Move over sharks: It’s Fat Bear Week!

This is a single elimination tournament.

For each set of two bears, vote for one who you think is the fattest.

The bear with the most votes advances.

Only one will be crowned champion of Fat Bear Week.

It’s Fat Bear Week 2020! What better way to escape the doldrums of covid life than to spend an hour or four watching the peaceful lives of Alaska brown bears — and voting for your favorite? Bear cams! Live chat with park rangers! Voting, but without the nausea!

From The Verge:

Sometimes, we need to appreciate the really big things in life — like the fact that even in 2020, Fat Bear Week has arrived right on schedule. The annual tournament kicks off today with head-to-head matchups continuing until October 6th. Anyone with an internet connection can tune into Katmai National Park’s live Bearcam to watch the behemoths binge on salmon, and viewers can vote each day for their favorite big beasts.

Fat bears are healthy bears. So Katmai National Park and Preserve started the tradition six years ago to celebrate its bears, who are likely among the fattest (and healthiest) of their species in the world. The Brooks River meanders through the pristine park, delivering a buffet of migrating sockeye salmon to its bears each summer. They’ve got to stuff themselves to prepare for winter hibernation, when they might lose a third of their body mass while holing up in their dens for up to six months.

This is perfect fodder for news channels and web sites that need content, and a feel good story that captures the attention of the world, if only for a week.

By now, some of Katmai’s 2,200 bears are celebrities. Fans are already campaigning for their favorites, like last year’s “Queen of Corpulence,” bear 435 (aka Holly).

 

Voting captures your email address for explore.org, the multimedia organization running Bear Week, which promotes stories around “animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality.”

Why it’s hot:

1. This is a fun way to spread awareness of wildlife by prodding us humans’ deep desire to have our say.

2. Encouraging people to care about bears is a positive step in encouraging eco-conscious public sentiment and personal choices.

By 2025, roughly 85% of people in the US will live in urban areas, disconnected from nature for a majority of their lives. Maintaining an appreciation for the other species on our planet is important for the mostly urban public to make personal and policy decisions that preserve and protect vital natural ecosystems that they might not have any connection with. A yearly tournament for fattest bear is a clever way to get urban dwellers to fall in love with an animal that they otherwise may not have any reason to know or care about, which is especially important when policy decisions can literally kill entire ecosystems.

Source: The Verge

Tip your (non)local coffee-bean picker

We’re spoiled in the US. We get to drink premium coffee from the best farms in the world, and at a reasonable price. But many of the farm-workers involved in actually making that cortado a reality generally aren’t compensated equitably.

Some people would be willing to pay more for coffee if they knew that increase was going to support the workers who need and deserve it, but making that change through the traditional economy of producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is extremely difficult. Even direct-trade coffee partnerships are subject to the demands of the global coffee industry, which must feed a voracious worldwide caffeine habit.

Propina is trying to side-step the traditional model of farm-worker compensation by allowing people to support farm-workers by making a direct contribution to a farm-worker’s pension fund when they’re at the till of their favorite coffee shop. In-shop videos like the one above drive awareness while patrons wait in line to make their order. Additionally, similar to the Patreon model, patrons can become recurring contributors and get updates from the farm.

Why it’s hot

1. Using technology to bridge the gap from producer to consumer empowers money-havers to give to a cause they believe in.

2. Technology shrinking the world, making something global feel like more of a local connection.

3. We may see more of these “capitalism hacks” that attempt to use technology to circumvent systemic inequalities that otherwise seem insurmountable.

Why it’s not hot

1. Like the US server-tipping model, this idea could potentially drive down guaranteed wages for farm workers if employers see them gaining any amount of significant external compensation. In a sense, this idea only works well if it remains an insignificant portion of a farm workers livelihood.

2. This model relies on the generosity of the globally wealthy to “support” poor farm workers, instead of creating systems of equitable exchange that account for the needs of all stakeholders. Admittedly, the latter is a much more difficult challenge.

Source: Contagious