Irish Pubs create culture and community–why doesn’t America have something similar?

Say what you will about the Irish. Being half-Irish, half-Italian, I think I’m fair game for most appropriate and inappropriate cultural jokes. But the Irish (whose economy is finally recovering after having been lied to by their media) have something that is hard to explain, that binds their culture in a way that few other countries in the world do. The spirit of Hibernia is alive and well in many parts of the world, as the Irish have spread across the globe like few other cultures. And yet, everywhere you go, you can find them gathered at the pub. Not just any pub. An Irish pub.

It creates a sense of community, a place of belonging, and a connection to others (true, it often ends up in arm-in-arm singing, or a full blown brawl, often in the same minute).

A new startup in New York known as The New American Tavern is looking to create that sense of place, that sense of belonging, and the community that is lacking for many Americans. The founders lament the “dearth of accessible and inviting civic spaces in the American landscape.”

Their startup plan has been one of careful planning and ample market testing. The founders have conducted about 35 events in New York City at a variety of locations with about 600 attendees to test how the pub/tavern concept can be used as a “third space” (home, office, pub?) where people congregate to become active in civil discussions. The New American Tavern is looking to be in a brick and mortar location by spring 2013.

“Disconnection matters because it undercuts civility, inhibits economic growth, and diminishes general quality of life,” says Todd Schechter, the company’s founder. By bringing people together around values-oriented conversations, Schechter is hoping to find, and create, this connection to others he feels is missing.

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Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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