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Stories about Green Drinks

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Group blends beverages and environmental talk

By Marquita Brown, The Roanoke Times, March 19th 2008 
The premise is simple: Meet for some beverages and have a chat.

But there's more to the region's first chapter of Green Drinks International than that.

Big Lick Green Drinks, based in Salem and founded in June, meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at All Sports Cafe on Main Street.

The group's Web site describes its gatherings this way: "'Greenies' across the Roanoke Valley getting together for socializing, a bite to eat &, of course, cocktails!!! (you don't have to drink alcohol, just a plus for those of us who do!) ... Sometimes we focus on a particular topic, other times just whatever is on our minds."

Stay-at-home mom and Salem native Carrie Cox started the group. She was searching for Earth Day activities and found the Web site of the international group, which advocates environmental consciousness. Her interest piqued, Cox searched for area chapters.

She said Virginia's only group was in Richmond.

So she started her own chapter. The Salem-based group is one of Green Drinks' 355 local organizations around the world. Green Drinks was founded in 1989 at a pub in London.

Cox said she chose the local name Big Lick -- what the Roanoke Valley used to be called more than a hundred years ago -- out of a desire to invite anyone in the area to join.

"In the '50s and '60s, they had bridge clubs and garden parties, but we don't do that anymore," Cox said. "In Europe and other countries, they go to a pub. Not that alcohol is a prerequisite by any means, but it's just that there's nothing wrong with that."

But there can be some issues with how to advertise for members of a "green" group. Cox said she was conflicted about using paper to advertise, but she did post a few fliers around Salem and Roanoke, created a Yahoo listserv for the group as well as a MySpace page. The resulting number of people attending their meetings has ranged from four to, most recently, 22.

Cox said the social draw of the event -- to be around people with similar interests -- accentuates the interest in environmental issues.

The Salem group isn't limited to adults, Cox said, and some parents have brought their children along.

And though the group is still in its infancy, Cox has arranged guest speakers for the past few meetings including Gregg Lewis, a co-owner of Smith-Lewis Architecture, a firm that promotes green building and is working on the Salem Museum expansion. Other guest speakers have included Lisa Garst, a city council candidate, and Mandy Phelps, a Roanoke College student who started a green events promotion group.

"The success of Big Lick Green Drinks means that being green is now a vital part of our consciousness in the Roanoke Valley," Cynthia Munley, a Salem resident, said in an e-mail. "Voters will be looking for leaders who respond in their platforms and policies to this new awareness."

In Salem, that conversation has included a variety of things such as all-natural laundry detergent and concerns about Norfolk Southern Corp.'s proposed intermodal rail yard.

Most recently, the group hosted a victory party after The Roanoke Times reported that NS ruled Salem out as a site for its intermodal rail yard.

At the group's February meeting, Heart's "Crazy on You" and Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" wafted in and out of Lewis' discussion of the green technology that will be used in the Salem Museum expansion. Sometimes, the music drowned him out.

Cox shared that her family owned the Williams-Brown House before giving it the museum, and she was happy about the proposed changes.

"It's really impressive," group member Mark McClain said. "When they talked about expanding it, I had no idea."

Scott Craig said he checked the meeting out because his girlfriend is in the Sierra Club.

"It's OK," Cox told him. "My husband only comes along because of the beer thing, too."

Source: http://www.roanoke.com/news/wb/155106


Green Drinks discusses environmental issues

By Anna Ferguson, The Brunswick News, Georgia, February 26th 2008 
Holding a drink in one hand and environmental concerns in the other, Ashby Nix sat attentively listening as Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson discussed eco-issues circulating through the city.

It was a meeting of the minds and a clinking of the drinks - and it was exactly what Nix had hoped it would be.

Green Drinks, a new area environmental social group, met for the first time Feb. 19. Nix was there for the premier event, and was pleasantly surprised with the turnout.

"I thought the event was something that we've needed in lower coastal Georgia for a while," Nix said. "It was better than I expected, but then again, I'm not surprised that everyone really enjoyed themselves and had fun meeting some like-minded people."

Slated to meet once a month in various restaurants around the county, the Green Drinks group brings together researchers, students, eco-leaders and the general public to learn about area environmental issues.

Liz Brown, a fisheries/seafood specialist with the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service at Brunswick, heard about the international Green Drinks program a few months ago and thought it was precisely what was missing in the Golden Isles.

The state has two other Green Drink chapters - one in Atlanta, one in Savannah.

Gathering two co-workers from the extension service, Brown, Katie Hoover and Karen Gioviego organized the group in Brunswick.

