The Women Taking on the Macho World of Mariachi

Mariachi is a folkloric tradition as macho as it is Mexican. Eight years ago, Mireya Ramos and Shae Fiol sought to up-end convention and founded Mariachi Flor de Toloache, New York City’s first all-female mariachi band. With their bandmates Julie Acosta and Eunice Aparicio, the musicians traded in traditional mariachi skirts for homemade suits and created an empowering space for women while staying true to the music and spirit of mariachi.

This Is the Only Shelter for Refugees in NYC

Edafe Okporo is the director of the only shelter in New York City that provides housing for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. He knows what it’s like to arrive in the U.S. with nowhere to go. Okporo left Nigeria seeking asylum after he was attacked by a mob because of his sexual orientation. With the hope of a better life, he came to the U.S., but soon realized he faced another battle. Refugees can undergo harsh treatment, having to navigate complex asylum law and face time in detention centers. Still, he persevered, and built a life for himself. Now, Okporo is helping others do the same.

Swimming in Toxic Water

There’s a reason no one has gone for a dip in New York City’s Newtown Creek in recent history. In Christopher Swain’s words, it’s like “swimming through a dirty diaper garnished with oil, gasoline and trash.” He’s a clean water activist who has swum over 3,000 miles in 25 different contaminated waterways across North America as a means of advocating for their cleanup. Taking a dip in these waterways does not come without its risks. Despite the precautions Christopher takes—wearing a puncture-resistant drysuit, goggles, ear plugs, etc.—he still gets sick from the various contaminants. It’s the hazards that come along with the cause, but Christopher continues to swim, all out of love for the water.

Searching for China’s Ancient Tea Leaves

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world, first cultivated over 6,000 years ago in ancient China. Shunan Teng is on a mission to experience it in its most authentic, historic form. Her love for tea knows no bounds, as she travels halfway around the world, up steep mountains and through remote jungles in search of the world’s oldest tea trees. Now, through Tea Drunk, a teahouse in New York City, she’s giving others the opportunity to be steeped in history.