Jurich: Toledo Green Drinks: Cheers to the EarthWritten by Stacy Jurich | | email@example.com
Toledo Green Drinks got its start in 2007 from meetings of the then-forming Lake Erie Western Alliance for Sustainability (LEWAS). Someone brought information about Green Drinks events in cities around the world and said, “Stacy, you should organize this in Toledo.” So I did. Green Drinks is a monthly get-together for people interested in networking and holding conversations about environmental and ecological topics. It is informal and usually held at a bar, hence the ‘drinks’ part. There are Green Drinks held each month in Aarhus, Denmark, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 70 countries, and Toledo, Ohio, United States of Amerika.
It’s kind of like an eco-conscious happy hour, where conversation sways from passive solar power to growing and harvesting quinoa in an urban setting; from “greening your business” to the algae in Lake Erie; from renewable fuels to GMO’s to rooftop gardens. Sometimes there will be a speaker or discussion facilitator on a specific topic, like the presentation for Stop Nisource! in January 2009 at the Attic. Other months there is a movie screening in partnership with the Media Decompression Collective (www.mdctoledo.org), like “King Corn” in November 2008 at Downtown Latte or “What a Way to Go” in December 2010 at the Ottawa Tavern. Each winter Green Drinks hosts a book swap and many of the events are just casual gatherings.
Toledo has a small but strong grass-roots environmental sustainability movement. Sustainable means it is lasting, unlike the fad of ‘green’ labeling, as found with “eco-friendly” plastic water bottles, the Hybrid-Hummer, or Wal-Mart having green business practices (ha!). Organizations like Toledo GROWs, however, are local and dedicated and provide tangible environmental, economic and community benefits in the short and long term. Its community gardens are amping up the volume of not only local produce but small livestock as well, all in an urban setting. T Grows allows urbanites a chance to get dirty in the soil and re-connect with the source.
On the technology front, Toledo is on the international radar with solar companies Xunlight, First Solar and Solar Fields, LLC and their recent acquisition of Calyxo. Bowling Green is home to Ohio’s first Wind Farm. On a smaller scale, households in the greater Toledo area are equipped with solar panels and windmills, providing off-the-grid power for their residence. Additionally, locally-modified vehicles fueled by batteries and waste vegetable oil are cruising the streets of T-town. Bicycle transportation is increasing, although dodging treacherous potholes and inconsiderate and/or oblivious car drivers is customary. (Please share the road!)
We can’t talk about the environment in Toledo without mention of the mighty Maumee and lovely Lake Erie. We are so fortunate to be seated in this gem of an aquatic convergence. Western Lake Erie is the warmest, shallowest, “fishiest” and most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes. The Maumee River estuary is home to many species of fish and wildlife but is threatened by toxic runoff from farms upstream, human pollution and industrial pollution right here in Toledo and Oregon. It is so important that we recognize the intrinsic value in the Western Lake Erie watershed and place a higher worth on clean water and food over the perceived value of yet another industrial power plant facility like the proposed FDS Coke Plant. Remember that ‘greenwashing’ I mentioned…there’s no such thing as a ‘green-powered’ electrical plant or ‘clean coal’.
Toledo Green Drinks a great opportunity to bounce around creative ideas and share information. The crowd is diverse, ranging from kids to seniors and professionals to students. Toledo Green Drinks has bounced around almost every bar and some restaurants downtown, including Glass City Café for almost a year, has ventured to a couple of Metroparks and the Toledo Zoo, and held a potluck at the Secor Building. Green Drinks loves partnering with non-profits, community organizations like MDC and Food Not Bombs!, and amazing local businesses that are so happy to host the meetings.
More often than not, Green Drinks is held the last Monday of the month from 5:30-8:30. February Green Drinks will be at the Attic on Adams on February 28th from 5:30-8:30. Attendees are invited to read Mother Earth News’ June/July 2010 article, “The Truth About Vegetarianism” by Lierre Kieth and participate in a stimulating and challenging discussion about the food we eat. Join Toledo Green Drinks on Facebook or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.