It's all about going green these days, and that includes networking.
Inspired by the environmentally conscious volunteer-run social group Green Drinks San Francisco, Petaluma residents Dale Wannen and Alena Marr have launched Green Drinks Petaluma.
"Being green and sustainability are at the core of Green Drinks," said Wannen. "At the moment, however, we're not agenda or issue specific. We're keeping it open for people to come talk about environmental or social or human right issues or whatever someone wants to talk about."
The Green Drinks groups are under the umbrella of a larger non-profit organization that began more than 20 years ago. According to the Green Drinks website (Greendrinks.org), the movement started in 1989 in a pub in England where a small group of environmentally minded people happened to like gathering for a drink, talking and meeting other like-minded people. As the group got better acquainted with each other, Green Drinks was born.
In 2001, one of the founders, Edwin Datschefski, created a website and the idea of Green Drinks spread to other cities around the world.
How it works is that each city has an organizer who arranges meetings in bars and restaurants, relays information via social media, and facilitates discussions. The spirit of Green Drinks is that everyone is welcome.
Wannen and Marr, both members of the Petaluma Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, came up with the idea to start a Green Drinks in Petaluma a few months ago.
"I used to live in San Francisco and for years I always attended the Green Drinks San Francisco events," said Wannen. "When I moved up here I just thought it would be nice to have because of the green community that's here."
It just so happens that Marr helped start the Hartford Connecticut Green Drinks group before moving to Petaluma.
"I thought she'd be the perfect person to help co-found one in Petaluma since she already understood how it all works," said Wannen.
Green Drinks Petaluma held its first meeting in early October at Taps on Kentucky Street, which had about 15 people in attendance. Wannen said they hope to grow the group to 40 or 50 people.
"The great thing about Green Drinks is that it's not stuffy or agenda-driven," said Wannen. "It's about networking and talking. We hold it at a bar because it's easier to create a networking atmosphere there than in a conference room."
The next Green Drinks Petaluma meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at Taps. Alan Allen from Community Bikes Petaluma will be the guest speaker, but Wannen added that it will be an informal presentation of just five to 10 minutes at the most. The idea is still to keep the meeting open to whatever people want to talk about.
"Overall, we want meetings to have a loose vibe," said Wannen. "People can talk about anything from sheet mulching their lawn to the Giants game. We want to keep it loose. It's really nice to just talk with people. And of course, if beer is involved, that helps."
The ultimate goal Wannen said is to have Green Drinks Petaluma be a networking group that is self-sustaining, rather than run by any one person.
"It's Alena and I running the group at the moment, but eventually I'd love to show up having done nothing for it and find it going strong because people are just aware of the fact that this group meets the second Thursday of every month," said Wannen. "And then it will be great to hear the stories about people who met through Green Drinks and landed a job or a client. Networking is what the group is about."