Spotlight On... Living Liberally

By Nicole Caldwell

I’m balancing a pitcher of beer and making my way to the backyard of Rudy’s Bar & Grill on Ninth Avenue in Midtown. It’s Thursday. People around me scarf down free hot dogs and pontificate on the state of politics today as I spot my group: a handful of Drinking Liberally members positioned across from four 20-somethings who’ve challenged us to a round of flip-cup. You can tell who’s who by the pins—Drinking Liberally’s master of services Justin Krebs has dutifully made sure everyone of his ilk wears a pin saying so.

Born of Necessity
Drinking Liberally was formed in 2003 by Krebs and Matthew O’Neill, a Harvard grad and Emmy-award-winning journalist and filmmaker, respectively. “After the start of the war,” Krebs says, “it felt like the Left had no voice, no leadership. But we realized even our friends weren't talking politics. So we decided to create an avenue to draw our friends into political conversation in their natural habitat.”

A year later, Cosmopolity, a social network Krebs and fellow Harvard grad David Alpert created, incorporated Drinking Liberally thereby offering online calendars and social events as a way to encourage political engagement. The next step was to establish the umbrella organization Living Liberally, which strives to incorporate a person’s political identity into his or her daily life. The program’s intimidating success lies in its brilliant simplicity. Through all of Living Liberally’s groups—Drinking, Laughing, Screening, Eating, Reading, and, more recently, Shooting, Crafting, and Singing—politics are brought to the forefront of what would otherwise be natural social interactions we take part in every day.

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[Originally published in The Leaflet, December 2009, V1.7]