delights at Crepanini, Fisheye Café and Shunyi’s Secrets from Africa. “I live, eat, sleep and breathe cupcakes all day, every day,”
says Morris. “It’s great to be doing something you're passionate about!”
Plans for 2011? Morris plans to make Lollipop Bakery a household name in Beijing (as if it wasn’t already).
With ’80s locks and hip-grinding charisma, Rustic
bassist Ricky Sixx is the pinnacle of rock ’n’ roll decadence. The slim 21-year-old has been turning heads ever since Rustic’s surprise win at the Global Battle of the Bands in May
. Since then, Rustic has recorded an album and Sixx has launched his ’80s cover act, the Ricky Sixx Band, proving rock ain’t just serious business—it’s loads of fun, too.
Plans for 2011? “Make cash, play with Rustic and my band, go to L.A. and get married!”
Inspired by a need for a charity goods distribution network, Leslie Simpson founded Roundabout Charity Distribution Store and Book Store
, which makes it possible for any of the almost 50 charities it helps to quickly get anything they need.
In 2010, money generated by the store has helped pay for a girl’s heart surgery, elderly men’s stays in a nursing home and the distribution of over 1,000 quilts
. Though the warehouse in Shunyi is now set to be chai-ed, Simpson will be searching for its new home from its temporary residence in the Eton School Building in Pinnacle Plaza. The store sent out 24 truckloads in 2010 alone to Qinghai after this year’s earthquake.
“I would love for this acknowledgement to be an award for my team—they’re so dedicated and loyal. It’s unbelievable.”
Plans for 2011? Roundabout will register as a Chinese NGO and start a cooperation with the Chinese government that will help get locals more involved.
In 2010, chef Jeff Powell changed the face of Western dining in Beijing with hugely successful new menus for Gung Ho Pizza and Flamme. Powell oversees various constituents of the businesses, from flavor and texture profiling to equipment and kitchen design, and always strives to see his restaurants rise above the competition in Beijing.
“I’m only as good as the worst chef in my kitchen, because it all boils down to training and execution," says Powell. "You have to instill the passion for food in your cooks.”
Which is why all of Powell’s projects, from The Orchard and Element Fresh to this year’s Flamme and Gung Ho, have achieved great successes.
Plans for 2011? Jeff is developing his own restaurant consulting firm, Buzz Culinary Concepts, which specializes in new recipes, training, hiring services and operations for Beijing restaurants.
Anyone who thinks the capital’s gay culture begins and ends at Destination should take a long look at Ben Zhang, founder and director of Gayographic
, Beijing’s premiere gay culture blog and event management company.
Zhang’s crowning achievement came this past January, when he organized China’s first-ever Mr. Gay China Pageant,
an event that drew worldwide attention after its last-second shutdown by police. Despite the disappointment, Zhang still sees the event as a triumph for gay visibility: “I had my doubts when the event was shut down, but this past year, there has been great change in the gay community in Beijing.”
Plans for 2011? “I hope we can still send a representative to the Mr. Gay World
competition in Manila. We’ll also be working more closely with other gay organizations to help with their events.”
Beijingers are a migratory species, so holding together an expat rugby team through the seasons is a tough feat—and that’s before you consider communicating between 15-odd nationalities. But front row player and Beijing Devils
leader Josh Kernan is doing something right: the Devils claimed victories over rivals Guangzhou, Shanghai and Seoul this year, pulling off a third Yellow Sea Cup win.
Fusing international playing styles and including everyone from students to businessmen, the team is a cross-section of the city. Says Kernan, “that camaraderie you just can’t find anywhere else.”
Plans for 2011? “We’re now the most successful team in the Yellow Sea Cup. We’d like to win it back-to-back, and we’d love to try and win some social tournaments as well.”
In 2010, Shannon Bufton
dragged Beijing commuters out of their cars and onto bikes with Smarter Than Car
(STC) which he developed as a platform for promoting healthy bike lifestyles in Beijing. Through organized urban rides to galleries and restaurants, bike swaps and film screenings, STC is modernizing a unique Beijing cultural tradition that has fallen by the wayside.
“Beijing used to be the best city in the world for biking, but it seems it has turned its back on it,” Bufton says. “Let’s bring in bright flashy fixed gears and mountain bikes to get Beijing off its bottom and onto the bike!”
Plans for 2011? One of STC’s goals for 2011 is to build up more urban rides. STC’s also working to fund and develop bike kiosk models in hopes that they’ll be adopted throughout the city.
Director of environmental non-profit
Greening the Beige (GtB), Carissa Welton piloted her organization to the next level in 2010, becoming part of a United Nations volunteer program, participating in the INTRO 2010 electronic music festival and collaborating with Beijing City International School and Roots & Shoots on Dr. Jane Goodall’s visit on International Peace Day.
The focus, however, remained on the environmental consciousness-raising activities at the GTB “Plant Your Seed” 2010 Festival, which featured a month of performances, ECO=Chic fashion events and presentations by Beijing environmental leaders. Welton describes this year’s festival as “the best one yet.”
Plans for 2011? “The big step is to re-launch the GtB website ... Next year, it will be easier for members to post green events, start forums, post green jobs and find green news.”