Green Drinks Mixes Cocktails With Conscience
In what could be dubbed an "eco social", every month an Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti group is meeting up for green-minded libations. Green Drinks
, a networking after-hours that caters to environmentally-minded professionals, is held at venues such as the beer garden at the Kerrytown Farmers Market and Conor O'Neill's. The Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti group is an affiliate of the worldwide Green Drinks, which has chapters in locales every which way from Panama City, Panama, to Doha, Qatar.
The three co-organizers of the local Green Drinks chapter, Monica Patel, Drew YoungeDyke, and Jason Frenzel, are employed by some of the most active environmental groups in the Ann Arbor region: the Ecology Center
, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters
, and the Huron River Watershed Council
. Each meeting is hosted by a different for-profit or non-profit organization, or an area professional. Past hosts include the Stewardship Network
, Ecology by Design
, and Superior Environmental
Tanya Muzumdar catches up with Jason Frenzel, Adopt-A-Stream and stewardship coordinator at the Huron River Watershed Council, and co-organizer of Green Drinks.
What was the impetus behind Green Drinks?
When Monica and Drew and I talked about it, the three organizations that we represent have very closely related missions and work, although [the organizations] don't overlap a lot. And so we find ourselves in this place of knowing each other and seeing each other occasionally, but not collaborating and sometimes not thinking of the other organization as often as we should...The opportunity to simply have professional networking on a recurring basis sums it up.
Who attends the meetings?
The people tend to be environmentally minded...we have nonprofit, for-profit, governmental agency, and university folks. Quite regularly we have those that are looking for work, that are networking to try to change careers. A lot of the folks are a little bit younger because of that side of things, but we definitely have a wide array of economic and age groups represented.
The Greendrinks.org website says the meetings are supposed to be free-form. This may be an oxymoronic question here, but how are the get-togethers structured?
About half the time it's just open conversation. Sometimes we get up and move half the chairs around so everybody gets exposed to a few different people...For each month, the host gets to talk about their interests and upcoming project...Sometimes different legislation is brought up.
The Huron River Watershed Council is in support of the 25 by '25 campaign...It's proposed legislation that'll be voted on in November, and the idea of this legislation is that it would mandate that the state of Michigan's production of energy comes from 25% renewable sources by 2025. We already have a 10% mandate in the next few years, but this brings it to the next level...The Michigan League of Conservation Voters came in, and their short topic was this legislation and trying to get people interested in it. Because of that, I had heard of this initiative before they started rolling it out. So when the initiative came out in the public view, I felt like I was already in the know and it felt really good to have an inside track to some of these organizations that are doing really important work in our community and throughout the state.
Has the Huron River Watershed Council acted on anything discussed at Green Drinks?
When the Michigan League of Conservation Voters started really pushing the 25 by '25 campaign, they were able to bring that to the Green Drinks early on. It was super early in our process of getting votes, getting signatures on the ballot...We're doing more things to support that ballot initiative now.
What happened at the most recent meeting?
We discussed the technology behind different green energy issues...One of the guys is in the [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] but also is really interested in green electricity...We talked about how there's a dichotomy because a lot of the traditional electrical producers aren't as on that green bandwagon. And so being able to work within the conventional system as well as looking forward and trying to create a different future was something we talked about.
The next Green Drinks meet-up will be from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, October 25 at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.
Tanya Muzumdar is a freelance writer and the Assistant Editor of Concentrate and Metromode. Her last feature column was: "Talking Hypotheticals at U-M's Science Cafe".
All photos by Doug Coombe