The Briarpatch was founded in Menlo Park in 1974. Fathered by Dick Raymond of the Portola Institute and mothered by Gurney Norman, author of "Divine Rights Trip" in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue, the phenomenon of mutual support for right livelihood and simple living was an idea whose time had come.
Folks involved in the extended family/community that grew up around the Whole Earth Catalogue formed various businesses including a coop food market, a woman-owned auto repair store, and several others. Gurney Norman put together the first Briarpatch Review using Whole Earth's layout studio. In it he described this new form of socially conscious, mutual self-support for businesses.
Former banker Michael Phillips was a key organizer of the Briarpatch and his efforts were principally responsible for the extended life of the community during the first decade following its founding. He introduced Dick Raymond to CPA Elliot Buchdrucker, insurance broker Werner Hebenstreit, and lawyer Tom Silk and the five of them together raised enough money to hire the first Briarpatch coordinator Andy (Bahauddin) Alpine, who later became the publisher of Common Ground and Specialty Travel Index. Phillips continued to recruit consultants and coordinators until his withdrawal from active involvement in the late 1980s. Up until that time, he traveled to many communities to assist them in starting their own Briarpatches and even got the Briarpatch principles introduced into the World Bank.
In the beginning, Phillips and Alpine started out using the old C.O.Y.O.T.E offices (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics -- Margo St. James' organization that was working for the decriminalization of prostitution) on San Francisco's Pier 40 to hold free consulting sessions every Wednesday. Very soon, so many people were coming for advice that Phillips asked Dick, Elliot, Werner and Tom to help out.
From 1974 to the present day the Briarpatch has seen more than 1,000 people pass through it's membership roles. There were always about 200-300 names on the current mailing list and 100-200 active members at any given time. Hold a lecture by a Briarpatch celebrity and several hundred people might show up. Throw a party and 50 to a hundred people would attend. Hold a workshop on business skills and you could always get a couple of dozen members to sign up.
In the Bay Area there were also several satellite networks in Marin and Sonoma counties, in the East Bay and on the Peninsula.
In San Francisco there were three coordinators: Andy (Baha'uddin) Alpine, Charles (Shali) Albert Parsons, and Claude Whitmyer. Marin Coordinators included Peter Oldfield, Sylvia Gorman, and Michael Stein. East Bay coordinators included Roger Pritchard, Elissa Brown and Portia Sinnot. Sonoma coordinators included Jim Bucheister, Tom Hargadon, Salli Rasberry, and Joan Leslie Taylor. In 1988, on the Bay Area Peninsula, a branch Briarpatch Network was started by Dave Smith and Paul Hawken. It met weekly at the Late For The Train restaurant in Menlo Park for about a year. Smith & Hawken then decided they should start their own business by importing garden tools from England.
In 1974 Gurney Norman published the first issue of The Briarpatch Review. Over the next few years eleven more issues were published with Annie Styron as editor and Tom Hargadon as publisher of the first eight. Numerous volunteers brought out the final three issues. The first eight issues were published as a book compilation by New Glide/Reed in 1978 and entitled The Briarpatch Book: Experiences in Right Livelihood and Simple Living from the Briarpatch Community.
In addtion to the San Francisco, East Bay, Marin, Sonoma, and Peninsula groups, we know about networks offering similar support structures to those offered by the Briarpatch that appeared in the U.S. in Tennessee and Washingtion and internationally in Australia, Denmark, England, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden.
The Briarpatch Contribution
Find more photos like this on the Briarpatch Network Community Site
Exemplifying the important contributions that Briars have made to society in general and the causes of right livelihood, simple living, social responsibility, social justice, health and well being, the arts, and just plain fun, several other important books have been published by Briars, some of which are listed below. And several important publishers also have been Briars over the years as well.
|Kristin Anundsen||Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World (with Carolyn R. Shaffer)|
Nobody's Victim: Freedom from Therapy and Recovery (with Christopher J. McCullough)
The Faster Learning Organization: Gain and Sustain the Competitive Edge (with Bob Guns)
|Joani Blank||Femalia |
Good Vibrations: The New Complete Guide to Vibrators
Kids First Book About Sex
Herotica 2: A Collection of Women's Erotic Fiction (with Susie Bright)
First Person Sexual: Women & Men Write About Self-Pleasuring
I Am My Lover: Women Pleasure Themselves
Playbook for Women About Sex
Playbook for Men About Sex
Playbook for Kids About Sex
Still Doing It
|Stewart Brand||How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built|
The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility: The Ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer
The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT
|Bart Brodsky||The Teaching Marketplace: Make Money With Freelance Teaching, Corporate Trainings, and on the Lecture Circuit|
|Debra Lynn Dadd||Home Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products in the Home|
The Nontoxic Home and Office: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Health Hazards
Healthful Houses: How to Design and Build Your Own The Nontoxic Home and Office
Healing Environments: Your Guide to Indoor Well Being (with Carol Venolia)
Healthful Homes: How to Design and Build Your Own (with Clint Good)
Nutritional Analysis System
Nontoxic, Natural and Earthwise: How to Protect Yourself and Your Family from Harmful Products and Live in Harmony With the Earth
Nontoxic & Natural
|Jed Diamond||The Whole Man Program: Reinvigorating Your Body, Mind and Spirit After 40|
Surviving Mail Menapause: A Guide for Women and Men.
Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man
The Warrior's Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions
|David Harp||Instant Blues Harmonica 9 Ed: Three Minutes to Blues and Rock Improvisation! |
The Pocket Harmonica Songbook/over 40 Folk, Blues, & Country Favorites for Beginning & Intermediate Players!
Instant Chromatic Harmonica: The Blues/Jazz Improvisation Method
Bending the Blues
How to Play Country & Western Harmonica
Blues & Rock Harp Positions Made Easy
Blues & Rock Harmonica Made Easy: The Complete Method That Everyone Understands!
Music Theory Made Easy
Blues, Rock, and Jazz Improvising Made Easy: For Guitar, Keyboard, Harmonica, Flute, or Any Other Instrument- Including Vocalists
David Harp's Instant Flute/Book and Flute
Make Me Musical: Book, Cassette, Harmonica
David Harp's Instant Blues Harmonica: Zen & the Art of Blues Harp Blowing
How to Whistle Like a Pro (Without Driving Anyone Else Crazy)
Instant Harmonica for Kids
The Three-Minute Meditator (with Nina Feldman)
The New Three Minute Meditator: 30 Simple Ways to Unwind Your Mind Anywhere Anytime (with Nina Feldman)
|Paul Hawken||Growing A Business|
The Ecology of Commerce
|Arthur Hough||Pulling Yourself Together: A Brief Guide to Resolving Inner Conflicts Through Subself Negotiation |
Dynamic Silence: An Introduction to Concentrative Meditation
Let's Have It Out: The Bare-Bones Manual of Fair Fighting
|Jim Lewis||The Astro*Carto*Graphy Map|
|Joanna Macy||Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World |
World As Lover, World As Self
Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems
Dharma and Development: Religion As Resource in the Sarvodaya Self-Help Movement
Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age
Despairwork: Awakening to the Peril & Promise of Our Time
|Patricia Ryan Madson
||Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up|
|Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durett||Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourslelves (with Ellen Hurtzman)|
|Freda Morris||Hypnosis With Friends and Lovers |
Self-Hypnosis in 48 Hours
|Ken Norwood||Rebuilding Community in America: Housing for Ecological Living, Personal Empowerment, and the New Extended Family (with Kathleen Smith)|
|Yana Parker||Damn Good Resume Guide|
Damn Good Resume Catalog: A Crash Course in Resume Writing
Resume Pro: The Professional's Guide
Resume Catalog: 200 Damn Good Examples
Blue Collar & Beyond: Resumes for Skilled Trades & Services
|Fran Peavey||A Shallow Pool of Time: An Hiv+ Woman Grapples With the AIDS Epidemic|
Heart Politics Revisited
By Life's Grace: Musings on the Essence of Social Change.
||A Citizen Legislature: A modest proposal for the random selection of legislators (with Ernest Callenbach)|
Simple Living Investments for Old Age (with Catherine Campbell)
Marketing Without Advertising (with Salli Rasberry)
Honest Business: A Superior Strategy for Starting and ManagingYour Own Business (with Salli Rasberry)
The Seven Laws of Money (with Salli Rasberry)
Gods of Commerce
|Salli Rasberry||Rasberry Exercises: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book (with Robert Greenway)|
Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity and Unleash Your Joy (with Patti Selwyn)
The Art of Dying: Honoring & Celebrating Life's Passages (with Carole Rae Watanabe)
Marketing Without Advertising (with Michael Phillips)
Honest Business: A Superior Strategy for Starting and ManagingYour Own Business (with Michael Phillips)
The Seven Laws of Money (with Michael Phillips)
Running a One-Person Business (with Claude Whitmyer)
|Will Schutz||The Human Element: Productivity, Self-Esteem, and the Bottom Line |
The Truth Element: A Practical Technology for Human Affairs
Elements of encounter
Joy: 20 Years Later: Expanding Human Awareness
Leaders of Schools: Firo Theory Applied to Administrators
|Joan Leslie Taylor||In the Light of Dying: The Journals of a Hospice Volunteer|
|Carole Rae Watanabe||The Art of Dying: Honoring & Celebrating Life's Passages with Salli Rasberry|
|Michael Wenger||Thirty-Three Fingers: A Collection of Modern American Koans|
||Running a One-Person Business (with Salli Rasberry)|
Mindfulness and Meaningful Work: Explorations in Right Livelihood
In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World
|Andy (Baha'uddin) Alpine||Common Ground|
Specialty Travel Index
|Joani Blank||Down There Press|
|Stewart Brand||CoEvolution Quarterly|
Whole Earth Magazine
|Bart Brodsky||Open Exchange (formerly Open Education Exchange)|
|Tom Ferguson||Medical Self-Care Magazine|
|Michael Glicksohn||Yoga Journal|
|Virginia Mudd||Desert Rose Press|
|David Palmer||The Bodywork Entrepreneur|
|Carol Seajay||Feminist Bookstore News|
|Jim Silverman||California Kids History Catalog|
|Lee Spiegel||Crafts Fair Guide|
|Jake Warner||Nolo Press|
In 1980, Stuart Brand organized a "learning expedition" with Paul Hawken and Michael Phillips as fellow faculty. The three of them took participants around to visit Briarpatch businesses as exemplars of values-based businesses that also made a profit.
