You just can’t keep a good city down, especially when Mardi Gras is coming.
All around New Orleans, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus outbreak canceled the elaborate parades mobbed by crowds during the Carnival season leading to Fat Tuesday.
Some smaller groups announced no-parade plans before the city did. Pandemic replacements include scavenger hunts for signature trinkets that normally would be thrown from floats or handed out from a streetcar, as well as outdoor art and drive-thru or virtual parades. The prominent Krewe of Bacchus has an app where people can catch and trade virtual trinkets during Carnival and watch a virtual parade Feb. 14, when the parade had been scheduled.
But the “house float” movement started almost as soon as a New Orleans spokesman announced Nov. 17 that parades were off.
That morning, Megan Joy Boudreaux posted what she later called a silly Twitter joke: “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking by.”
But the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, expecting a few friends and neighbors to join. The numbers rose. Thirty-nine subgroups evolved to discuss neighborhood plans.
- Passersby look at dinosaurs on the balcony of a mansion on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans on Jan. 26, 2021. The banner says “Thank you, Mayor, for keeping us safe.” Because pandemic dangers from large and widespread crowds have canceled Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans this year, thousands of people are decorating their homes as floats. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
- place on Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)” data-id=”1426868″ src=”https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?w=900″ srcset=”https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg 3468w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=300,200 300w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=768,512 768w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=1080,720 1080w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=1536,1024 1536w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=2048,1365 2048w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=50,33 50w, https://ktla.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/01/AP21023571583901.jpg?resize=876,584 876w” sizes=”(max-width: 899px) 100vw, 876px”>Jessica Spencer, left, and Carley Sercovich discuss the progress of Mardi Gras “house float” decorations at Sercovich’s home in the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans on Jan. 15, 2021. All around the city, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus pandemic has canceled parades that usually take place on Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
- Thom Karamus shows his paper mache head of the hookah-smoking caterpillar from “Alice in Wonderland,” on Jan. 14, 2021, in New Orleans. All around the city, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus pandemic has canceled parades that usually take place on Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
- Parade float workers Travis Keene, left, and Joey Mercer position a pelican while fellow crew member Chelsea Kamm, right, looks on while decorating a house in New Orleans on Jan. 8, 2021. All around the city, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus pandemic has canceled parades that usually take place on Mardi Gras. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
By Carnival season’s official start Jan. 6, the group had more than 9,000 members, including out-of-state “expats.” About 3,000, including a few as far afield as England and Australia, will have their houses on an official online map, said Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, one of two mapmakers.
Houses are to be decorated at least two weeks before Fat Tuesday, which is Feb. 16 this year. With widespread addresses and two weeks to gawk, the hope is that people will spread out widely in time and space.
“I didn’t think I was starting a Mardi Gras krewe. Here I am,” Boudreaux said. “I’ve got myself a second full-time job.”
Discussions in the Facebook groups include how-tos, ads for props and neighborhood themes. Artists have given livestreamed outdoor lessons.
Katie Bankens posted that her block’s theme was Shark Week staycation paradise. When a resident worried that she was not “crafty” enough, administrator Carley Sercovich replied that if they could play music and throw trinkets to neighbors, “you are perfect for this Krewe!”
Boudreaux also suggested that people could hire or buy from out-of-work Carnival artists and suppliers hit by the parade cancellation. A spreadsheet of artists and vendors followed. One of them, artist Dominic “Dom” Graves, booked more than 20 five-person classes in professional papier mache techniques, at $100 a person.
Devin DeWulf, who already had started two pandemic charities as head of the Krewe of Red Beans walking club, kicked the house float idea up a few notches at the suggestion of Caroline Thomas, a professional float designer. Their “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunded lotteries collected enough money to put crews to work decorating 11 houses, plus commissioned work at two more houses and seven businesses.
“We’ve put about 40 people to work, which is nice,” DeWulf said. With Mardi Gras approaching, he said a 12th lottery would be the last.
One commissioned house is rented by a pair of nuns.
Sisters Mary Ann Specha and Julie Walsh, who run a shelter for homeless women with children, had to get permission for their own crowdfunding from the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. “They loved it,” Specha said.
The crowdfunded decorations may be auctioned after Mardi Gras to raise more money, DeWulf said.
Several mansions along a short stretch of St. Charles Avenue had elaborate displays with signs noting their creation by one of the city’s biggest float-making studios.
Tom Fox, whose wife, Madeline, painted a Spongebob Squarepants scene and made jellyfish from dollar store bowls, said he thinks a new tradition may have begun.
“Even when Mardi Gras comes back, I think people are going to keep doing this,” he said.
Mission Oxygen: How Swasth, the telemedicine app is crowdfunding to help hospitals save lives
As India is battling the resurging of COVID cases, Hospitals and healthcare providers are running out of resources in the fight against COVID-19 and the situation on the ground is dire. Hospitals urgently need more oxygen cylinders and concentrators to save as many lives as possible.