"The group follows the idea of think-global, act-local," said Gioviego.
"We want to show people what they can do right here in their community to create sustainability and begin environmentally friendly habits, to get discussions started. Anyone with an interest in that is encouraged to come on out."

At the group's first meeting, Thompson spoke to about 35 individuals, ranging from twentysomethings to baby boomers, from scientists to the general public, from Heineken drinkers to soda sippers.

No topic is off limits for the group, as long as it pertains to the environment. And as long as the lecture is no more than half an hour.

"We don't want it to be all about sitting and listening," Brown said.
"Green Drinks is a social time, too."

So far, Brown has compiled a list of organizations interested having someone speak to the group. It's a list long enough to provide about three years worth of presentations, she said.

"There are a lot of groups in the area we'd like to hear from," Brown said. "I had no idea there were so many environmental organizations in the area until we all started brainstorming."

For upcoming meetings, Brown has on the agenda a variety of possible speakers, including Sea Island Co. naturalist Stacia Hendricks, Dana Pope from St. Simons Land Trust and Dawn Zinger of the Tidelands environmental program on Jekyll Island.

Keeping in step with its eco-friendly motto, Green Drinks doesn't circulate flyers or mail invitations. Instead, all correspondence is done via e-mail and word of mouth.

To join the Green Drinks mailing list, e-mail Liz Brown at brownliz@uga.edu or call (912) 264-7222. The date and location of a March meeting has not been set.


'Happy hour' goes green: 'Third Wednesday' series focuses on renewable energy, environment

By RICHIE DAVIS The Greenfield Recorder, Tuesday, February 19, 2008 
Drinking of ''grasshoppers'' or Midori cocktails like ''The Grinch'' will be purely optional at the first in a monthly series of ''green drinks'' events Wednesday in Greenfield.

You can think of it as a down-to-earth ''happy hour'' to explore what renewable energy is all about and ways to take better care of the environment.

The series, which opens this Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Hope and Olive in Greenfield and will be hosted by a different ''watering hole'' the third Wednesday of each month, is the brainchild of Turners Falls filmmaker Carlyn Saltman, who helped create the EarthThrives.com Web site as a way to get people to share stories about saving energy.

After a November panel discussion about vital downtowns, it seemed like a way to foster discussion of ideas about energy conservation and the choices we make, she said.

''There's no shortage of projects,'' she said, ''but there is a shortage of cross-fertilization among various groups and perspectives. This is meant to be informal and enrich people's thinking and decisions.''

The idea came from Green Drinks International, an umbrella group for an international collection of informal gatherings around the planet -- including Northamp-ton, Pittsfield and Great Barrington. Those events, described online at www.greendrinks.org are intended for ''people who work in the environmental field,'' but the new Franklin County series recognizes that we all work -- and play -- in the environmental field, whether we know it or not.

''This is a place for people to ask questions in an open-minded way,'' said Saltman, who hopes the series will bring about greater understanding among ''neighbors and colleagues we don't usually get to talk with about these issues. … Just open-minded, open-ended conversation.''

The second session is also planned at Hope & Olive, March 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with future postings listed on the Greenfield Business Association Web site, www.greenfieldbusiness.org



Grassroots 'Green' Gatherings Held

By Pat Rogers, The Southampton Press, February 2008
By now, nearly everyone knows that "green" means being conscious about the environment and conserving resources. How to go about being kind to the earth can be a trickier concept. Recycling, hybrid cars and energy-efficient appliances are ways readily known.
To increase awareness of other options and to make the East End a little greener, there's a new option: Raise a glass and start socializing at the next Hamptons Green Drinks gathering.

Held once a month, Hamptons Green Drinks combines networking, an informational lecture and lots of socializing. Mostly, it's a chance for like-minded people to meet and connect. The cumulative effect is that a range of environmental-friendly possibilities are revealed. With people turning out in droves, organizers think there's a strong possibility a viable green movement will take hold on the East End—and while that's not a reason for the formation of Hamptons Green Drinks, it certainly wouldn't be a bad side effect.

"We're not trying to start a movement," said Chuck Schwartz of LI Green who cofounded Hamptons Green Drinks with certified ecobroker Catherine Bedard of Century 21 Agawam Albertson. Both have businesses based in Southampton. "This is a social group that is meant to bring together people with common interests. If we start something, great. But that's not the intention right now."

"We all have a foothold in a part of the green business," said Michael Brylewski of Organic Cleaning of Hampton Bays. "Going green isn't a matter of choice anymore. We have to do what works for the environment. People are starting to realize that making choices that are good for the planet is also better for their own environments and families … Green Drinks is a social way to get together and find out what else is out there."

