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

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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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