Green Drinks group hits Sacramento

Kim Eber, Rochelle Barcellona, J. Richard Noss and Kelsey Skidmore drink to the cause.

Kim Eber, Rochelle Barcellona, J. Richard Noss and Kelsey Skidmore drink to the cause.

Photo By Ted Cox

Sacramento Green Drinks meets the first Thursday of the month.

Beer, nachos and environmentalism. What Earth lover could resist such a combination?

That’s the idea behind Green Drinks, which recently started a new chapter in Sacramento. The worldwide organization (a term used loosely here) bills itself as an informal networking event that started in London in 1989. The Web site boasts 402 local groups across the world (including one in the Republic of Malta!).

Sacramento Green Drinks met in the noisy Pyramid Alehouse downtown early last month, and SN&R was there to check out the group’s second meeting. While an acoustic guitar player serenaded the crowd with versions of “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Wonderwall,” about 20 people gathered that night, their backgrounds ranging from business owners and government employees to people who simply wanted to connect with other environmentally minded individuals. They wandered freely around the elongated table, shaking hands, trading business cards and discussing everything from surfing to the penal system of the Netherlands.

Outside on the patio, Rochelle Barcellona and Kelsey Skidmore, both from Folsom-based green-friendly advertising firm Barcellona Inc., said they had heard about the San Francisco Green Drinks group from a Bay Area client, which eventually led them to the Sacramento gathering.

“He said, ‘You guys gotta come out here and come to a Green Drinks,’” Barcellona recalled. “He said, in fact, ‘You should do one in Sacramento.’”

After a little research, Skidmore learned that a Sacramento group had already met for the first time in July. This original group had been organized by J. Richard Noss, the head of green consulting firm Green Vision, who said that word of mouth is exactly how he hopes to spread the word about Sacramento Green Drinks.

“This is about organic growth,” Noss said. “People feel strongly about green issues.” So strongly, in fact, that Noss himself quit his corporate job of 25 years because he felt his company wasn’t making changes toward sustainable-business practices.

Sacramento, as a major political hub, should be a natural setting for a bustling environmental scene, he said.

“This is not about identifying with one single group. It’s not about promoting a single business, thought or political view,” Noss said. “It’s about promoting community.”

And he hopes to make Sacramento home to California’s largest Green Drinks chapter. While the Sacramento group is in its infancy, he looks at others, like Green Drinks New York City, for inspiration.

“Eleven years ago, it started out small,” Noss said. “But now it has 10,000 people.”

But there’s some stiff competition to becoming California’s Green Drinks capital. Barcellona and Skidmore had attended the San Francisco Green Drinks group the night before, where around 350 people attended.

“They have 1,300 members,” Barcellona said.

“But they’ve been at it for five years,” Skidmore said.

“They said that it really was just kind of organic, starting with a couple of people having drinks for about four years,” Barcellona added. “And then about a year ago it just exploded.”

Sacramento Green Drinks already seems to be on the same path. July’s meeting brought in around 10 people; August’s event more than doubled that attendance. And Sacramento Green Drinks members are already making business connections over beers and onion rings.

Randy Rosalex, project manager for GreenBuilt Consulting and Construction, and Tim Thomas, account executive for Video Monitoring Systems Inc., said they were in the early phases of creating a business deal for their green construction projects: Rosalex wanted to use Thomas’ solar-powered security-camera systems to deter thefts at their construction sites.

Still, the night was relaxed, casual and filled with plenty of tasty brew, even if the guitar player made it a little difficult to hear the person next to you. By the time the night was over, many new connections had been made.

“It’s nice to just talk about issues or what’s going on with engineers and land planners, or someone who works with the California Energy Commission,” Barcellona said.

The nachos were pretty good, too.