So far, Hamptons Green Drinks has created quite a stir. Its first meeting on December 6 drew around 40 people by word of mouth alone. The second meeting, on January 31, packed the bar of Town Line BBQ in Sagaponack with about 60 people. People traveled near and far to be there. While most were from East Hampton and Southampton towns, there were people who live or work in Nassau County, Ronkonkoma, Setauket, Smithtown and other Long Island towns. Each had been invited via e-mail by someone living locally or had attended Green Drinks meetings elsewhere on Long Island. Green Drinks is an international grass roots initiative. The second Hamptons Green Drinks meeting drew people representing companies who perform organic cleaning services and organic landscaping, who sell electric cars and zero impact construction. A new coalition called Hamptons Green Alliance was officially unveiled by its founder, Frank Dalen of East Hampton, while he mingled among the crowd. The Alliance is launching two websites to present practical information and hopes to form a group of builders to meet their goals of constructing zero energy and carbon neutral homes. And invitations to the Ecological Landscape Management Symposium were passed out by its sponsors, Roger Feit and James Sottilo of Treewise in East Hampton.

Hamptons Green Drinks also drew representatives from the Southampton renewable energy company, Sunstream USA, and Muur-Lab, an architectural design firm that creates three-dimensional visualization tools from recycled materials that are themselves then recycled. There was an interior redesigner who works with existing furnishings and possessions, a marketing and business coach specializing in environmental companies and a manager from LIPA's conservation services group. A mover and shaker from the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council milled through the crowd. So did real estate brokers and the curious who had no connections to green businesses.

Unlike many networking meetings, there wasn't an aggressive exchange of business cards or brochures. There were a lot of conversations that ran the gamut from "What do you do?" to describing the happenings of family, relationships and life.
Ms. Bedard said that being green isn't something that has to be explained anymore; it's something that people already do. People are mostly interested in finding ways to reduce spending while being kinder to the planet, she said. That includes cutting fuel consumption, lowering utility bills, reducing carbon emissions and pollution in general. Hamptons Green Drinks hopes to create an informal referral system among business people so anyone can discover and learn about additional green techniques and building options. She also hopes Hamptons Green Drinks will create an identifiable green community on the East End.
"We're just getting started," she said. "Anything can happen."

To add something extra, each gathering will have a speaker who will give a brief informational talk. The interim dean of Stony Brook Southampton kicked off the series with a presentation on the school's new sustainable majors and sustainable building aspirations. After a brief history of the Stony Brook–Southampton College transition, Dr. Martin Schoonen revealed that the school's new undergraduate majors are environmental design, sustainable studies and ecosystems and human impact. The school will practice what it preaches by using green architecture when it rebuilds the infrastructure and its food service will buy local or organic produce, the dean said. Dr. Schoonen said the college is open to holding conferences and tossed out the possibility of a green conference. He also welcomed businesses to contact the school if they have green internships to offer their students.

Afterward, people continued to mingle. Several approached Dr. Schoonen and struck up conversations—exactly what Mr. Schwartz hoped for.
"That's what Green Drinks is all about," Mr. Schwartz said, "making connections and learning about different areas that can make a difference."

Hamptons Green Drinks will try to meet the last Thursday of every month from 6 to 9p.m.This month's meeting will be held a week late on March 6th at 75 Main in Southampton. Forinformation,  visitwww.ligreen.com/greendrinks.



Happy Hour has Gone Green

By Rita Hart, Hometown News, St Lucie County Florida, February 8th 2008 
FORT PIERCE - Treasure Coast residents now have the opportunity to meet friends over drinks while at the same time learning how to be more "green." And it's got nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day.

John O'Neill, of Port St. Lucie, is an independent distributor for Infection Control Technology, while Jeffrey P. "JP" Gellermann is the growth management agent for the University of Florida's St. Lucie County Extension, Institute of Flood and Agricultural Sciences.

Together, the two friends traveled to West Palm Beach with their wives to attend a meeting of people interested in sustainability, or self-sufficiency options for the future. While there, they sat next to a member of Boca Raton's Green Drinks International. They were "blown away" by what they learned that evening, and decided to form the first Green Drinks International organization on the Treasure Coast.

Their first meeting was held on Tuesday, Jan. 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Alumni's International Grill in downtown Fort Pierce.

"We would have been excited if 15 people came," said Mr. O'Neill. "But 115 people showed up."

Green Drinks has more than 315 chapters worldwide. According to their Web site, "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."

Mr. O'Neill said the informal atmosphere allows people from all walks of life to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere, sharing ideas both simple and large and getting everyone personally and professionally involved in a sustainable future.

