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History of The Briarpatch Network - © 1983

Compiled from archives by a committee of members.

Drilling for Information
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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.

Former banker Michael Phillips got Dick Raymond CPA Elliot Buchdrucker, insurance broker Werner Hebenstreit, and lawyer Tom Silk all together together and 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 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 they asked Dick, Elliot, Werner and Tom to help out.

From 1974 to 2002 the Briarpatch saw more than 1,000 people pass through it's membership roles.

In the Bay Area there have also been several satellite networks in Marin and Sonoma counties, in the East Bay and on the Peninsula.

Coordinators have included:

We have also been in touch with networks offering similar support structures to the Briarpatch:


In 1974 Gurney Norman published the first compilation of community stories entitled The Briarpatch Review.

An ever evolving team of Network memebers launched the next effort soon thereafter and published eleven more issues in all.The first eight issues were published as a book compilation by New Glide/Reed in 1978 entitled The Briarpatch Book: Experiences in Right Livelihood and Simple Living from the Briarpatch Community