March 2009 Site of the Month: Green Drinks International

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, you’ll probably see, hear about, or maybe even drink beer that’s been tinted green. But if you’re more interested in networking with other folks who share your concern for the environment than in gimmicks, skip the green grog and check out the Green Drinks International web site to see if regular Green Drinks events are held in your area. According to the web site, “Every month people who work in the environmental field meet up at informal sessions known as Green Drinks. We have a lively mixture of people from NGOs, academia, government and business. Come along and you’ll be made welcome. Just say, “are you green?” and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there. It’s a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making new contacts. Everyone invites someone else along, so there’s always a different crowd, making Green Drinks an organic, self-organising network.” The events are locally organized and typically take place at bars, restaurants, coffee houses, cafes, etc.–anywhere where people can meet and share ideas. Some gatherings include a speaker or theme to help stimulate discussion, but remain largely informal. Events vary from city to city, but all follow the Green Drinks Code.

Green Drinks events are currently held in 448 cities around the world, including many in the Great Lakes region. Chicago, for example, has a very popular Green Drinks gathering that averages “at least 75 people at each event.” Just use the “Find City” function on the Green Drinks web site to determine if an existing gathering is taking place near you, and to get more details.  Browse the “News” and “Stories” sections of the site to get updates on Green Drinks gatherings around the world and to read newspaper and magazine articles describing local groups to help you get a feel for what these informal events are like and what participants get out of them. And if there’s not a gathering in your area, you can learn how to start one.

These gatherings are decentralized, allowing each participating city to “do its own thing,” ensuring that the events suit the needs and interests of the local community. Each city can even come up with its own logo if desired, like the ones featured in this post.

As budgets get tighter and travel to out-of-state events becomes more and more difficult to justify, programs like Green Drinks can help environmental professionals feel less isolated by providing face-to-face networking opportunities at home. Plus, you never know what new opportunities or information you might find in your own backyard.

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