"It brings everybody to the same level and tremendous things happen," said Mr. O'Neill. "Powerhouses speak with local government officials. These are people who might never come into contact with each other."

At the first meeting last month, Fort Pierce Mayor Bob Benton, members of the planning staff of St. Lucie County and members of the St. Lucie County School Board all mingled with local residents and business leaders. There were five speakers at the event, with each being allowed just five minutes to talk about their ideas for going green. The speakers are advised to stay away from politically charged discussions.

"It's a win-win," said Mr. Gellermann. "If you are green, you are going to save money and make money."

The group plans on meeting the last Tuesday of every month. Next month's locale will again be at Alumni's International Grill beginning at 6:30 p.m. This time, however, everyone who arrives with one fluorescent light bulb will receive one free drink. In exchange, Alumni's International Grill will donate those light bulbs to area non-profit organizations that need them, such as Habitat for Humanity.

One outcome of last month's meeting resulted from a simple conversation between a local environmental service business owner and the owner of Alumni's International Grill.

"The business agreed to take the leftover grease from the restaurant and use it on their farm," said Mr. O'Neill. "That's exactly the kind of thing we want to see happen."

Mr. Gellermann agreed that individuals who share stories of what they are doing to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable is what Green Drinks is all about.

"We love to hear some crazy, out-of-the-box type of things. We'd love to have that happen," he said.

And, perhaps, make a few new friends along the way.

Green Drinks International meets the last Tuesday of every month.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Alumni's International Grill, 122 North Second St., Fort Pierce. Those interested in attending should contact John O'Neill at activteck@aol.com.

For more information on Green Drinks International, visit www.greendrinks.org.



Hi. Buy You a Drink? Save the Planet?

By WENDY CARLSON, New York Times, January 20, 2008 
IT was a typical pub scene at the Pirate Night Club and Restaurant in Norwalk on a recent evening, except that the banter around the bar was about bamboo, not baseball, and the drinks were green in the organic sense.

“The environment is on a lot of people’s minds,” said Heather Burns-DeMelo, 37, the founder of Fairfield County Green Drinks, a social networking group of eco-minded professionals, which held its fourth monthly meeting here on a recent Wednesday evening.

On this occasion, the mixer drew about 100 people, uniting a wide range of environmentalists, including business executives, members of the Green Party, carpenters, chefs, makeup artists, architects, fashion designers and schoolteachers.

Ms. Burns-DeMelo, the editor of the Hartford-based AllGreen Magazine and the Web site CTGreenScene.typepad.com, said she learned about Green Drinks International when she was working as a freelance writer covering environmental issues.

The organization, which now has 309 chapters worldwide, began in 1989 in a London pub with an impromptu gathering of eco-conscious fashion designers.

Seeing a similar need in Connecticut’s green business community, Ms. Burns-DeMelo started a Fairfield County chapter in October, then helped organize a chapter in Hartford. The two groups now have a combined mailing list of 9,000. Next month, they will gather in Westport.

The events aren’t just about networking. “It’s really a think tank with the environment as the common denominator, and I have seen a little matchmaking going here, too,” Ms. Burns-DeMelo said.

Entrepreneurs mingled with activists, swapping business cards, parading products, ranging from organic juices to photovoltaic backpacks, and trumpeting eco-themed services. The organic wine and spirits flowed.

“What I love about GreenDrinks is that I get to talk to people who aren’t all architects; it’s like cross-pollinating,” said Andrew Zumwalt-Hathaway, 38, a sustainable-building consultant with a Norwalk company.

He held court at one corner of the bar extolling waterless urinals. Using gel filters instead of flushing water means less bacteria growth and less smell, he said.

Darek Shapiro, a Stamford architect and sustainable-energy consultant who ran for mayor of Stamford on the Green Party line, was touting the efforts of Clean Water Action, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group that is lobbying for a bill to support financing and tax breaks for low-income households to better weatherize their homes.

“Instead of the state giving money to people who can’t afford to pay their heating bills, the state should cover the cost to better insulate and weatherstrip their homes so their heating bills are affordable,” Mr. Shapiro said.

A newcomer to Fairfield County Green Drinks, Herster Barres, 74, a retired United Nations forestry expert from Mystic, held two seedlings aloft as he maneuvered his way through the crowd. He came to spread his cause, Reforest the Tropics Inc., a climate-change initiative to plant fast-growing trees in Costa Rica to offset carbon emissions.

Upstairs in the nightclub, the dance floor was filling up. A younger set of environmentalists, several in army-green coats and T-shirts, swayed as Brian Howard Clark, 28, the Home and Eco-Tips Editor for The Daily Green, a Hearst web magazine, spun vinyl from his vintage collection. And the organic wine flowed on.



