When TLG first decided to bring Green Drinks Edmonton online this past month, we’ll admit, there were some worries. Green Drinks is about connection, and we wondered whether the community atmosphere we grow in-venue was something we could reliably replicate in a digital format.
As we found out this past Thursday however, Edmontonians at home are keener than ever to reach out to their neighbours and talk about the issues affecting them every day—and in our case, to share what kind of local beer they’re indulging in as they listen along!
In fact, our online Green Drinks Edmonton event hosted a group of 50+ online attendees—not to mention the many hundreds following our livestream from all over the world—who learned, participated, and shared in an ongoing discussion about local food diversity, the cultural impact of food, food rights and distribution in Edmonton, as well as food science, growth, and sustainability around the globe.
It was a treat, for instance to get to hear from Juanita Gnanapragasam, a Public Health Practitioner, who had some great insights on where we can find existing gaps in food equality and literacy in Edmonton and beyond. Brent Swallow, a fellow academic and Professor of Agriculture and International Development Economics, held the audience’s attention with a more comparative view of food economics at the intersection of climate change, even providing a forecast of what’s to expect regarding food supply and demand in response to COVID-19.
As we moved through the program, Mike Johnson was another hit, providing some essential insights into how Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton has continued to explore what’s possible in the pursuit of reducing food waste around town, while Edmonton City Councillor Aaron Paquette added a much-needed governance perspective to many of these issues, speaking to the ways in which the communities he serves have become highly reactive, taking it upon themselves to advocate for food sustainability through community gardens and community league initiatives.
(But we don’t want to spoil it all for you! Go ahead and watch the livestream recording here).
And that’s not all! While many of us were cozy at home and listening along, our event took on a real “Green Drinks” aspect, with community members and attendees contributing to a lively and active stream of updates through the event’s chat room. Just like our live format, attendees got to know each other in an open and accommodating (online) space!
Indeed, as our esteemed panelists responded to prompts from our host-moderators, audience members were free to add in their two cents, and as a group we shared our reactions to much of what the panelists were saying, real time. We promoted the names of organizations working on similar Climate and Food causes in Edmonton—such as Leftovers, Prairie Urban Farm, and Fruits of Sherbrooke—as well as offered up our own perspectives on Edmonton’s changing food landscape. Watching along, you could really see how quickly members were connecting through the online medium, and we were encouraged by the positive discussions taking place regarding Food and Climate Change.
In our view, this side-by-side format gave everyone involved a chance to feel included, even in a time marked by distance and isolation. If anything, that was what we were looking to replicate with our online event, even having attendees “break out” into separate chat-rooms following the main presentation, thereby giving guests a more personalized interaction with the night’s speakers, and giving members a chance to ask the BIG questions:
From there, we let things blossom on their own, watching as community members volunteered their time, their money, and even their land to promoting food sustainability and food literacy practices in Edmonton. And that goes without mentioning the fact that this month’s audience members donated their hard-earned cash to Migrante Alberta—an excellent local cause focusing on the well-being of Alberta newcomer and migrant populations. On the night of the event, we were proud to announce a collective $350 contribution from YOU toward that cause, with numbers still rising. (You can add to that growth by sending an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org in any amount).
This is huge, and we have a feeling that it’s just the beginning.
The answer then, is Yes. Edmontonians can build community anywhere they please, and they certainly did so during our online Green Drinks Edmonton event. They’ve gone above and beyond in showing us just how far they are willing to go to fuel the type of genuine connection Alberta is known for, and we consider ourselves lucky to be living in a digital age that allows for such growth, even amid stagnation.
The best part? Now these discussions have been recorded in a format that’ll let you return to them again and again, sharing them with friends, family, and even newcomers to our city who want to become involved!
All things considered, this event was an excellent inauguration into what Green Drinks may look like in the coming months. Certainly, this won’t be the last online event we host. So, make sure to stay tuned, and follow along with us on Twitter, Instagram, or by signing up for our Green Drinks Newsletter.
We’ll also be announcing some excellent upcoming events—including a Covid-Response Cash Mob—and are committed to keeping you up to date on all the latest and greatest as we continue to fight through this difficult time, together.
See you next time!
PS: If you haven’t signed up for Robert Rogers’ incredible plant walk for August 5, 2020, there are still tickets left! Sign up here, and enjoy!