We know 2016 may have been hard on you, so it’s possible you missed the news about Boozestorming, our favorite new-ish meetup in town. “What is this brilliant play-on-words convener taking the South by storm, you ask? It’s a small hodgepodge of people (we’re talking 12 folks max, y’all) throughout the city who indulge in ideas, conversations, solutions, and you guessed it, booze. Shaken, stirred, however you like it, Boozestorming is the refreshing glass of insight you need to quench your thirst on.
We recently got old fashioned with Atlanta’s Boozestorming Co-Leader, Sonia Sequeira, and sat down to talk everything from navigating the tough stuff and the power of small conversations to the best booze to sip while getting down to business.
How did Boozestorming get started?
One of my friends from Saint Louis where I went to undergrad and grad school did a bunch of stuff around community development. Working at CDC and being in public health, I’m always interested in community-driven work so we go back and forth about ideas around community development. I had sent him information on We Love BuHi and he sent me Boozestorming.
I loved the idea, so I contacted Travis Sheridan, who started it and said, “hey this is really cool have you ever thought about having other chapters?” and he replied, “yeah, do you want to start one in Atlanta?”
I mentioned it to Jacey Lucus, my co-leader in crime, and she’s one of those amazing people who when you tell her an idea and she’s into it, she’ll run with it.
I feel like everybody has a question about the community they want to know about. Like, “damn why is there an available for lease sign in a really cool area of Edgewood?” I want people to ask those questions. That’s something Jacey and I talked about too when we kicked this off. What would people ask? Will people have enough to talk about? Alcohol always helps make that a little easier and comfortable plus you’re probably planning on going to a happy hour anyway.
What is your vision for Atlanta’s chapter for Boozestorming?
Right now it’s either been within my circle or a couple of rings outside of it. My vision for it is to bring people together who think differently but are to have a dialogue together. I think sometimes we get ourselves into these little echo chambers. We can say we know what an opinion is in the abstract but having someone in front of you that’s talking about it and sharing a dialogue is a little different. I’d love for it to be a little more diverse and really extend this throughout the entire Atlanta region.
Take us through what a night of Boozestorming looks like?
We ask everyone to bring at least one of the following: their brain, a buddy and a drink of choice, ideally all 3. Everyone writes an idea on a piece of paper or a napkin and we put it up on the board. Every round of discussion we discuss one idea: what we already know about it, what we would like to know, and how we’d like it to be worked on. Then, from there, we refresh our drinks (if needed) and grab a new idea to discuss.
Is the idea to also have people holding their own sessions of Boozestorming independently?
We’ve focused mostly on Atlanta but it could definitely be “Boozestorming Decatur” or “Boozestorming Midtown” to separate it out a little bit more. That’s something they’ve done in Saint Louis. I think when it’s parsed out by neighborhoods that can be really convenient for folks but I’d almost like to see activity between different neighborhoods. Like Old Fourth Ward and Cobb County to sit down and talk. I think we have more in common than we realize. Or we want more of the same things than we realize, even if we are coming from different policy positions so it’d be good to talk about that with one another.
One of my friends who I met at the first Boozestorming event said something to me along the lines of, “well we have the same values because we have the same political positions.” Then I started thinking about another friend who definitely doesn’t hold the same political position as me but has the very similar values as me. So how does that all exist together and what assumptions do we make there? There might be someone in Cobb County who voted against MARTA expansion but has other ideas for connectivity: we may disagree, but we might overlap in both being interested in connectivity.
What does that say about the power of smaller conversations?
That’s one of the things I’d love to get at it a little bit. People are less combative if they are in smaller groups… as well as at happy hour. The one thing with that is if you talk to someone one-on-one, the likelihood is higher you’ll be more empathetic. I’d love for it to be a space where people are talking and okay with some of the other ideas. Maybe we come across something that we’ve never tried before. On the city level and even on the federal level too, we repeat the same things over and over again. Why not try something a little different or new? Or see what could happen if two people who aren’t necessarily seeing eye to eye to work together?
There have been so many times at Boozestorming where people will say, “oh I’ve never thought of that idea before” or “I’ve never thought from that perspective.” If you do disagree, at least you’ll be able to put a face to it. I think it’s easy to say sweeping generalizations about people if you’re just thinking about some random faceless group. If you don’t know the people or never talk to them, it’s easier to write them off.
There are reasons for our differences. There is a history to our reasonings. Things don’t have to be so black and white. I want people to come in and really challenge different ideas. Our ideas are only as good as their strongest critics and we have to be open to that.
Since this is all about drinking and conjuring up grand ideas, what are appropriate drink choices while boozestorming?
I love a good Old Fashioned. I love bourbon and feel like it’s a good fireside chat, sit around and sip while you talk type of drink. For beer, I love Delirium Tremens, and red wine is always a hit at Boozestorming. And if you don’t drink, we’re open to La Croix and tea as well!
Ready to bust into booze and brainstorming? RSVP for tomorrow’s Boozestorming sesh before it’s officially sold out!