In 1989 three friends met at a pub in London called the Slug and Lettuce. When they noticed that the people at the next-door table were discussing green issues too, they pulled the tables together, and thus the concept was born.
Evoking freeform and random discussions worldwide
The Green Drinks movement is now global, and local. It is about people meeting up informally over a glass of wine once a month to share ideas for sustainable and conscious living, to network, and to have fun. The meetings are simple and unstructured. Sometimes there may be a speaker or theme for part of the evening to stimulate discussion, but the intention is for the gatherings to be freeform and random.
From free-spirited folk to conscious friends
Meetings are open to anyone, not just those in the environmental field, and they attract a mix of free-spirited people from NGO’s, business and academia through to conscious individuals. People are encouraged to bring friends and to commit to meeting new people at every session. The overall vibe is friendly, open and light. People are invited by word of mouth, and through forwarded email. The email notice I received said to bring ‘An open mind, a good attitude, and some friends.â€ Each participant pays for his or her own drinks or food.
600 cities worldwide
Green Drinks is running in over 50 countries and nearly 600 cities worldwide, and is growing organically. Groups meet once a month, in friendly local venues such as restaurants or pubs. The meetings are non-profit. Each city does its own thing, and there may be several Green Drinks groups in one city, as is the case in Cape Town where there are meetings on the Atlantic Seaboard, Hout Bay, city centre, and Newlands among others. People are welcome to set up Green Drinks in their area, and there are guidelines on the website for doing so. The benefits are apparently hard to quantify formally, but include making new contacts, developing ideas, making deals, making friends, and finding jobs. Green Drinks is essentially a great way to share knowledge, skills, hope and enthusiasm.
Friendly, fun and animated
An email was forwarded to me for the Green Drinks meeting in Newlands at the Josephine Mill. I went along not knowing about the movement and not having visited the Mill before. It is a characterful venue, the people were friendly and animated, and the soup was delicious. On that particular evening four speakers presented their work, dreams and projects in Pecha-Kucha format, which is Japanese for `the sound of conversation’.
Instead of a long talk, they gave snapshot presentations, each about six minutes long. Twenty slides, 20 seconds per slide, for each presenter. This gives a concise picture so that you catch the dream without getting bogged in the details. Topics included plant tapestries, the Freewheeling Festival in Stanford, the Mother City Living blog, and mobility/shifting gears in the transport sector. I enjoyed the novel presentations and was inspired by several people I met that evening.