Friday, May 15, 2009

Melbourne Greendrinks!


Sustainability Drinks Melbourne is one of three similar events that is listed on the website, and is held on the first Wednesday of every month at Tjanabi at Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne.

Organizer Dean Steele-Bennett started this event 18 months ago with 5 mates over a beer. They were lamenting the lack of a fun, informal, open forum for like-minded individuals concerned and involved with Sustainability issues to meet - as real people, instead of job titles or organizations - and collaborate on solutions...and thus was born Sustainability Drinks Melbourne! Six months later, a guest at their event told them the story of Greendrinks, and a new challenge was born.

Steele-Bennett selected Tjanabi as the venue for his event specifically because of their focus on "supporting practices that sustain the environment". The owner, Carolyn Briggs, is a Senior Elder and Spokesperson of the Boonerwrung people - the indigenous peoples of Melbourne. Tjanabi's menu features such traditional ingredients as kangaroo, emu, crocodile, wild boar and seafood. These foods are combined with some of the best quality regional and seasonal produce from the Gippsland region.

The event is marketed exclusively by word-of-mouth, and RSVPs are required, as Sustainability Drinks Melbourne regularly attracts 200+ people, and has to turn away 50-100 people each month due to the restaurant's capacity.

The organizers read about New York Greendrinks' record-largest GD event, with over 800 attendees, and began plans to set a new record for the largest Greendrinks' event in the world. This came to fruition on February 15th 2008, as part of Melbourne's annual Sustainable Living Festival. Sustainability Drinks collaborated with the organizers of EnviroDrinks and the O2Australia network, when a massive Greendrinks event was held in Federation Square with over 2,000 people in attendance!

This month's Guest Speaker was Marcus Godinho, founder of Fare Share, a non-profit organization whose goal this year is to deliver 1,000,000 free meals to the homeless and hungry population of Melbourne. Marcus was named to Melbourne's 100 most influential people by local newspaper The Age last year.

Fare Share turns good food that is otherwise destined for the dumpster into restaurant-quality meals for charitable organizations since the year 2000.

Over 1,500 volunteers are supported by only 5 paid staff, which includes two professional chefs. Local companies of all sizes utilize the volunteer program as a team building exercise, and do their part to contribute to their communities. The companies often realize additional benefits by reporting on their teams' participation in their annual Social Responsibility Reports.

We had a great night out with the organizing team and fellow attendees, continuing the conversation with new friends at a bar across the road at the conclusion of the event. A number of people walking up and introducing themselves to me throughout the night - everyone was warm, friendly, and interested in what the other had to say - there was an excited energy of innovation in the air, like we were all participating in something special. What a great environment for collaboration!

Later on, Daniel tells me that the typically diverse crowd that night included venture capitalists, documentary film-makers, governmental policy-makers, private consultants, students, job-seekers, entrepreneurs, and even an eco-friendly brewmaster. Stay tuned for an interview with the Organizer of Sustainability Drinks Melbourne, Dean Steele-Bennett!

For more information on how to support Fare Share, visit their website or contact Marcus at:
T: +61 3 9428 0044
M: +61 416 180 802

For more information on Sustainability Drinks Melbourne, visit their website or contact Dean at:
T: +61 3 9614 6511
M: +61 424 507 446


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