New Group Talks Over “Green Drinks”

By Kelly Garrison, Features Editor, Grunion Gazette, Long Beach, January 10th 2008 

Business owners, residents, students, environmentalists and government officials have joined together to take the environmental concept of being “green” to a new level.

The Long Beach group has begun meeting up once a month for a “Green Drinks Long Beach” session, where they sit back and sip to the sounds of conversation about how to help the planet. Organizer Jenny Caronna said the meetings provide a casual venue for adults to network and share ideas with one another.

“It’s really informal, and there are people from all walks of life - from regular citizens and people from the green party to student activists and business owners,” she said. “It’s a way for people that normally never meet up to get together and bond.”

Caronna organized the first meeting in October. Since then, the group has met on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the House of Hayden bar downtown, although this month, she has switched the site to the Gaslamp Restaurant and Bar on Pacific Coast Highway.

It’s a much different experience, she said, than simply meeting in a conference room.

“The drinks are a big part of it,” Caronna explained. “Drinks make it informal and casual.”

The group isn’t alone in its unique strategy to help the world, either. The Green Drinks International movement has reached all over the United States and to other countries since its beginnings. Caronna had been attending sessions in Orange County before starting the Long beach venue, she said.

“It bothered us that there wasn’t one here,” she said. “There are so many people who are interested in the environment. It’s the perfect location for it. Long Beach has some really passionate people, but they don’t get together. We needed a forum where they could meet.”

As for the future of Green Drinks Long Beach, Caronna says her biggest hope is that the group will grow in its number of attendees. Currently, 15 to 20 people usually attend each meeting.

“It’s a great grassroots effort with no agenda other than ‘green,’” she said. “We really feel that we need to get the word out and get more people to join.”

She is the founder of the Long Beach-based company, Fundraising Green, which helps people raise money for environmental causes. Its services include providing schools and other entities with coupon books that benefit green causes.

The next Green Drinks session will take place from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Gaslamp Restaurant and Bar, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.

For more information about Green Drinks, visit www.GreenDrinks.org, or e-mail jenny@fundraisinggreen.com.



Social Groups Uniting the Eco-Conscious 

By MARCELLE S. FISCHLER, New York Times, December 9, 2007

THE choice of organic wine was red or white, but the conversation at the Cinema Arts Center on a recent evening was decidedly green. Even the music had environmental credentials: Edgar Mills, 54, whose EcoJazz Band was performing, has a windmill-powered recording studio in Huntington.

“There is a new kind of environmentalism happening now,” said David P. Sibek, 54, the founder of Green Drinks Long Island, a social networking group for the eco-conscious, which held its fourth monthly mixer here on Nov. 29.

“It’s an environmentalism that embraces a lot more than tree-huggers,” Mr. Sibek said. “It’s an environmentalism that is embracing people who are involved with making money with the green economy.”

Mr. Sibek, a lawyer who until recently worked for a nonprofit group and said he would prefer to “do something green for a living,” was browsing the Internet last spring when he came across Green Drinks International. The organization, with 302 chapters worldwide, was started in London in 1989. Mr. Sibek decided to found a local group, which now has a mailing list of 550.

Working on this occasion with Tom Pellicane and Matthew O’Grady, publishers of Canvas, a Huntington-based eco-themed monthly arts and culture magazine, Mr. Sibek drew 80 people paying $25 each, from “old-fashioned traditional activists” to “the new green business people” to public officials. The event was also sponsored by the Long Island chapter of the Sierra Club.

Leah Lisa Sontag, an event coordinator and saleswoman for the Solar Center, a solar electric and hot water installation company that opened in Huntington in October, came to “spread the word about solar.”

“I am a natural networker,” said Ms. Sontag, 33, handing out her business card.

Alice Bergida-Bleier, 58, and her daughter, Joey Bergida, 29, who work for Long Island Village Realty in Syosset and call themselves “eco-brokers,” said they were “trained and certified” to help sellers tout, and buyers find, homes with “green features.”

They said they hoped to foster connections with experts who could help their clients make their homes more energy efficient and help them qualify for “green mortgages” based on lower utility bills.

Harry Martinian, director of programs for the Center for Leadership Performance, a school and spa based in Deer Park that offers training in Transcendental Meditation, wanted to see who might be interested in an alternative approach to environmental issues.

“Climate change begins in our head,” Mr. Martinian said. “The stress and the tension in the workplace is not helping us make the right decisions.”

Mark A. Cuthbertson, a Huntington town councilman, took the opportunity to announce his commitment to make the arts center “a green energy demonstration project,” with solar panels and other renewable energy features.

