China's Self-Sustaining Man Is Cyberpunk in Real Life
He runs a custom electronics-manufacturing outfit from his living room, grows organic vegetables in his garden, and even raises chickens and pigeons on his roof. It’s the kind of self-sufficiency that would make an eco-freak blush and the sort of entrepreneurial spirit generally reserved for Silicon Valley.
But Mr. Chen lives in the shadows of Foxconn’s super factories on the outskirts of Shenzhen, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and the manufacturing capital of the universe. While the region has received a bad rap in recent times because of stifling pollution and child-labor practices, its continued development has made it the perfect breeding ground for China's vibrant maker scene.
“I’ve been living in Shenzhen for almost two years now, and I’m continually amazed by this city,” writes Zach Hoeken, a formerly Brooklyn-based developer. “The people here are creative, it has the best resources for building things you can find anywhere in the world, an amazing climate, and friendly people everywhere.”
In Hoeken’s “ongoing obsession with digital fabrication and small-volume manufacturing,” he stumbled upon Mr. Chen on an online forum, who was more than happy to show off his cozy operation.