By Troy Aldrich
Iowa City Green Drinks meets on the second Thursday of every month, and the members discuss serious issues that involve corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
Although they raise serious issues, they prefer a less serious aesthetic for their meetings. This month’s meeting was held at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom and featured a presentation and book release by Des Moines author Adam Hammes.
This month’s meeting, however, focused less on hot topics and more on Hammes’ work. His second book, Sustainable Business in Iowa, is set to release on Feb. 23.
“This book was intended to apply forward-thinking sustainability practices and make them hyper-relevant to Iowans,” Hammes said.
He said he does this by using case studies of Iowa-based businesses that implement sustainability practices. He plans on using his book as a template to construct similar books for other states that are forward-thinking in sustainability, he said.
In addition to writing books, Hammes is also an lecturer in the Tippie College of Business. He teaches corporate social responsibility and sustainability courses at the UI’s Des Moines location.
He has used his book in his courses at the UI, he said and noted that the application of the Iowa case studies allows students’ thinking to “deviate from the norm and relate concepts to businesses they know and have occasionally worked at.”
Hammes was the first head of corporate social responsibility at Kum & Go and developed some of its first sustainability initiatives. He also founded the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum, where he works with Iowa businesses that are taking steps to becoming more sustainable.
In addition to Hammes’ book, many attendees of the event enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
“Microbreweries are a great venue for Green Drinks because they are generally progressive in sustainability practices,” Hammes said. He is working on rebooting the Des Moines area Green Drinks program.
Martha Norbeck, who has been the group’s organizer and event coordinator for 13 years, said, “It doesn’t have to be alcohol-related. [Big Grove] will serve you plenty of different drink and food options. When we used to meet at Red Avocado, it had the best smoothies.”
While serious discussions may normally be held in a conference room, Norbeck said, “That’s too stuffy for us.”
George McCrory, who has worked in the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability since 2011, said he has attended Green Drinks for about four years. He noted the networking opportunities at the events and said, “I don’t know that it’s led directly to employment, but students can come, and network, and hear from professionals.
“We have a free-form agenda, and it allows people to come in and talk about their niche interests.”
During the event, Norbeck discussed topics including the Iowa City bike master plan, how to eat less meat (along with Meatless Mondays), green building, and food production.
Norbeck, echoing McCrory, said there have been a wide array of niche interests discussed at the Green Drinks events.
“One time, a lady commented on our Facebook page and wanted to talk about tiny houses,” Norbeck said. “So that week we had 15 people show up just to talk about tiny houses.”