This bar serves only tap water: It sounds like a joke but it's actually awesome.

"Water is all we have."

The hottest bar in Minneapolis doesn't serve your favorite fancy cocktail. It has something so much better — water.

You walk in and grab a seat at the bar. "What'll it be?" the bartender asks. That's when you notice that everybody else is sipping from poured "water flights" containing tap water from around the country. It's a bit odd and unexpected, but everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. "I guess I'll have what they're having," you reply.

Water Bar is changing how people think about their tap water. It's a place where you can sample tap water from different cities and, more importantly, engage in some smart conversation about sustainability.


All images via Works Progress/Vimeo.

In 2014, pop-up artists Shanai Matteson and Colin Kloecker launched water bar at Minneapolis' Works Progress studio.

They teamed up with arts organizers, scientific researchers, environmental advocates, educators, artists, and local residents to create a space where people can come together to learn more about the way water matters in their lives and communities.

"Tap water is a great way to do this because it's such a common thing, and our relationship to water says so much about what we value," Matteson said. "Bringing people together around that ordinary daily ritual, but within a space that invites them to have fun or play or use their senses of taste and smell means thinking intentionally about the relationships to systems that so many of us take for granted, at least until there's a crisis."

Since then, they've served local tap waters to more than 30,000 people during pop-up events in Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Carolina.


So what kind of stuff might you learn at a Water Bar pop-up?

1. There are around 54,000 public water systems in the U.S., and each one unique in its own way.

As it turns out, the water you get from your tap might be a little different from what your friend who lives halfway across the country gets. That's due to the fact that there are roughly 54,000 public water systems.

That applies to about 300 million people, or 85% of the country's population. Each one of the 54,000 systems has certain things that make it stand out from the next — ranging from water source to purification and treatment methods. This is why water from one city might taste slightly different from another. It's on these differences that Water Bar hopes to educate the public.

Water draining into one of the country's 54,000 systems.

2. While the Flint water crisis put tap water back in the news, it's far from the only place facing quality issues.

"Flint is just one place in America where people are living with water crisis — water that's been polluted or isn't being treated properly or is unaffordable to people living on limited incomes," says Matteson.

"These have always been things we talk about at the Water Bar, but now I think we see more clearly just how important it is to understand the disparities between different places and communities."

3. Just 1% of the world's freshwater is safe for drinking — and that's why we need to work to protect it.

Nearly 70% of the world is covered by water. Nearly 98% of that is salt water. Of the fresh water, just 1% is accessible and safe for consumption. More than 780 million people around the world don't have access to clean water, and nearly 2.5 billion lack proper sanitation.

"Water connects all of us, but some communities are dealing with life-threatening and immediate water disasters. I think many of us are asking what that says about our priorities as a country and how we can steer things in a more humane and just direction."

With that in mind, its worth considering not only where our own water comes from and how it's processed, but what needs to happen to keep what precious little drinkable water on Earth exists available for consumption.

4. Water is a limited resource, and we can't necessarily just "make more of it."

"One basic thing most people don't realize is that drinking water comes from a place. Water isn't manufactured in a drinking water plant, we have get it from lakes or rivers or from underground, or we have to find ways to gather rainwater or recycle wastewater," Matteson says.

"Take a few minutes to find out where your water comes from. Our lives and the places we live depend on those water sources, which is a good reason to then ask what else we can learn about those sources and what we might do individually and collectively to protect or improve them."

The team behind Water Bar is hoping to expand things a bit in their new studio too.

So far, Matteson and Kloecker have done a fine job creating a social space centered around the act of drinking and learning more about water. At their new public studio, they're hoping to develop what Matteson calls a "sustainability incubator" — that is, a space where people can use art and design to amplify important messages about the environment.

"Water connects all of us, but some communities are dealing with life-threatening and immediate water disasters. I think many of us are asking what that says about our priorities as a country, and how we can steer things in a more humane and just direction."


To learn more about Water Bar (and find out when a pop-up event is headed your way), visit its website or check out this video from Works Progress studio.

Heroes

Prince Harry isn't just a member of England's royal family - he's also a new dad. He and Duchess Meghan of Sussex welcomed Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor into the world last month. He joins William and Kate's three offspring (George, Charlotte, and Lewis) as royal grandchildren. I assume he's being accordingly spoiled with elaborate titles, jewels, and small islands.


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A celebrated teacher's 5-point explanation of why she's quitting has gone viral.

"The school system is broken. It may be broken beyond repair."

Talented, dedicated teachers are leaving public schools because the system makes it too hard to truly educate kids.

When I studied to become a teacher in college, I learned what education can and should be. I learned about educational psychology and delved into research about how to reach different learners, and couldn't wait to put that knowledge into practice in the classroom.

But after graduating and starting to teach, I quickly saw how the school system makes it almost impossible to put what we know about real learning into practice. The structure and culture of the system simply isn't designed for it.

The developmental default of childhood is to learn. That's why four-year-olds ask hundreds of questions a day, why kids can spend hours experimenting and exploring in nature, and why kids are so much better at figuring out how to use technology. Children are natural, fearless learners when their curiosity is nurtured and they are given an environment where learning can take place.

Most teachers know this. And many find themselves so frustrated by trying to teach within an outdated, ineffective system that they decide to leave. I only lasted a couple of years before deciding other avenues of education were worth exploring. A viral post written by a celebrated teacher highlights why many teachers are doing the same thing.

Michelle Maile was a first grade teacher before she resigned this month, and her 5-point explanation of why she did it is resonating with thousands.

Maile shared on Facebook why she, a celebrated teacher in a great school district, decided to turn in her classroom keys. Her post has been shared more than 67,000 times and has thousands of comments, mostly in solidarity.

