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Green Drinks is a Lot Like Social Networking

September 5th, 2008 by Max Gladwell · 4 Comments

The global phenomenon known as Green Drinks is a lot like social networking, only in the real world. How crazy is that?

It often seems like Max Gladwell exists not at the nexus of social media and green living but rather in the parallel worlds. We often attend networking events for each of these markets, and it’s more often the case that we get blank stares when it comes to discussing one world or the other. The techies are so wrapped up in the online environment that the actual environment is just that place where you raise money and do business. The greenies are so busy saving the world that they haven’t realized the organizational power of this virtual world. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not among this group. In our experience out in the real world, though, you’d be the exception.

We make this observation for a couple reasons. First, we’d like to organize networking events that bring these worlds together. They’d have to start in Santa Monica, where we’re based, so let us know if you have any thoughts or ideas. Secondly, it sets up our first Green Drinks post.

Green Drinks is a global, social-networking phenomenon. We see it as a manifestation of the social web without actually being a part of the social web. In other words, it’s a Web 1.0 online environment that has given birth to a Web 2.0 offline environment. These analogies aren’t perfect, so let us explain

It’s described as “an organic, self-organizing network.” Green Drinks is almost completely decentralized into autonomous chapters in every locale. Each has its own logo. Many now have blogs and a few use online social networking, but it’s primarily a simple email subscription model, and there’s almost zero interconnection. The main Facebook group has all of 2,100 members, which seems scant considering there are chapters in 402 cities worldwide. We were aware of a company that was trying to bring all chapters into a single, online social network last year, but it doesn’t appear it ever went live. We also heard about a documentary project that was going to travel the world to film the Green Drinks culture but have heard nothing since. Other than its very simple and non-interactive website, Green Drinks has no way to tie all 402 cities and chapters together, which could be very powerful.

This speaks to our point that greenies in general and Green Drinks in particular can be much more effective in their efforts to network with one another, meet like-minded people, and affect change by adding social media to those efforts. The difficult part for Green Drinks is done. They’ve managed to get hundreds of thousands of people to meet in the real world, have a drink, and discuss green issues. Taking these conversations online is the easy part, and we’d be more than happy to help.

With that said, we attended L.A. Green Drinks last night and met many cool and interesting people. It was hosted at The Green Life, a small eco shop on Main St. in Santa Monica, and this is who we met.

Ms. America Michael is Director of Collection Events for ASL Recycling. The company recycles e-waste, and one of the things America does is to organize collection events with nonprofit organizations, where they earn a percentage of the haul. E-waste includes computers, monitors, printers, etc. America posed for this photo with this random, jolly-green giant, who made a guest appearance. Yes, her name is really America.

Michael Carpol is a senior at UCLA, and he’s got a lot going on. Green the Greeks is one of his endeavors. This is “a student organization…committed to creating and advancing a culture of sustainability within the Greek community. Michael is a third-year Economics Major, Public Policy and Environmental Studies Minors. He has a passion for a better, cleaner world that equals his passion for Greek life.” It’s a strange coincidence that we watched Revenge of the Nerds after the Green Drinks event. It was on, and we had work to do.

Ken Jordan, half of the electronic-music duo known as The Crystal Method, was there helping to promote an Earthdance fundraiser party with is girlfriend. It looks like the nexus of raving and green living, and we’re all over it. It was a pleasure meeting Ken, since we’re big electronica fans. We devoured CM’s first album, Vegas, when it came out in ’97, along with a lot of Fat Boy Slim and Propellerheads. Hopefully we’ll be able to make the event. Should be a blast. And in ’90s-rave fashion, the location will remain a secret until the last minute. Here’s the flier:

Eric Seider is Director of the Permaculture Research Institute. What is permaculture? It’s “the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order.” Indeed.

Tiffany Davis-Rustam is President & Creative Director for T-LUX Design, an eco-savvy design firm. “From branding systems to print media to web presence, T-LUX Design offers cutting edge style custom tailored for your market and image goals.”

We were also happy to see our friend Sara Laimon of Green Ambassadors. She is one of the queen bees of LA green culture and a superb real-world social networker.

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Tags: Green Living · Social Networking