Similar networking groups are cropping up elsewhere on the Island. Thursday on the East End, Chuck Schwartz, a co-founder of LI Green, a nonprofit community development corporation focused on energy efficiency and pollution reduction, and Catherine Bedard, another “eco broker,” launched Hamptons Green Drinks, with a gathering at the Townline BBQ in Sagaponack.

Separately, for the last year, the Long Island chapter of the United States Green Building Council, which promotes sustainable design, has been holding monthly Sustainable Cocktails networking evenings for its 150 to 200 members at Butterfields, a Hauppauge restaurant, said Michael Gianchetta, a member of the council’s executive board.

In remarks at the arts center, Stuart P. Besen, a Huntington town councilman, said that last year he sponsored a law giving free beach passes and free meter and train station parking for those who drive hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles. He also pushed for a recently passed law making it easier to go green.

“This is the time if you want to put in an application at town hall for solar panels,” Mr. Besen said. “I promise you, we will fast-track it and waive all the fees.”





By RUSTY DENNEN, The Fredericksburg Free Lance Star 4th November 2007 

 Dan Dukes started a local chapter of Green Drinks, a social mixer where people exchange green ideas.

They nursed beers, cocktails and glasses of wine, but it wasn't your typical bar crowd milling around the back room at TruLuv's restaurant in Fredericksburg.

The conversation was not about the Redskins or Red Sox, but rather about the environment and weighty topics such as energy-saving insulation and flooring, and reducing greenhouse gases.

Welcome to Green Drinks, where people come to get the latest in "green" ideas for homes and businesses, and where entrepreneurs in that niche market offer their services.

"It's for people interested in the environment to meet once a month after work to talk in a social setting," said Daniel Dukes, founder of Green Drinks Fredericksburg.

The concept started a few years ago in Europe and spread to the United States.

It's a way to get ideas and to make connections for a common purpose, said Dukes, 36, a home builder who specializes in energy- and resource-saving construction.

Dukes and his wife, April Smith, went to a Green Drinks chapter meeting in Richmond, and decided it would be convenient to have one here. The couple live in Falmouth.

"So one thing led to another," Dukes said. The first session was held in August at The Loft downtown. Dukes talked to friends and business associates, and about 18 people showed up.

The next meeting was held at the Kenmore Inn. There's typically schmoozing, light snacks and a short program.

Among those at TruLuv's was Maureen Kendall of Kendall Flooring in Stafford County.

"I'm very interested in environmentally friendly products," said Kendall. Cork, bamboo and certain varieties of eucalyptus, for example, are resilient and come from sustainable sources.

"I'm not really here to sell, but to let people know that if they are remodeling, they can save trees and [reduce] global warming," she said.

Forrest and Kathleen Kennedy of Lake of the Woods wanted to know where to get "green" building supplies, such as spray-foam insulation and paints that release fewer air-polluting volatile organic compounds.

They plan to do as many green projects as they can afford.

"It would be wonderful to do it from the ground up, but we can't do that," Forrest Kennedy said.

William Hedger, building-site supervisor for Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity, said green features, especially energy-saving construction and appliances, can save money for clients on limited incomes.

The group is now building EarthCraft homes with a universal design. EarthCraft is a green building program that helps homeowners save money on utility bills while protecting the environment.

Green Drinks: groups.google.com/group/fredgreendrinks Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
mail: rdennen@freelancestar.com

WHO: Open to all WHAT: Green Drinks Fredericksburg, which meets monthly over drinks to talk about the environment and sustainability issues. The next topic is EarthCraft House Virginia. WHEN: Nov. 29, 6-8 p.m. WHERE: The Loft, 1005 Princess Anne St. 


University hosts networking event for the sustainable-minded

Goldstream News Gazette, Friday, July 13 2007. By Edward Hill, Special to the News Gazette

Photo caption: Green Drinks Victoria organizer the late Roger Colwill (left) and sustainability author Guy Dauncey speak in the shadow of Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University.

They say it’s not easy being green, but while relaxing on the lawn behind Hatley Castle with a view of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, somehow it’s not that hard either.

Royal Roads University in Colwood played host Tuesday to Green Drinks, a growing social networking event for those seeking green thinking in their communities and economies.

Green Drinks is hosted in dozens of cities across Canada and more than 240 cities around the world. Roger Colwill, a vice-president with International Composting Corp., launched the event in Victoria last September, after prompting from noted sustainability author Guy Dauncey.
Starting with 150 environmental professionals and activists at a downtown café, Colwill says the Victoria chapter is the fastest growing Green Drinks the world. The Royal Roads event surpassed all expectations, drawing more than 300 people for salmon burgers and beer.

