Photo from Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Cheers to J. Courtney Sullivan of the New York Times for today’s article about Drinking Liberally, a progressive social networking group that meets weekly (some cities less often) to discuss politics over a few drinks!
Liberal bloggers are very familiar with the networking group who’s tagline is: “Promoting democracy one pint at a time.”
From the article (free subscription required):
On Thursday night in Hell’s Kitchen, an impassioned discussion of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remarks about the Bobby Kennedy assassination as a reason for her staying in the presidential race took place in the backyard of Rudy’s Bar and Grill. Across the yard, Rachel Maddow, a host on Air America Radio, poured glasses of beer for a table of friends and debated Senator John McCain’s war record.
Among the regular patrons at the bar on Ninth Avenue were a few unsuspecting tourists. Dozens of people were squeezed together talking politics, drinking beer and eating free hot dogs. The conversation was cut short for an anniversary toast.
“To many more years, and many more chapters,” said Justin Krebs, 30. Mr. Krebs was one of the founders of the progressive social networking group called Drinking Liberally that has been meeting at Rudy’s every Thursday night for the past five years.
“We knew our friends wanted to talk about politics and the state of the country, but it felt like that was a taboo thing to do in a social setting,” Mr. Krebs said. “We wanted to create an environment where people would be told that politics is not off the table — that in fact, it’s what we’re here for,” said Mr. Krebs, a founder of The Tank, a nonprofit space for performance and public-affairs events in Midtown.
In the beginning, Mr. Krebs and his partner in starting the club, Matthew O’Neill, 30, would show up on Thursday, with just the two of them sharing a pitcher of beer. Since then, online social networking has helped the group grow into a national organization with 250 chapters across the country, at least one in each state.
“Eight years ago, someone told me that the Nader folks were trying to create a sort of potluck dinner group in every state across the country — the idea being that you organize people socially and out of that can grow a network that will move progressive politics forward,” said Sam Seder, a radio host on Air America. “The brilliance of this group is that they’ve actually done that.”
Four years ago, a person who attended meetings in New York moved to San Francisco and started a second Drinking Liberally chapter.
After the 2004 Republican convention, the Daily Kos and Atrios, two political blogs, began posting Drinking Liberally meeting times on their sites. By the time Election Day rolled around, 16 new chapters had sprung up.
“For a lot of us, it’s the only time that we really get to talk politics across generations, other than at Thanksgiving dinner,” said Katrina Baker, 27, the group’s national organizer.
Fred Gooltz, 30, was one of the early regulars in New York. At the time, he was an actor, but through Drinking Liberally he was introduced to political organizations that were experimenting with using online social networking to reach potential voters. Mr. Gooltz started volunteering with several of them.
“The Howard Dean movement went viral on the Internet, and all kinds of new technology emerged,” he said. “I walked out of the 2004 election with a newfound understanding of how to organize politically through the Web.”
Since then, he has worked for several campaigns, including John Edwards’s last presidential run, using online social networking tools to promote voter registration.
“While working on campaigns, I would go to other states and bring a bunch of Drinking Liberally buttons with me to recruit people,” he said. “But everybody had already heard of us because of blogs.”
So it is my duty to inform you! The Houston chapter meets the second Wednesday of every month (the next meeting is June 11th) at 7:00 p.m. at the Pearl Bar.
Check out their blog at http://houston.drinkingliberally.org/.
Look for a chapter near you.