Sierra Club brings environmental mixer to

Got Beer?
By IAN DONNIS  |  August 29, 2007
The Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club is bringing an appealing combination to Providence: the chance to drink some good beer while chatting with others concerned about the environment and helping to fight global warming.
The first local inception of the “Sierra Club and beer” — a concept that began in Atlanta and has since spread to other US cities — is slated for Thursday, September 13 from 7 to 10 pm, downstairs at the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence. Two films will be screened: Taken for a Ride, about the how the auto industry fought mass transportation in the ’40s and ’50s, and Bike Like You Mean It, about the bicycle subculture of Austin, Texas.
Chris Wilhite, program manager of the Rhode Island chapter, says the purpose is having fun while getting more people involved with the Sierra Club’s effort to encourage more cities and town to sign onto the US Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement was launched to support the goals of the February 2005 Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to address climate change.
While Rhode Island has made significant progress in reducing electricity-related contributions to global warming, Wilhite says, the transportation sector (particularly individual cars and trucks) remains the greatest source of global warming in the state. “The reason we’re so far behind is that the state has become so dependent on the automobile,” he says. “Our dependence on the automobile is hurting the community.”
Meanwhile, many other places — both larger cities like New York, Boston, and Portland, Oregon, as well as rural towns — have better mass transit systems than Rhode Island.
While awareness has increased about the importance of fighting global warming, improving the mass transit situation remains difficult, Wilhite says, because of how Rhode Island’s existing infrastructure is built to serve individual cars, rather than pedestrians, bicyclists, and other alternative forms of transportation.
The state has to figure out, he says, how cities and towns can make better transit planning decisions. (“Getting from Here to There: Transportation Solutions for Rhode Islanders,” a recent Sierra Club report, can be found at
As an added incentive for those attending the upcoming “Sierra Club and beer” get-together, those who sign up to volunteer for an upcoming event will get a free beer, “and there will be appetizers,” promises Wilhite.
The concept of mixing some lubricated socializing with environmentalism isn’t new to Rhode Island. In recent years, the Rhode Island Environmental Network has sponsored “Providence Green Drinks” at a series of different locations.
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