New Delhi, Apr 26: As India is battling the resurging of COVID cases, Hospitals and healthcare providers are running out of resources in the fight against COVID-19 and the situation on the ground is dire. Hospitals urgently need more oxygen cylinders and concentrators to save as many lives as possible.
Oxygen is critically required to treat patients affected with COVID, many of whom require hospitalization due to fluctuating oxygen levels. However, there is a severe shortage of oxygen availability across hospitals in India.
Swasth, an app more than the telemedicine app, has started a crowdfunding campaigns acoss such as Milaap, Ketto and Impact Guru to help hospitals across the country get immediate access to oxygen concentrators.
Oxygen Concentrators are being sourced from multiple manufacturers and their distributors. India has little or no local manufacturing, so these are largely being imported. Some of the manufacturers Swasth work with include Yuwell, BPL, Medequip, Nidek, Sanrai depending upon who has availability at our time of need.
They are sourcing needs from across the country using a variety of networks of people on the ground. They will supply across the country and across a mix of institutions – govt/ private providers, various sizes of providers.
This will be based on a process of demand and supply matching with the principle of achieving maximum impact, rapidly. All details of demand, supply, the matching process and the final distribution will be made available in the public domain as transparent as possible.
Within a few hours, they have received the request for over 10,000 oxygen concentrators. The estimated need for India is almost ~200,000 oxygen concentrators. The campaign together is looking to raise $10M fund for the next 10000 oxygen concentrators and is still looking for individuals to contribute to the efforts.
The initial requirement is listed below:
Each high flow oxygen concentrator costs Rs. 85,000 and each low flow concentrator costs Rs 45,000.
• A high flow concentrator costs Rs.85000 / $1130 and treat up to 550 patients with a severe or critical illness.
• A low flow concentrator costs Rs.45000/ $600 and can treat up to 900 patients with mild to moderate illness
Here’s How you can contribute:
Individuals in India: These contributions are eligible for tax benefits for Indian citizens under Sec 80G
a. Donate on Impactguru: https://www.impactguru.com/fundraiser/oxygen
b.Donate on Milaap: https://milaap.org/fundraisers/Donate-for-Oxygen
Individuals in other countries: Donate on Milaap: https://milaap.org/fundraisers/Donate-for-Oxygen. US citizens contributing >$1000 can avail tax exemptions for donations made on Milaap
Individual large grants from India or other countries: For grants > Rs.7,50,000 or $10000, please write to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be simply defined as the grants and funding process under which various Non-profit Organizations (NGOs) can get financial and other assistance from the corporate sector.
Organization based or CSR Funding: To contribute as an organization from India or other countries, please write to us directly at email@example.com
Long term partners: You can also partner with Swasth.app on its longer term mission in accelerating digital health tool adoption across India through open source products. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Soome of the FAQs answered:
So, when will the Oxyegn concentrators reach the providers?
So far, they have already commenced the process of distribution and this will continue on an on-going basis. Swasth have supply tie-ups lined up for procurement and will continue to increase orders as we raise funds. They do understand the providers needs on a weekly basis, including pre-empting needs for 4-6 weeks and are streamlining supply accordingly.
What about the logistics?
Logistics has two components: Import into India and Delivery to the actual location of use. Most suppliers will handle both. For very large orders, they are partnering with global logistics companies/airlines who are directly airlifting the products into India.
For delivery across India, they will typically use the supplier to fulfil. As far as the remote locations concerned, they do leverage local networks for these. So far, they have delivered to remote locations like Gadchiroli and Melghat in Maharashtra, Chikkaballapur in Karnataka, Ganjam in Odisha and Bilaspur in Chattisgarh using suppliers prior to the current wave.
How do I know what impact my contribution has?
They are extremely transparent on demand requests received, supply procured and the process of matching. You will be able to view where funds are being used at an aggregate level and therefore, the impact that your contribution is having. They will also publish impact reports in the public domain for the same.
Bit Bar crowdfunding for new downtown location
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SALEM — Bit Bar will soon have a new home in the heart of downtown Salem.
With the support of a significant crowdfunding campaign, the Salem barcade will be moving to the former site of the Salem Beerworks at 278 Derby St.
“It’s a space that’s been a cultural institution in Salem for decades,” said Bit Bar marketing and special event organizer Rob Hall. “We’re excited to make it something new and exciting.”
The move has been aided by a gofundme page, through which the barcade has raised almost $35,000.
“We were floored that we were able to raise what we’ve had so far,” said Hall. “It’s really gratifying to see people we’ve known over the years thinking of us.”
The campaign offers a variety of incentives for donors, starting with a $30 token punch card for a $25 donation, a $60 token punch card and Bit Bar sticker set for a $50 donation, and a $150 token punch card, T-Shirt, and sticker set for donating $100.
With larger donations, the rewards start to get really fun, with a “tokens for life” member card at $250. At $500, donors can get a two-hour private rental space for up to 30 people with tokens and hors d’oeuvres in the new location’s function room.
At $1,400, donors will be allowed to select a game to be located at Bit Bar for at least two years and will be given a plaque in their honor next to the game, along with a signed piece of Bit Bar game memorabilia and a priceless digital non-fungible token Bit Bar artwork.
