Whistler2020 on the Ground 

Whistler Green Drinks buzzing with hip passion

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RMOW Policy and Program Development

The drinks weren’t really green, but the chatter sure was. Amber lager flowed and rainbow-hued pizza appeared as Whistler’s hip, energetic and passionate green thinkers get together and for few hours of shared ideas and words as green drinkers.

Green Drinks, a flowering force of social lubrication and dialogue on all things green is now happening in Whistler, with a Green Drinks get together the first Wednesday of every month at Black’s Pub. According to organizer Marie Fortin of Hilltrip, the Green Drinks phenomenon is here to stay and is intended to create citizen connections, build community capacity and simply share ideas and stories around sustainable discourse and action.

“I’ve been organizing events to promote various green issues and I was looking at a new concept to bring people together in a social setting on a regular basis,” says Fortin, a tireless promoter organizing the avant garde of Whistler’s sustainability movement. “Having hosted events in nightclubs for the past few years, I soon realized there are many people who will not take part in an event in that type of environment and I wanted to create an event that was more inclusive. Green Drinks is more social, with an emphasis on networking and positive discussion.”

Fortin had her Green Drinks epiphany while reading an article in Vancouver’s Granville Magazine, which explained that the movement began with a few noble souls in the U.K. in 1989 and over the years spread far beyond the smoky pubs of London. The first Canadian Green Drinks started in Vancouver in February 2005. Whistler’s Green Drinks chapter has now met three times, with the February get-together drawing roughly 30 souls. Folks were given a reusable grocery bag from AWARE and spent a couple mellow hours engaging each other on a wide range of topics.

Green Drinks is a monthly gathering of anyone interested in ‘green.’ Green Drinkers are from all ages (over 19), backgrounds and groups — non-profit organizations, academia, government, small business, big business, self-employed, volunteers, students, concerned citizens, curious people and everything in between. Green Drinks has had a meteoric rise, paralleling the social and political rise of sustainable thought and action worldwide. With chapters in 107 cities at the start of 2007, the end of last year had 304 chapters. A quick look at greendrinks.org reveals there are Green Drinks groups in 311 cities around the world. You can go to a Green Drinks gathering in places such as Kuala Lumpur or Kabul.

“It is a very unstructured environment,” says Fortin. “We are welcoming to everyone as that is what Green Drinks is all about.”

Entry is by donation and Green Drinkers get a free beverage and some appies while they chat and mingle. There's no agenda or other formality — it's just a chance to meet regularly to chat, debate, socialize and connect with others in Whistler who are passionate about environmental and sustainability issues. Whether you're keen on green building and design, sustainable energy, organic gardening, or something else entirely, you'll find like-minded people.

At the February event, I talked with folks about home composting programs, the future of Whistler’s bears and solid waste, and buildings constructed from re-used materials, among other things. Meanwhile, cool reggae grooves provided by Kostaman washed over the group. Huge snowflakes fell outside and I walked home in the fresh pow buzzed on positive dialogue, action opportunity, new connections and pizza.

Fortin says Green Drinks Whistler would not be a success without the support of AWARE, Eco-Everything, Ziptrek Ecotours, Black’s Pub and the Granville Island Brewery. The next Green Drinks Whistler is set for March 4 at 8 p.m. and she is hoping the gathering will attract a cross-section of the Whistler community.

“Green Drinks is a really great space to feel the pulse of the community when it comes to issues around sustainability… outside of a meeting room,” she says. “Some of the people who have been coming are very energetic and involved locals while some others are coming to find a place where they can learn and share ideas. I look forward to meeting more of these types of people when we get together in March.”

To KNOW MORE about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020, to tell us how you’re contributing, or to find out how we’re performing visit www.whistler2020.ca

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