Briarpatch Coordinators

Helping Make a Better World, One Business at a Time

San Francisco Bay Area Coordinators

Andy (Bahauddin) Alpine

An attorney by training, Andy Alpine was the first Briarpatch coordinator. From its founding in 1974, the Briarpatch grew quickly under Andy’s coordination. Soon the workload was more than he could handle alone. He recruited Charles Albert Parsons (Shali)  to be the second coordinator. At first, the workload was shared. Later, as his publishing business took off, Alpine turned his focus to that.

In 1984, Andy started publishing Common Ground magazine and, later, Specialty Travel IndexCommon Ground pioneered the idea of listing all the business-to-consumer services and activities available from small, really small, and one-person businesses, cause-driven initiatives, or arts-based projects.

Andy Alpine
Andy Alpine

The listings took the form of a directory/magazine that was distributed widely around the Bay Area. Under different ownership now, Common Ground is still going and celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2014. 

Specialty Travel Index was another pioneering publication using the listing format. This time for travel adventure companies.

Cover Common Ground Magazine and Catalog
Instagram Specialty Travel Index
Charles Albert (Shali) Parsons (R.I.P.)

Shali may have been the very first “right livelihood guide” in the Briarpatch. To avoid the expense of a traditional office, he met with clients in different outdoor locations, including the fly-casting pool at Golden Gate Park and a bench in a park near his San Francisco loft.

Shali had the perfect background to invent the “right livelihood” approach to career, work, and business coaching. His MSW training and early social work career combined with his Briarpatch experience made him the ideal pioneer.

Shali was the coordinator until 1984 when he moved to Hawaii where he continued to offer right livelihood guidance, often bartering for chickens, eggs, or produce of some kind.

Charles Albert Parsons (Shali)
Charles Albert Parsons (Shali) in Hawaii
Shali in Hawaii
Claude Whitmyer (Br'er Claude)

Claude was recruited by Michael and Shali to join the Briarpatch Consulting Team in 1982. He was invited to become coordinator in 1984. 

At the time, Claude had more than 10 years of experience as a community organizer, environmental activist, entrepreneur, educator and international consultant. His diverse experience made him an ideal network coordinator and consultant to the members.

Since that time, Claude co-authored or edited and contributed to three books:

  • Running a One-Person Business (with Salli Rasberry and Michael Phillips).
  • Mindfulness and Meaningful Work: Explorations in Right Livelihood 
  • In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World.

These three books represent four of Claude’s strongest interests: business, community, mindfulness, and right livelihood.

Claude with apprentices Sarah Parton and June Cheng.
Claude with Apprentices June Cheng and Sarah Parsons.
Claude Teaching a Workshop on Understanding Financial Statements
Claude Teaching a Workshop on Understanding Financial Statements

Other Coordinators

East Bay Coordinators

(Alameda and Contra Costa Counties)

Roger Pritchard

While in graduate school, Roger Pritchard drove cross-country to the Bay Area from Boston “the summer before the summer of love.” The sight of San Francisco through the rainbow arch of what is now dubbed the Robin Williams tunnel evoked what Pritchard calls a “THIS IS IT experience.” Roger has lived in the Bay Area ever since.

As a Fulbright scholar at Brandeis University, he came to the Bay Area to continue his research exploring “how the West handles dying.” At Brandeis, Pritchard had met and interviewed Dame Cicely Sanders, the British founder of hospice and palliative care, in London, and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, engaged in the work that formed the foundation for her landmark book, On Death and Dying. “A main thing that I came up with” Roger explains, “is that Western medicine views death as the enemy, doctors as the warriors, and the body as the battleground. This approach has big consequences.”

After moving to Berkeley, he was a Research Associate in sociology, at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco for several years. He was also manager of KPFA radio from 1973-1974, a period that included the Chile coup d’état, the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and the Nixon resignation.

In 1980, Roger founded Financial Alternatives, the business he still heads. Its mission is to provide the business skills that socially conscious projects and organizations require.

Young Roger Pritchard
Roger Pritchard
Elissa Brown

Elissa Brown is the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Funding Development Coordinator.

Originally trained as a lawyer, Elissa moved into program development and grant writing 25 years ago.

Elissa Brown

She worked for the City of Oakland in the areas of community and economic development before moving to a small town in the Sierra Nevada in 2000.

Since then she has worked as a grant writer and program developer for local government, tribes, and nonprofit organizations.

Elissa was hired by the SNC in 2014 to provide information and assistance about funding opportunities and strategies to communities throughout the region. She loves to help people get things done and has even written a book, How to Get Things Done in a Small Town.