In 1981, based on this "learning expedition" idea, Andora Freeman, Shali Parsons, Michael Phillips, and Claude Whitmyer founded Noren Institute, a business school affiliated with the Briarpatch. After the first year, Shali Parsons moved away to Hawaii, Charmian Anderson joined Noren breifly and then Salli Rasberry came on board. Noren offered courses twice a year until 1986, including "Honest Management," "Honest Consulting," "Honest Selling," "Running A One-Person Business " and "Marketing Without Advertising. The latter two courses became well known books.
The Noren Institute advertised "Hands-on Business Learning" and used Briarpatch members as teachers. Students came from all around the world to take the courses when offered. Just as with the original Brand/Hawken/Phillips event, classes were taught by taking students, in a bus to study exemplar Briarpatch businesses. Noren had nearly 300 alumni by the end of its five year life-span.
Other Briarpatch Schools
From 1993 through 1997, Briarpatch members were also involved in creating a Master of Arts in Socially Responsible Business at California Institute of Integral Studies that graduated 36 M.A. degree students before a CIIS fiscal crisis caused the program to be cancelled.
For many years Briar Paul Terry was principle consultant, instructional designer, and instructor for the business training programs offered by the San Fransico Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. In 1995, for his work at Renaissance, he recieved the Inc. Magazine/Kaufman Foundation award for "Outstanding Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year."
Other schools in the Briarpatch included:
Briarpatch Food Chain
Dozens of Briars started food related businesses and many of the original food coop businesses were Briars.
Briarpatch Take on Tech
Briars often have unique takes on the use of technology in society. For example, founded by Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link or The Well was one of the earliest technology-mediated social networks, acutally using direct dial-up to the server rather than Internet based access back in the mid 1980s. Stewart also launched the Whole Earth Software Review and many Briars were active in the early stage development of Wired and Salon. Self-help law publisher Nolo Press was one of first publishers anywhere to sell their books online and to offer downloadable e-books. There have been dozens of technology related Briarpatch businesses over the years. Here are some that are still quite active:
Briarpatch Businesses About Community
Community organizing, community building and communities of practice have long been of interest to many Briars. There have been dozens of members involved in co-housing and intentional community from the earliest "hippie" communes to todays modern cooperatives and co-housing projects. Here are some examples:
(Somewhat) Well Known Briarpatch Businesses
Well known Bay Area businesses whose owners were Briars include:
The most complete source of information on Briarpatch can be found in The Briarpatch Book a compilation of the first 8 issues of the Briarpatch Review. It frequently shows up on the shelves of used book stores along with first editions of "The Seven Laws of Money" and "Honest Business," muched preferred over later editions.
What is a Briar?
Some of you may be familiar with the Briarpatch Network. This group is an association of over 500 small business members, who believe in open accounts, business honesty and information sharing. The network has been so successful that other groups have formed in Canada, Japan, Sweden, and Finland. It contains every type of business, including fashion design, furniture manufacture, ranches, restaurants, circuses, libraries, bars, theatre groups, educational institutions, professional services and health clinics.
The Network aims to improve business viability, within a basic framework of honesty and openness. Studies of it have shown that:
1. Competition is a poor model of the real world; co-operation is more accurate. Members set their own prices with relatively little reference to competitors.
2. Profit has a detrimental effect when treated as a primary goal.
3. Social costs (environmental responsibility, etc.) are rewarded when included in business pricing.
4. Honesty is a major factor in business efficiency; dishonesty has negative effects and the extent of harm is proportional to the degree of dishonesty.
This is the reality in small business, where the consequences of a decision are close to the decision maker. But the basic ethical and business environment is the same as the one in which Microsoft, Exxon, et.al. operate.
The Briarpatch is a system of self-reliance and mutual support, based on the ideas that you are a Briar if:
The best way to find a Briarpatch where you live, is to just start one.
Claude Whitmyer, January 1, 2007
Historical Briarpatch support and benefits (what we used to do)
|Monthly meetings: Mutual support for
doing good business.
Consultations: Clinics and technical assistance from volunteers who are experts in their own fields.
Networking: Cooperative discussions and support from other Briarpatch members. Currently available through http://briarpatch.ning.com/
Occasional parties, classes, workshops, seminars, directory of members, and newsletter.