Green Drinks of summer


Unfortunately the rainy weather did not cooperate with the organizers of the first Green Drinks of the summer on June 11. So, instead of meeting on the patio of Birchbark Café in Minneapolis, the group of approximately twenty energy conservation enthusiasts huddled together inside the café for their environmental happy hour.

For more information, visit the Clean Energy Resource Teams Web site or contact Diana McKeown at for more information about Green Drinks.

Green Drinks is held on the second Wednesday of the month through September, and is hosted by the Metro Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Network, coordinated by The Green Institute. The group coordinator, Diana McKeown, said the goal of holding the themed happy hour, “is to have speakers share actions and examples you can take to be part of the solution.”

“The average Minnesotan has a carbon footprint of over 50,000 pounds per year, which is above the national average,” Neely Crane-Smith, Energy Challenge Coordinator at Center for Energy and Environment, told the Green Drinks gathering on June 11.

McKeown has believed in being part of the solution since she was a little girl. Whenever she would throw anything in the garbage, her father, who was one of eleven children, would chide her with, “there is no such as thing as waste.” She developed “an incredible guilt for wasting anything;” but her father also instilled in her the habits of reusing and recycling.

With her family today, husband and two girls aged 11 and 2, McKeown continues to reuse and recycle. For example, she carries a reusable bag with her at all times; she buys as much as possible from the neighborhood cooperative; she buys milk in returnable glass bottles; and she bikes to work. Her older daughter is responsible for separating the recyclables at home. McKeown and her family also eat and shop locally to support businesses in the neighborhood and reduce transportation. “We have everything in our neighborhood [Seward] that we need. We really try to say local.”

MeKeown graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1995 with a degree in environmental studies. She loved the combination of environmental policy and politics in her 14 years of work at Clean Water Action. Her interest in global warming issues led to her becoming one of a thousand people across the country trained by Al Gore to do his slide show. She says that experience “really brought home the need for me to work in the community on energy conservation and global warming issues.”

McKeown now works with The Green Institute, a partner of CERTS. She will be holding an informational meeting about Metro CERTs Network in St. Paul at the Rondo outreach library on July 7th. The CERTs project, launched in 2003, is connecting people with the technical resources needed to identify and implement community-scale energy efficiency and clean energy projects. Coordinating Green Drinks is one of community activities that McKeown has undertaken to educate the community about environmental issues.

Jennifer Holder contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.