Portia Sinnot

Portia Sinnot lives in Sebastapol now, where she’s executive director of Lite Initiatives, a group that promotes simple living. They run Community Bikes in Santa Rosa, too.

Portia is an evangelist for “pod-sharing” as part of her “car-light” lifestyle. 

Portia Sinnott
Portia shares her car keys.

Lite Initiatives reminds us of the “community treasury” practices of the early Briarpatch.

“It’s based on trust,” Portia says. For example, she has use of a neighbor’s truck when she needs to haul something larger than her compact car can handle. “If everyone is going to yoga across town at the same time, you start asking each other, ‘Want a ride?’”

Trician Cummings

Missing Information

Is this you? Or, do you recognize this person? Our memories are not what they used to be but we know she played an important role as a coordinator for the East Bay network. We want to honor her but need some bio stuff. Use the contact form if you can help.

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Sonoma County Coordinators

Jim Everett

Founder of Living Earth Crafts, arguably the first new age massage table and spa station manufacturer.

Jim played an important role as an early coordinator for the Sonoma network. We want to honor him but need some bio stuff. Use the contact form if you can help.

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Jim Bucheister, CPA

Author of Tax Planning for the One-Person Business.

Jim Bucheister, too, played an important role as a coordinator for the Sonoma network. We also want to honor him but need some bio stuff. Use the contact form if you can help.

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Joan Leslie Taylor

Taylor’s role in Briarpatch was a keystone. She’s an accountant and the platform of success for any business is made up of its finances: money in, money out, profit & loss, finding the money to launch or grow, tracking it all with accuracy. Joan has rescued, educated, and served many Briars and Briar-like businesses.

Joan also volunteered as a hospice worker for many years and wrote the seminal book In the Light of Dying, widely cited and still available on Amazon or eBay.

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Cover for In the Light of Dying
Salli Rasberry (R.I.P.)

Rasberry made books. She did it her whole adult life. If Salli wasn’t making a book, it was vacation or healing time. Rasberry’s books were always about major concerns of her tribe. She brought them into existence in an uncanny “just in time” manner. Among the most well known are these:

Right when the first lump of us was raising children:

  • Rasberry Exercises co-authored with Robert Greenway. A book about parent-organized schools and educating children. 

Right when we needed to figure out money.

  • Seven Laws of Money, co-authored with Michael Phillips. A hippie bible for money.

Right when we needed to know we were doing the right thing.

  • Honest Business: A Superior Strategy for Starting and Managing Your Own Business with Michael Phillips. This is the book that introduced the concept of “tradeskill.” It also chronicles the first three years of the Briarpatch Network.

Right when we needed guidance for launching and growing more money-making projects.

  • Running a One-Person Business, 1st Edition. Co-authors Claude Whitmyer & Michael Phillips. ISBN: 0898152372; © 1989; 224 pages.
    • Pretty much “THE” handbook on the one-person business. Based on a course by the same name offered by Noren Institute (a partnership of Rasberry, Phillips, Whitmyer, and Andora Freeman). While this edition is still widely available, the second, revised edition contains 50-plus additional pages of helpful guidance.
  • Running a One-Person Business, 2nd Edition. Co-author Claude Whitmyer (with Michael Phillips). ISBN: 0898155983; © 1994; 280 pages.
    • The second, revised edition with a Foreword by Tom Peters.

Right when we needed to refine our approach and cut wasteful spending on useless advertising.

  • Marketing Without Advertising: Inspire Customers to Rave About Your Business to Create Lasting Success, Multiple Editions, co-authored with Michael Phillips. A perennial best seller. Like Running a One-Person Business, Marketing Without Advertising is based on a course by the same name offered by Noren Institute. 

Right when we needed a big energy boost and a re-commitment to our visions and purposes.

  • Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity and Unleash Your Joy (co-authored with Padi Selwyn).

Right when we started to face elder-care responsibilities and our own mortality.

  • The Art of Dying: Honoring and Celebrating Life’s Passages Co-authored with Carole Rae Watanabe. 

Rasberry was also a partner in Noren Institute, the private, alternative business school co-founded by Briars Andora Freeman, Claude Whitmyer, Charmian Anderson, Charles (Shali) Albert Parsons, and Michael Phillips.