Bit Bar has already surpassed its initial goal of $25,000 to offset moving costs and is now hoping to reach some larger goals. The establishment achieved the first of those additional goals — bringing a new $7,500 Rick and Morty pinball machine to the space — on April 2.
Now its ownership is hoping to raise about $6,000 more to bring the first Killer Queen machine, a massive 10-person arcade game, to New England. Hall said the game is a “modern classic” that “has a following throughout the United States,” but it has yet to reach the Northeast.
Bit Bar will remain open at its current location until July and plans to open its new location in August. The owners have shifted their focus toward renting out the full arcade during the pandemic, which includes offering private rentals from Monday to Thursday. The establishment has retained its normal hours, 4 p.m. to midnight for Friday, and noon to 11 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday.
The Salem Beerworks closed permanently during the pandemic, shutting down in March and announcing in June that it would not be able to reopen. The restaurant first opened in 1996.
The Beerworks’ iconic brewery equipment has been removed from the front room of the restaurant, and that space will now be turned into a private venue.
The former Beerworks’ Derby Street space is three times larger than the previous site of Bit Bar at 50 Saint Peter St. Hall plans to expand the arcade’s offerings with that additional space.
Hall said he hopes to add Skee-Ball, Dance Dance Revolution, air hockey, and KTV-style private karaoke rooms. Additional bar and kitchen space will allow Bit Bar to expand its menu options as well, he said.
Bit Bar has signed a 10-year lease at the Derby Street location.
E-Commerce Play Coupang Looks Appealing on the Dip
While there will be volatility for the South Korean e-commerce company Coupang, the future looks particularly bright for CPNG stock.
On March 11, Coupang (NYSE:CPNG) launched its IPO, which was the largest foreign company offering since Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) came public in 2014 (the amount raised was a hefty $25 billion). On the first day of trading CPNG stock surged 41%. The company raised roughly $4.6 billion.
Source: Ki young / Shutterstock.com
Yet CPNG stock has since come under some pressure. The shares have gone from a high of $69 to $43. The market capitalization is currently at about $74.6 billion.
Even though Coupang is a fairly young company – having been founded in 2010 – it has become the largest ecommerce platform in South Korea. Some of its main rivals include Blibli, Jollychic and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), which may be interested in exiting the market.
So with the CPNG stock down, might now be a good time to consider a purchase? Well, let’s take a look.
For Coupang, the goal is to have its customers say, “How did I ever live without Coupang?” And yes, the company has done a standout job in helping to answer this question!
Coupang invested heavily in building a world-class platform. For the most part, it is about not making the typical compromises for ecommerce, such as for customers to choose between fast shipping and low costs.
To do this, Coupang has created a premium subscription service similar to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime. It is called Rocket Wow and allows for great delivery options. For example, there is an offering where customers can get shipments within hours as late as midnight and before 7 a.m. This is available for millions of items.
Something else: Over 75% of parcels delivered have zero packing. This means more convenience but also a positive impact on the environment.
OK, then what about returns? Coupang has a frictionless system for this. There is no need to put an item in a box or label it. Instead, a customer just leaves the product outside his or her door.
Keep in mind that the delivery infrastructure includes 25 million square feet of warehouse space across 30 cities in Korea. About 70% of the country’s population is within seven miles of a fulfillment center. Coupang developed its own transportation network, which has about 15,000 full-time drivers (this is the largest delivery fleet in Korea).
Sophisticated IT has also been critical. Coupang developed artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to handle the dynamic changes in demand and optimize inventory, which have been essential for good customer service.
No doubt, this infrastructure has proven effective for other categories. For example, there is Coupang Eats, which is a food delivery system that’s similar to DoorDash (NYSE:DASH). Then there is Rocket Fresh, which is for the delivery of groceries.
And another big driver for growth is third-party sellers. Coupang’s MyStore makes it possible for businesses to sell to a base of 15 million customers.
Bottom Line on CPNG stock
The market opportunity is definitely large for the company. Korea has the fourth-largest economy in Asia and the e-commerce sector is expected to see significant growth. The estimate is for spending to go from $128 billion in 2019 to $206 by 2024, which amounts to a 10% compound annual growth rate. Korea has advantages like high mobile penetration, a thriving middle class and ubiquitous access to high-speed Internet.
Granted, there are risks factors for investors to keep in mind. After all, the company has accelerated the expiration of the lockup on CPNG shares. This will make 34 million shares available for sale by insiders.
Next, the valuation on CPNG stock is still not cheap. Note that the shares trade at 6x sales. By comparison, Amazon is at 4x.
Yet Coupang is growing much faster and is far from a knock-off. The company has been quite innovative. So all in all, for those investors looking to get exposure to the ecommerce megatrend outside the U.S., CPNG stock is a good way to do this.
On the date of publication, Tom Taulli held a long position in CPNG.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is the author of various books on investing and technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, High-Profit IPO Strategies and All About Short Selling. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s.
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