“Green Drinks is quite amorphous, quite unique. We have presidents, scientists, politicians, social activists and people from everyday walks of life coming together to share ideas,” Colwill said. “There is no equivalent meeting like this.”

Appropriate to a social gathering focused on sustainability, most people arrived at Royal Roads on bike via the Galloping Goose Trail from Victoria, although the distance champion pedaled from Salt Spring Island. A few people drove in their electric, bio-diesel or vegetable-oil fuelled cars. Ichiko Sugiyama, 18, walked almost four hours from Saanich.

Shrugging her shoulders, Sugiyama said why shouldn’t she walk? She has two working legs and it was a beautiful day. “I don’t use fuel and it’s healthy,” she said.

Royal Roads University associate vice-president and environmental scientist Steve Grundy noted that the university itself is striving to become a model for sustainability. Grundy described the campus as a potential “living laboratory.”

“We want to go carbon neutral and in 10 years I’d like to see us off the grid. It will be a real challenge but we should set lofty goals,” Grundy said during a speech. “This campus has everything we need — wind, a large elevation drop and tides. It has all the pieces for a self sustaining campus.”

Dauncey lauded Royal Roads commitment to going green through-and-through, saying people and institutions need to take responsibility for their impact on the planet. “If you aren’t trying to make a difference you are part of the problem,” he said.

It was that kind of thinking that drew the who’s who of sustainability movers and shakers to Royal Roads. Dockside Green and Westhills reps pressed their case that property developments can be sustainable and environmentally progressive. Car-share groups, renewable energy companies, and ecological conservation non-profits were on hand to share notes and new ideas.

“The whole sustainability movement in Victoria is close-knit, and all play a role to move toward a healthier future,” said Darlene Tait, with Westhills development, a 6,000-unit project in Langford seeking advanced certification in Leadership in Energy Environmental Design. “The people here have shared philosophy and direction, and we are here to support each other.”

Jody Watson, director of the Esquimalt Lagoon Stewardship Initiative, said Green Drinks has opened new methods for her group’s efforts to restore fragile dune ecosystems along the lagoon’s beach. Watson said Victoria’s International Composting Corp. is helping provide mulch derived largely from household organic waste.

“It is amazing how many environmentally conscious people there are in this area. Green Drinks is wonderful for bringing people together,” Watson said. “The green community is more connected and collaborative. And we get to have a beer.”




Drinking environmentally

Charleston Post and Courer, September 19, 2007

Jason Cronen is a 27-year-old entrepreneur whose tiny business (he has one employee) places advertising on environmentally friendly plates, cups, napkins and packaging.

His products are made from recycled paper and "green plastics," which come from plant sugar.

His biggest contract lately was the CNN/You Tube-sponsored Democratic candidates' debate at The Citadel.

He provided "green" plates, forks, cups and packaging to about 3,000 people there.

But that's not why GMLc called him on the phone.

We called him to find out about the latest drinking-for-a-cause group in the Lowcountry — Green Drinks Charleston.

The discussion group Drinking Liberally Charleston, whose motto is "promoting democracy one pint at a time," started about a year and a half ago.

Cronen and Charleston green builder Dean Johnson founded Green Drinks Charleston last fall.

Green Drinks Charleston is part of Green Drinks International which has chapters of environmental networkers in 252 cities worldwide. Green Drinks was founded by a London designer in 1989 after an impromptu pub chat.

For almost a year, Cronen and Johnson had the usual stops and starts in getting the group organized.

"You start a new community venture, especially in a place like Charleston which has more traditional offerings, and you're gonna encounter a little organizational headaches," Cronen said.

But Green Drinks, which settled on The Trusted Palate on King Street as a meeting place, now has 150 people on its mailing list, 60 of them active members (there are no dues).

The meeting last Wednesday night brought out 40 people, Cronen said. "We had a professor from the College of Charleston, somebody from S.C. Sea Grant (Consortium), somebody from the (S.C.) Aquarium. It was pouring rain outside. I was really, really impressed that we had that kind of turnout in the rain.

"The point is to network ... We will create talking points for our meetings — on U.S. green building issues and green design, or community redevelopment, or land stewardship and land preservation issues. It's a collective group of people who bring together their experiences on a variety of topics."

"You've got to make it clear to people that it's not all about partying," he added. "We're not here to get drunk. If I want to get drunk, I'll go to a Jimmy Buffett concert. Not everything in Charleston has to involve alcohol."

Well, Charlestonians might debate that point. But moving on ...

Cronen, a New England native who is a few hours short of a degree from College of Charleston, said he plans to keep doing business in the Lowcountry.

