Sunday, January 10, 2010

Green Drinks

By this point some of you probably picture my road to greenness as an unpaved gravelly path travelled only by determined people wearing Birkenstocks and being serious all the time. But if you just let me tell you about one of my favorite discoveries in the past year, you may change your mind.

The discovery? Green Drinks. There is a chapter in New Haven, organized by now-Alderman Justin Elicker and Debra Lombard, LEED AP which meets every third Wednesday in a different local bar, featuring reduced price drinks, free appetizers and a special guest. How cool is this — meeting over local brews to discuss things Green?

The first Green Drinks was held in London in 1989. There are now 656 chapters in 62 countries. The Green Drinks International website promises: “These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had moments of serendipity. It's a force for the good and we'd like to help it spread to other cities.”

At our first Green Drinks we were met outside the door of the Anchor Bar by the local unicycle club, which was hoping to drum up some new members. OK, perhaps a little scary. But it was a hot summer night, and a cold brew would taste soooo good. The bar was crowded. The program was called to order by a person who could mimic the sound of a police siren and thus invoke silence for a fleeting moment or two. We had gathered to learn about solar panels. There was no elbow room and the speaker could hardly be heard over the din, but he was enthusiastic and persistent and had a panel with him for show-and-tell. We stayed a long time and indulged in some terrific sweet potato fries, got to handle the panel, and made some new friends. We were hooked.

At other Green Drinks, we have heard about Smart Growth, local honey and single-stream-recycling, as well as the theory that those in power are actually aliens who are trying to guide us to Mars.

For those in New Haven, note that I am posting far enough ahead that you can actually plan to attend the next Green Drinks, Wednesday, January 20, 6-8pm at the WestSide Bar & Grille in Westville.

For the rest of you, check out the website and search for the branch nearest you. There are active chapters in Pittsfield and Framingham, MA; in Philadelphia, PA; in suburban Chicago; in Palo Alto, CA; and in Copenhagen, to name but a few. If you do not find your city, the website has guidelines for setting up your own chapter.

At Green Drinks you never know what old friends you will see, what new ones you might meet, or what new idea you might encounter. But you can be sure that if you arrive there with an open heart and open mind, you are likely to come away with an expanded vision of the world, and it won’t just be a consequence of the drinks.

Have no fear, the drinks aren’t really green. (Unless, perhaps, your chapter happens to meet on St. Patrick’s Day.)

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