The drought-ridden West and forgotten tattoo parlors 

in June 18th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of June 18, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

A 2020 study showed how 58% of Black Americans feel misunderstood by the press. This alarmed our team, so in honor of Juneteenth, we explored the unspoken history of the Black community and the American press. We learned just how absent their voices have been since the 1800s, and how the first Black-owned newspaper came about in 1827 following New York State abolishing slavery. Yet despite centuries of advancement since, Black stories are still underrepresented in U.S. newsrooms. There’s only so much we could include in this post, but we hope it helps us all learn a little more.


The West Coast is on the brink of an actual water shortage emergency

Fri Jun 11

Living in a drought may sound like a lifestyle the American West is used to, but increasingly warming temperatures have led to such extreme dryness that some states are already on a water shortage contingency plan. In fact, 75% of Western states are currently experiencing severe drought with more than a quarter at dire levels

  • Lake Mead, which supplies water to at least 25 million people across multiple states, and the Hoover Dam are at their lowest water levels since their creation in the 1930s on the Colorado River.
  • Other water supplies in the West are similarly seeing low levels, such as Folsom Lake in California which is only half as full as usual.
  • Forecasts show water levels will continue to drop and prompt a federal declaration of a shortage, cutting off water supplies from the Colorado River. Affected states have already started to act, such as California’s declaration of a drought emergency in April.

As a result, desperate measures like trucking salmon 100 miles between water bodies are being taken. These 146 trucks are taking the place of dried up riverways the salmon once swam to move from hatcheries. This not only endangers a $900M commercial and recreational salmon industry, but also various animal populations that rely on salmon as food — from birds to bears. And this situation is just as grim in other parts of the West:

  • Farmers are forced to switch to less thirsty crops or abandon them altogether.
  • Nevada is banning the watering of roughly one third of the lawn in the Las Vegas area.
  • Firefighters are facing worsening conditions with already high wildfire risks mounting.
  • Power generation from the Hoover Dam could stop altogether without enough water, leaving millions in the area with energy uncertainty.
  • Utah’s governor is literally asking people to pray for rain.

Overall, droughts are among the costliest natural disasters with an estimated $10-14 billion in annual losses. Curious about water levels in your area or how you can help? The U.S. Drought Monitor allows you to see for yourself while the Red Cross has helpful tips for water conservation. 

Some additional resources...


Tattoo parlors got left behind during the pandemic

Fri Jun 11

Demand for tattoos skyrocketed last year, with many Americans hoping to memorialize their pandemic experiences or take advantage of remote work devoid of corporate’s tattoo stigma. But the rise in bookings may not be enough for the roughly 20,000 tattoo artists in the U.S. who struggled for resources. 

  • Most artists are self employed, independent contractors, or booth renters. This means they didn’t qualify for unemployment (since nobody fired them) or PPP Loans (since they’re not employers). Instead, many artists took out traditional loans to keep up rent. Some simply had to shut down.
  • The tattoo industry itself is still maturing. For example, it wasn’t even until 2000 that a judge overturned a Massachusetts ban that prohibited anyone but a healthcare professional from giving people tattoos. The industry has no lobbyists, unions, or formal trade representatives.

And as locked down states opened, tattoo parlors got left behind. In California, they were not allowed to re-open alongside barber shops, nail salons, or beauty parlors despite being in the same personal care industry. One artist even argues tattoo artists are more equipped to keep shops safe given they have to study bloodborne pathogens, cross contamination, and airborne diseases as a part of their job. Some California artists ended up suing the state. They ultimately lost, and a month later only some regions allowed tattoo parlors to re-open despite the state now permitting them all to. California fully opened this past Tuesday.

What can be done to help? Some artists are using their social media platforms to garner support. While many are booked up to six months out due to sudden demand — such as one California artist seeing three times her usual bookings — extra tips can help pull artists out of their lockdown debt.  

Some additional resources... 

  • Full coverage: Vox
  • Desire to get inked: Refinery29
  • Massachusetts’ former ban: ACLU
  • Tattoo artist lawsuit: NPR and CBS

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Are you a newspaper?

No, why?

Because there seems to be a new issue with you everyday.

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