It was May 29, 2003, when a few of us gathered in the backyard of a dive bar on the westside of Manhattan … and Drinking Liberally was born. As of yesterday, 14 years and counting.
At the time, it felt like the darkest political moment of our lives, in a presidency that was defying the Constitution, starting a major, unnecessary war built on lies, and threatening the rule of law.
Over the years of the Bush administration, Drinking Liberally grew from a few friends in a bar to hundreds of chapters all around the country, and even the world — from Idaho to South Carolina, the heart of Texas to the towns of South Dakota, and everywhere in between — giving liberals everywhere a home to find folks who shared their values and would share conversation while sharing a beer (or a non-alcoholic alternative).
Everywhere Drinking Liberally groups — and Laughing Liberally comedy shows, Reading Liberally book clubs, and all the programs of the Living Liberally world — have gathered has provided one more staple that’s connected the political energy of campaigns and news cycles onto a longer lasting social fabric. We’ve been a welcome recharging station for seasoned activists, a gateway to political newcomers, a stomping ground for candidates, a local landing pad for allies, and a presence that has remained constant in many communities, not disappearing between campaign cycles or vanishing during a Democratic presidency.
Now, of course, it feels like the darkest political moment of our lives, though the world is brightened by the flames of resistance sparking and sparkling everywhere. And we’re proud that Drinking Liberally keeps on chugging. That our existing groups are able to meet a surge of new interest. That we are ready to handle new chapter inquiries. And that we have quickly become interwoven in different ways, locally, with the new threads of the resistance from Indivisible to Swing Left.
As we mark our anniversary, we issue the invitation yet again: Wherever you are, and whether you’re a longtime organizer or newly energized citizen, you can find or start a chapter near you. Find a chapter is a way to connect to your community. Starting one, which is free and easy, is a way to help build that community. Find it all at www.drinkingliberally.org
And if you’ve been an attendee that’s ever wondered “What keeps this operation ticking?” the answer is volunteer hosts all around the country, an all volunteer national leadership team, and a shoestring budget.
This year, we’re aiming to rebuild our website which has long needed work, but now demands an upgrade to meet today’s energy and today’s challenges. So, if you’ve enjoyed Drinking Liberally in person, or just love the concept, please help “Tip the bartender of the progressive movement” and toss a few bucks our way to help with the website costs, and to continue to support our national network. You can chip in here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dl14
And if you happen to be near New York City this Thursday, June 1, join us a the Living Liberally Annual Celebration which helps raise funds for the organization. This year’s honorees include progressive champions and resistance leaders Representative Jerry Nadler, and the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the ACLU. You can get the details here. livingliberally.org/celebration2017