"Why would a teacher of the year nominee, who loves what she does, who has the best team, the best students and parents, and was lucky enough to be at the best elementary school not want to come back?", she wrote. "Let me tell you why….

1. Class size. Everything in my training, what I know about kids and what I see every day says that early childhood classes should be at 24 or less. (ideally 22 or less) Kids are screaming for attention. There are so many students who have social or emotional disorders. They NEED their teacher to take time to listen to them. They NEED their teacher to see them. They NEED less students in their class. The people making these decisions are NOT looking out for the students' best interests, and have very obviously NEVER taught elementary kids.

2. Respect. I feel disrespected by the district all year long. They don't trust that I know what I am doing. I have a college degree, go to trainings every year, read books and articles about kids, and most importantly, work with kids every day. I KNOW something about how they learn and what works best for them. Please listen to us.

3. Testing. Stop testing young kids. It doesn't do anyone any good. Do you know which kids slept poorly last night? Do you know who didn't have breakfast? Do you know whose parents are fighting? Do you know who forgot their glasses and can't see the computer? Do you know who struggles to read, but has come so far, just not on your timeline? You don't, but I do. I know some of my best students score poorly on their tests because of life circumstances. I know some of my lower students guessed their way through and got lucky. Why stress kids out by testing them? How about you ask ME, the professional, how they are doing? Ask ME, the teacher who sees these kids every single day. Ask ME, the teacher who knows the handwriting of all 27 kids. Ask ME, the adult in their life who may be more constant than their own parents. Ask ME, then let me teach.

4. I felt like I was drowning. So many things beyond teaching are pushed on teachers. Go to this extra meeting, try this new curriculum, watch this video, then implement it in to your next lesson, fill out this survey monkey to let us know how you feel (even though it won't make any difference), make clothes for the school play, you need to pay for that yourself because there's no money from the school for it. There's no music teacher today, so you don't get a planning time. There are weeks I truly felt like I was drowning and couldn't get a breath until Friday at 5:00. (NOT 3:00)

5. Pay. I knew becoming a teacher would never make me rich. That has never been my goal. I wanted to work with kids. I wanted to help kids. I wanted to make enough money to take care of my own kids. Sadly this isn't the case for so many teachers who have to work two jobs to support their own families. This isn't right."

Maile says the system may be broken beyond repair, which is why she's tapping into a growing educational movement.

"The school system is broken," Maile continued. "It may be broken beyond repair. Why are counselors being taken away when we need them more than ever? Why are art and music classes disappearing when these forms of expression have been proven to release stress in an overstressed world. Why are librarians being cut when we should be encouraging kids to pick up an actual book instead of being behind a screen? Do you know how many elementary students are on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications? Look. The number will astound you.

So where am I going? Because I still love kids and want to help them with their education, I will be an online charter school teacher. I will be helping families who have chosen to homeschool their kids. They also see that the school system is broken. When I told my school I was leaving, I had multiple veteran teachers say, 'I would do the same if I was younger.' 'I am so glad you are getting out now.' 'It is only going to get worse.' 'I don't see it ever getting better.'

It makes me sad. I have three kids that are still part of this public school system. If you are a public school parent, fight. Fight for your kids. Fight for smaller class sizes and pay raises for overworked teachers. Fight to keep art and music in the schools. Please support teachers whenever and wherever you can. I have been so lucky to have so many amazing parents. I couldn't have done what I have without them. I am sad to leave, but happy to go."

What do you do when an enormous system has so many inherent flaws it feels impossible to change it?

What to do about public education a hard question. Many former teachers like myself strongly believe in public schooling as a foundational element of civilized society, but simply can't see how to make it work well without dismantling the whole thing and starting over.

When I chose to educate my own kids, I was surprised by how many former teachers end up in the homeschooling community. Many of the most well-known proponents of homeschooling were or are public school teachers who advocate for more effective models of education than what we see in the system. There's a lot that could be debated here, but alternative models may be the best places to look for answers to the question of how to fix the system.

At the very least, until we start moving away from copious amounts of testing and toward trusting educators (and paying them well) to do what they've been trained to do, we're going to keep losing great teachers—making an already problematic system even worse.

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A teen took the stage with world leaders and unflinchingly spoke truth to power. YES, GIRL.

Four heads of state interrupted Natasha Mwansa's 4-minute speech to give her a standing ovation.

Watch out world. The young women have arrived, and they're taking the reins.

From Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales to Malala Yousafzai, young women are taking the microphone, organizing movements, and demanding the world's attention on major issues. And it appears they are just getting started.

Imagine you're 18 years old, preparing to go to college, and being invited to join a panel in the opening session of a huge international conference. Imagine that panel includes four current heads of state, and you'll be speaking before an audience of thousands of people from around the globe.

Now imagine standing up on that stage and telling those world leaders to their faces, in no uncertain terms, that they need to step up their game. No pussyfooting. No apologies.

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Fungi Mutarium mushroom eats plastic www.youtube.com


Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time. And while a straw ban is not the way we're going to solve it — here's why – people everywhere are looking for ways to reduce plastic use and mitigate the effects of waste.

From handing out plastic bags with embarrassing labels to removing the plastic from six-packs to harnessing the power of a plastic-eating mutant (bacteria), more and more of us are working to find solutions to a growing global program.

Add one more strange and awesome plastic-killing discover to the list: A rare mushroom that feasts on plastic the same way you or I would when we go to that $5 buffet at Cici's. (I have been only once and I'm still thinking about it, even though just the thoughts are bad for my blood pressure.)

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