Young Salli Rasberry
Rasberry Exercises
Rasberry Exercises
Cover Seven Laws of Money
Seven Laws of Money
Cover Honest Business
Cover: Honest Business
Cover Running a One-Person Business
Running a One-Person Business
Salli and Claude 10-Speed Publicity Shot
Claude and Salli
Cover Marketing Without Advertising
Cover: Marketing Without Advertising
Salli and Michael
Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry
Cover Living Your Life Out Loud
Salli Rasberry
Cover The Art of Dieing
Salli Rasberry
Tom Hargadon (R.I.P.)

Early in his career—fresh from Harvard with a law degree—Tom Hargadon served as assistant to statesman Henry Kissinger.

Hargadon had an abiding interest in the evolution of the Internet and was called on to consult worldwide on communications technology of all kinds. He had been editor/publisher of several newsletters devoted to these topics.

Tom loved the pub/restaurant scene. In his spare time he partnered in both Finnigan’s Wake in San Francisco and The Blue Heron Inn restaurant in Duncan Mills on the Russian River.

Tom Hargadon also acted as a publisher for The Briarpatch Review.

Tom Hargadon
Finnigan's Wake
Finnigan's Wake

Marin County Coordinators

Peter Oldfield

Peter played an important role in nurturing the Marin Briarpatch through its early formative period.

With his Alaron Center, he provided a beautiful space in Sausalito for meetings.

The Center also served as an interesting site visit for out-of-towners curious about the Briarpatch.

Peter Oldfield's Alaron Center, Sausalito
Alaron Center, Sausalito
Peter Oldfield
Peter Oldfield's Alaron Center, Sausalito
Alaron Center, Sausalito
Peter Oldfield's Alaron Center, Sausalito
Alaron Center, Sausalito
Michael P. Stein (R.I.P.)
Michael Stein
Michael Stein
Mike co-teaching an MAB course.

From a bio Mike wrote himself:

Michael Stein is a general business planner and consultant to public and private businesses, whether start-ups or seasoned operations.

Stein applies his more than 40 years of experience from inside and outside of business operations to help owners and managers of companies in telecommunications, finance, and consumer products – especially where customer service, employee relations, and new ways of working are integral to the success of the business.

Michael is especially interested in why people do what they do and how you can get them to change.

He is also concerned with helping people and organizations work more efficiently and effectively while having a satisfactory work experience.

Prior to helping with the coordination of the Marin network, Mike had been a financial analyst, corporate planner, acquisition and long-range planner, manager of corporate market research, and qualitative market researcher.

At the age of 54, Mike returned to graduate school to get a Master of Arts in Business from the Business Department in the School for Transformative Learning at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

The average age of other program enrollees was early to mid 30s, but Mike kept pace and sometimes acted as a mentor to the younger candidates.

Natasha Torres

Is this you? Or, do you recognize this person? Our memories are not what they used to be but we know Natasha played an important role as a coordinator for the Marin network and as a co-founder of Common Good School. We want to honor her but need some bio stuff. Use the contact form if you can help.

Sylvia ??? Marin Coordinator

Peninsula Coordinators

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 a business importing garden tools from England.

Dave Smith (R.I.P.)

Like a lot of Briars, early in his career Dave Smith was a social activist. Among his many contributions to the sustainability movement, He was:

  • Executive assistant to Cesar Chavez of United Farm Workers fame.
  • A co-founder of Briarpatch Natural Foods Co-op in Menlo Park, California.
  • Co-founder of Smith & Hawken the gardening company.
    • Smith & Hawken is most well known for introducing durable English gardening tools to America.
Dave Smith
Dave Smith

Smith has also held leadership positions in socially responsible companies such as

  • Real Goods
  • SelfCare Magazine
  • Seeds of Change
  • Diamond Organics

Beyond that Dave has been a key figure in the organic food movement. Among his contributions are these:

  • Co-founded Organic Bouquet, the first national organic floral company.
  • Was part of the team that brought Organic To Go to market.
    • Organic To Go was a chain of restaurants offering organic take-out and home delivery.
  • Served on the board of directors of Ecology Action
  • Was a board member of Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op in Mendocino County, California
  • Co-founded Mendocino Organic Network, an alliance of farmers and consumers promoting local, organic, and sustainable farming.

Smith’s book To Be of Use: The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work makes the case for business as a force for radical change. It has two parallel tracks feeding one into the other until intimately bound together in a manifesto for meaningful work:

  • Track 1 is the story of Dave’s transformation and rise in the sustainable business movement.
  • Track 2 is the core of the manifesto, defining meaningful work and offering powerful strategies to find it.

Check out this interesting interview with Dave from back in 2005, just after To Be of Use came out: 

In latter years, Dave Smith also help organize a Mendocino County Briarpatch.