He said he's getting ready to start a transportation company, and he wants to work on a nonprofit effort to encourage green building and sustainable communities here.

"I am heavily interested in taking big risks now," he said. "I want to partner on dozens of projects for the benefit of the community. There is the opportunity for a green New Deal in this country."

He said Green Drinks will soon start meeting twice a month (instead of once), in downtown Charleston and west of the Ashley.

Meanwhile, the next monthly meeting of Green Drinks Charleston is Oct. 10, 7 p.m., at the The Trusted Palate, 563 King St. For more information, see greendrinks.org.

Coming to a Bar Near You

By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans, National Geographic Traveler,  November 8th, 2007

Here at Intelligent Travel, we're always up for a round of drinks at the end of the week. But when writer Kathryn O'Shea-Evans told us about Green Drinks, we knew we'd found drinking buddies for life:

When you first hear the name “Green Drinks International,” it sounds like a society for appletini lovers, green tea enthusiasts, or people who’d rather every day was St. Patrick’s Day. Thankfully for everyone involved, it’s none of the above. Founded in London in 1989, the networking organization brings people together over drinks to talk about the environment and what they can do to help.

What started as a group of friends in a London pub 18 years ago has now snowballed into a massive international coalition: Green Drinks now has over 285 member cities, more than half of them established within the past year. You’ll find Green Drinks groups everywhere from Warsaw to Cape Town, Boulder to Beijing. Even SUV-clogged L.A. has a Green Drinks, and it’s one of the most dedicated: unlike most chapters, which meet monthly, the Los Angeles chapter hosts an event every week.

Even the founders are a bit overwhelmed by the groundswell of support. “I think we’ve had more new Green Drinkers over the past 18 months than at any other time over the past 18 years,” says Paul Scott, who founded Green Drinks and still runs the London group. “Green issues are becoming mainstream, rather than a niche for people with woolly hats and weird sandals.”

Margaret Lydecker founded New York City’s Green Drinks in 2002 and has watched it grow into the largest chapter on earth, with over 7,000 members and between 300 to 500 attendees at each event. “To break the ice I go up to a stranger and say, ‘Are you green?’” Lydecker says. The ensuing conversations ricochet between environmental films, business, and eco-fashion to EPA regulations, dating, and green building, she says.

As in other Green Drinks chapters, New York’s members aren’t all talk: at any given time, they’re working to raise funds for environmental non-profits, rally for eco-initiatives, or fight for animal rights in the city. In doing so, they create a network of green-thinking people in a town that is otherwise overwhelmed with consumption. “People tell me they have found a community now where they didn’t have one before, and that it changed their experience living in New York,” Lydecker says. “One guy found his girlfriend, his job, and his roommate at Green Drinks. I love that.”

Green Drinks groups try to keep each meeting simple and unstructured, so conversations—and ideas—flow. "Many people toil away at their desks thinking they have to solve the world's environmental problems themselves," says Lydecker. "But connectivity makes it easier, spreads the weight and makes it more enjoyable." We'll drink to that.



Cheers to the Planet

By Susan Thurston, The St Petersburg Times,  September 20, 2007

Over pints of Guinness and pale ale, the plotting begins.

How can we build more houses that create as much energy as they consume?

How can we get more companies to think beyond recycling?

Sobering stuff for around a bar table. But that's the idea. Get the community talking about environmental-friendly issues in a relaxed, social setting.

It goes like this. Greenies from all kinds of industries get together at a bar once a month to brainstorm and network. They call it Green Drinks.

Sean Brennan started Tampa Bay Green Drinks last year to get local conversations going. The group meets the third Wednesday of every month at MacDinton's Irish Pub & Restaurant. Another Green Drinks group meets the third Friday of every month at the Fly Bar & Restaurant in downtown Tampa.

Attendees range from architects to engineers to real estate agents to interior designers. Every month someone new shows up. Last month it was a couple starting a solar energy company. This month it was a guy interested in making houses from storage containers.

The group has no set agenda. Talk flows with the beer, and it's not unusual for the regular bar crowd to jump into the chatter.

Nelson DeLaRosa came to talk up storage container houses, which are hurricane and termite resistant. He also pitched plans for homes with sod-covered roofs that capture rainwater and lightweight solar panels.

Maybe he'd find an architect and engineer to make it happen.

Maybe he'd just meet some people who think like he does.

Members make no promises to change the world. It's just an opportunity to connect, share and possibly influence.

"Sustainability is a complicated subject," said Tom Szumlic, an architect who teaches environmental design at the Art Institute of Tampa. "It's not just about green."

It's about changing mindsets, he said, and designing communities that give rather than take from the environment.