Joe Groves, owner of Ellen's Southern Kitchen in Dallas, was the beneficiary of the inaugural GreenBuzz "swarm." Proceeds from the event will help renovate his new location using sustainable materials. Photos courtesy of GreenBuzz.
June 1, 2015
By Rita Cook
According to the GreenBuzz Facebook page, the Dallas-based initiative aims to empower local businesses to incorporate sustainable practices through community support.
It works like this: on a designated day, patrons descend on a participating business for a few hours with the assurance that a percentage of the day's sales will go toward eco-friendly upgrades.
Patrons swarmed in Dallas last month to support eco-friendly renovations at Ellen's Southern Kitchen.
The grassroots organization is the brainchild of Eduardo Hope, the coordinator for GreenDrinks Dallas, and Justin Nygren, co-owner and managing partner of The Grove, a co-working community in Dallas’ Historic West End. They modeled the eco-friendly event after a “carrotmob” campaign, held in Deep Ellum in 2010.
Carrotmob.org, founded in 2008, hosts campaigns that support sustainable upgrades at businesses.
According to its Facebook page, the organization uses the "carrot" instead of the "stick" approach to bring about change – rewarding businesses with positive incentives, like financial support.
“We thought how neat it would be to revive the [movement] here in Dallas,” Hope explains.
Right, Green Source DFW board member Mary Anne Redmond talks with GreenBuzz cofounder Justin Nygren at the GreenBuzz event in April.
They already knew a worthy candidate. Joe Groves, owner of Ellen's Southern Kitchen, was moving his restaurant to a more spacious location down the street, which he planned to renovate using recycled materials.
They met with Groves who loved the carrotmob idea and they set a date.
However, when Hope and Nygren visited the Carrotmob.org website to register the event, there was a note saying the organization was no longer active.
“That did nothing to stop our plans,” Hope adds. “We were excited about the prospect of beginning to do something interesting and fun in support of ecologically responsible businesses. So, after briefly discussing it, we decided to come up with a provisional name for the event in lieu of 'carrotmob,' in case we could not use that name.”
Left, A supporter peruses sustainable materials planned for Ellen's makeover.
The men tested a variety of words and phrases with a number of people and eventually chose 'GreenBuzz,’ a word combo, which they believed suggested all of the right things.
As for what folks can expect at a GreenBuzz event, all are invited to support the chosen establishment on the day of the event simply by purchasing what there is to offer there.
“The idea is for the establishment to benefit from more clientele and more sales over and above what it ordinarily gets on a given day, but to use this extra profit towards making changes to the premises and/or the operation of the business,” Hope says. “The 'swarm' of patrons in support of the establishment really depends on the networks of friends and acquaintances of everyone interested – that is why we insist on calling it 'community support.' It may not be a spontaneously organized event—we choose the day and the time and arrange for some entertainment, but people come because they want to reward environmentally responsible business.”
Hope says they hope that other businesses are inspired to follow and note that the extra profit used toward energy-saving, water-conservation or zero-waste processes is also good publicity.
Left, Rhonda Sweet and Kim O'Neil came out to support the neighborhood venue.
At April’s GreenBuzz event, about 40 folks attended and Hope says Ellen's made $600 when all was said and done.
“It was a good start; a few of the business owners in the historic West End came to see what was going on and chat a bit with Joe Groves about his pending move and GreenBuzz.”
Hope says they do not know when or where the next GreenBuzz will take place, nor if they will always limit the event to restaurants or bars.
“We know we want it to grow into a meaningful event around which to generate community and get people thinking about how local business can be done in an environmentally responsible way.”
Rita Cook is an Arlington-based award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at [email protected].