Cover: To Be of Use
Paul Hawken

In 1965, Paul Hawken worked with the staff of Martin Luther King, Jr. organization in Selma, Alabama just prior to the historic March on Montgomery.

Hawken also worked in New Orleans as a staff photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality, focusing on voter registration drives in Louisiana and Florida and photographing the Ku Klux Klan in Meridian, Mississippi. Paul was assaulted by Klan members but rescued by the FBI.

Hawken became a serial entrepreneur who evolved into a social commentator and writer.

In the late 1960s, he was instrumental in the growth of Erewhon Trading Company, one of the earliest natural foods wholesalers relying solely on sustainable farming methods.

Paul Hawken
Paul Hawken

In the 70s Paul was active in the Briarpatch and was an early contributor to the Briarpatch Review. (See the first-ever history of the Briarpatch written by Paul and published in New Age Journal, July/August, 1976.)

In the late 80s, Paul’s friend Dave Smith and he accidentally started Smith and Hawken Tools which grew into a successful garden supply catalog and chain of retail stores. They just wanted some good quality tools for local gardening projects. The rest is history.

In the mid-90s, Paul became active in spreading the word about sustainable development and launched a U.S. company to teach and support environmental system thinking by corporations, cities, governments, unions, and higher ed.

To share ideas as widely as possible, Hawken has been a prolific writer. He has written many popular books, including:

Growing a Business (1987), which, along with the PBS series of the same name, inspired thousands of people to start or change their own small enterprises. This 17-part documentary program explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsible companies, using real businesses across the country as examples. The show was broadcast in 115 countries and reached more than 100 million people.

Cover Growing a Business

The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability (1993) was seen by many as a clarion call to for the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions, It was voted the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools.

Cover Ecology of Commerce

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999), co-authored with Amory Lovins, popularized the now wide-spread idea of “natural capital” and the “double or triple bottom line” from direct accounting of exploitation or destruction of ecosystem assets.

Natural Capitalism has been hailed by many as proof beyond any argument that there are technologies already available, with more just on the horizon, which will permit us to build positive cash flows through clean utilization of ecosystem assets. Driven by direct accounting, the wealth we can generate will far surpass the profits made through uncontrolled pollution and over-exploitation of resources.

Cover Natural Capitalism

In Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World (2007), Hawken was among the earliest observers to point out the vast, as yet uncoordinated movement toward a paradigm shift from a focus on personal advantage and power accumulation to widespread ecological, social, and spiritual justice. This book and the associated database of hundreds of thousands of activist organizations brought to light the unheralded efforts of millions of individuals to move global society toward economic and political fairness for all.

Cover Blessed Unrest

His 2017 book Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming is an anthology making the case for immediate and sustained action to reverse current climate trends.

Cover Drawdown

Paul Hawken is also a popular public speaker and among his many accolades, he was awarded the Small Business Administration “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1990 and the Green Cross Millennium Award for Individual Environmental Leadership presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003.

Mendocino Coordinator

Dave Smith

Dave Smith organized a Mendocino County network (see Dave Smith under “Peninsula” above).

Dave Smith

Japan Coordinator

Yoshio Miwa

Yoshio Miwa was instrumental in organizing two different networks in Japan modeled after the Briarpatch.

Miwa, san, Yoshio

Sweden Coordinators

Ulla Olin Stridh

Ulla Stridh is a Jungian psychotherapist. Inspired by Briarpatch, she helped organize a network of businesses in Sweden.

Ulla Olin Stridh
Göran Wiklund

Göran Wiklund is a principal at U&We, a sustainability consultancy business established in 1995. U&We describe themselves as a “Catalyst for Good Business” by which they mean combining profitability with environmental and social responsibility.

Goran Wiklund

The firm has broad capabilities in environmental and climate strategies. Their strengths are in communication, teaching, and understanding the change process. Clients have included: Coop, Investor, Oriflame, Arla, Securitas, and Swedbank. Göran became Chairman of the Board in 2013.

Inspired by Briarpatch, he helped organize a network of businesses in Stockholm.

Three Briarpatch Coordinators

Yoshio Miwa visiting Marin Briarpatch

Yoshio Miwa visiting from Japan and Claude Whitmyer from San Francisco dropping in on Peter Oldfield at Alaron Center, Sausalito.

Left to right: Yoshio Miwa, Japan Coordinator; Claude Whitmyer, San Francisco Coordinator, Peter Oldfield Marin Coordinator.

Other 'Patches We Have Known

  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • England
  • France
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Norway