Pedaling Nowhere

‘Tis the season for spirits…but not all of them show up dressed like a ghost, or have all-too-realistic bloody faces with muscle, bones and/or brains poking through.

Sometime spirits don’t come from the dark side, they’re positive, and that’s what Sustainable Spirits is all about. Quite simply, it celebrates thinking, and doing, sustainably. Described as a casual monthly gathering “creating a space for people to gather, meet each other, and engage in fun and meaningful conversations,” the events are free, unstructured, and open to everyone interested in anything remotely about sustainability — renewable energy, civic engagement, green building, organic farming, you name it.

Composting is certainly part of the discussion; the brainchild of Jorge Montezuma (@jlmontezuma), staff engineer at Smith+Gardner and boardmember for the North Carolina Composting Council, Sustainable Spirits kicked off in the Triangle in June 2013 as one of their non-profit’s projects.

“Some friends had started these events back in San Luis Obispo, California where I went to school,” Montezuma said. “The idea back then was to create a fun environment for like-minded people to get to know each other without having to listen to a speaker, go to a workshop, conference, etc. In Raleigh, I looked for these types of events and didn’t find them; since I served on the board, I figured it would be a great match to start them under the NC Composting Council’s name. I pitched it, they liked it, and Sustainable Spirits was born on the East Coast.”

The event rotates around the extended Triangle through different establishments each month, and is even popping up in Wilmington now thanks to McGill Compost. It’s been a conscious decision to include communities as far out as Saxapahaw and Pittsboro. According to Montezuma, it’s been a benefit having an event that rotates since it allows people to come into a familiar environment and mingle with new faces — an average of 60 people per event — just a few miles away from their comfort zone.

This month, on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., it’s at Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh. With appetizers sponsored by the NC State Net Impact chapter and the NC State Poole College of Management Sustainability Initiative, Love Food Raleigh is catering, and any leftovers will be composted by CompostNow. You don’t have to pre-register but it helps with logistics. And if you can’t join the conversation this month, sign up for the enewsletter to catch the next one.


Although Montezuma appreciates the “beauty in the simplicity” of the events, he thinks they have a lot of potential, maybe morphing into more structured quarterly events, or a speed-dating type of networking. He’s hesitant to change the drop-in, you’re-never-late format though since “it seems like everybody that comes is enjoying it.”

Fair warning, the spirits aren’t free: it’s buy your own beer. (But that’s not nearly as frightening as Mashable’s horrifying Halloween makeup slideshow.)

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