If you like your news leaning to the left, you could do no better than the AlterNet, a portal that brings in news that appeals to liberals from a variety of sources. They had a lengthy article posted today by author Nick Pinto called “Drinking Liberally: A New Strategy for Progressive Politics,” about the progressive organization that was founded in May of 2003. Drinking Liberally is pretty much what it sounds like, a group of politically like-minded progressives who get together on a regular basis to enjoy a beer and talk politics. Their motto is “Promoting democracy one pint at a time.” There are currently 175 chapters in 42 states (plus D.C.), including four here in the Bay Area: in Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose.
The website provides a forum, information on each chapter (like when and where they meet) and how to start your own chapter, but the AlterNet article is a great overview of the organization’s origins, structure and goals.
Founders Justin Krebs and Matt O’Neill met working together on a PBS-funded non-partisan project aimed at getting young voters involved in politics. Though they found modest success, both remained frustrated with the state of political discourse and decided to do something about it.
From the article:
On a Thursday night in May of 2003, after e-mailing an invitation to some friends, Krebs and O’Neill held the first session of Drinking Liberally at Rudy’s, a popular Hell’s Kitchen bar known for its hot dogs and cheap pitchers.
The group grew slowly over the summer, with some Thursday nights finding only Krebs and O’Neill holding down the Drinking Liberally fort. A west-coast chapter opened when a regular attendee at Rudy’s moved to San Francisco, and the group’s profile rose somewhat when it hosted some events during the 2004 Republican National Convention. But what really catapulted the group into the national awareness was a photograph in a Newsweek article about young people’s political engagement that showed someone wearing one of the group’s buttons, which read, “I only drink liberally.”
“Over the course of that week so many people started Googling ‘I only drink liberally,’ finding our Yahoo group, and writing us to say, ‘Hey, how can I start my own chapter?'” O’Neill recalls.
After the website went up, things began to snowball and the movement grew quickly, taking only a few short years to extend its reach into over 80% of the states and almost 200 metropolitan and not-so-metropolitan areas. Today the average age of a member is 36, a little older than the founders originally envisioned, but as the author notes, the growth of Drinking Liberally mirrors the growth of liberal blogs, too. An interesting concept to be sure.
The idea has also spawned other similar liberal organizations such as Laughing Liberally and Screening Liberally, all hosted by Cosmopolity, whose mission is “political action through social interaction.”