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Evolution of a GreenGroup

We started our SW Portland GreenGroup the same month that EnviroMom.com was born (March 2007). The forming of the group was fairly word-of-mouth. A few friends, Heather and myself, some interested moms who we met via the Southwest Watershed Resource Center. And it grew from there. We did some field trips to each others' houses to brainstorm "green" challenges and learn from one another. We met about every month for a while -- with the structure of the meetings being loosey-goosey at best, but always with lots to say and none of the pregnant pauses you might expect from a diverse group of people, many of whom had just met.

Then came requests to start GreenGroups in other parts of the Portland Metro area, as well as distant places: Memphis, Austin, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, even London! We've tried to seed these groups to the best of our ability, but admittedly, with limited success. No doubt, it's hard to find a place and time that works for a group of busy EnviroMoms and EnviroDads. It also takes someone to head it up, and believe me, I know it's hard to add one more thing to your plate. If there's any advice I have for someone who wants to form a GreenGroup, I'd say just go for it:

  • Pick a date, time and public place -- family-friendly cafe or coffee shop, library, community center.
  • Invite some green-minded friends.
  • Limit it to about 8-12 people, for simpler scheduling and ease of discussion. Keep the focus as "local" as possible.
  • Post a flier with the details at the meeting place, if possible.
  • Post an online announcement via your local craigslist.org or similar site.
  • Then see what happens... Most likely you will all learn some helpful things from one another. Share what you learn via a blog or set up a Yahoo Group to communicate outside of meetings.

I've loved our GreenGroup. We meet about once every other month now. Sadly, I'm the scheduler, and my scheduling of meetings is flaky at best. Our group has decided to add a bit more structure over the summer, by discussing the Northwest Earth Institute Menu for the Future discussion course. If you're not familiar with the NWEI, it's a national organization founded by Portlanders Dick and Jeanne Roy with a mission of "inspiring people to take responsibility for Earth." Any one of the NWEI's discussion courses would make a great starting place for a GreenGroup. It's inexpensive, the readings are thought-provoking and feature fantastic writers. The goal is not consensus, but to promote discussion. I love that.

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