Groups grow in strength, joy, and energy by paying attention to relationships.
When we feel connected with others in a group; when a group holds us accountable to core intentions and agreements; when our feelings and our ideas are honored as we take tangible steps together: we taste the power of cooperation as more than a sum of parts. And we discover in ourselves the motivation to share, to listen, to care.
When people trust each other, autonomy and agility thrive. When people know they matter, they follow-through. When people listen to each other, their collective decisions and actions carry a wisdom beyond any of them individually. They make change.
Create space for feelings. Plan agendas well. Focus on deepening relationships. Make communication agreements -- and be accountable to them. Speak the hard things. Trust your intuition. Take small steps. Honor failure. Celebrate success.
We embody our values in our presence and practice.
Meetings, retreats, conferences. Three days, three hours, 30 minutes. Your time is valuable, especially when multiplied by everyone in the room. Let's make every minute count, and feel spacious at the same time.
Our specialty is in building consensus that draws on the unique perspective of everyone in the room -- even if your formal decisionmaking is Robert's Rules of Order.
Sometimes a relationship needs special care. Whether a profound disagreement that has built over years into bitterness and acrimony, or a recent misunderstanding that brings up more than you expected: having a caring, respected third party can make all the difference.
Our approach uses various tools to support people in taking responsibility for their own feelings and needs, and building their ability to hear and feel heard. We encourage you not to compete over whose story is "right", but rather to discover ways to bring your stories into closer relationship.
Pay attention to your goals: to negotiate a settlement? collaborate on a project? return to deep trust and care for each other? What will help you get there?
Mediations generally start with one-on-one interviews between the mediator and each of the parties. You'll have full opportunity to share your experiences and needs, confident that the mediator will take them into account during the session.
Working well with others is a skill, and it grows by leaps and bounds with experience. A focused training can rapidly increase your confidence and toolset as you continue to grow in groups. We provide an array of trainings, each one tailored to the needs of your group or community. The following are merely examples:
We also support new and long-established organizations looking at legal and financial structures as they seek to embody the values and practices of a new world, while remaining rock solid in the existing legal system. Whether you're looking to shift a corp. to a coop., buy a house as a community, or set up basic agreements that scale over time, we have experience and ideas to share. Contact us for details.
has been an activist and organizer in portland for more than a decade, spanning environmental, labor, global justice, and democratic economics movements. For the last five years he has been legal and financial coordinator for TLC Farm, a sustainability education center combining intentional community, permaculture design, and public benefit using innovative land use and legal tenure structures. He works with Recode Portland, focused on performance zoning and how city policy can support citizen-led innovation towards sustainability. He has consulted for a variety of communities and collectives, with a particular focus on skills and structures that support long-term cooperation.
He is also a skilled facilitator and mediator with 15 years of experience supporting healthy process in activist organizations, cooperatives, non-profits, intentional communities, and other kinds of groups. His active approach is rooted in attention to the ongoing patterns and relationships that grow consensus into living reality rather than formal procedure. He brings to his practice relevant experience as a co-founder of the residential worker collective Cedar Moon, the non-profit TLC Farm, and the group process collective Cascadia Center. brush offers trainings in consensus, facilitation, and social permaculture.
So far, it evens out enough that he's able to make ends meet.
Now, for some potential collaborators familiar with fixed hourly rates this approach can be confusing, even stressful. So we make it as easy as possible: when the work is done, we'll send you something like an invoice (you can call it that for your records) which details the hours worked, and includes some comparison hourly rates and/or in-kind gift suggestions.
Then you make the choice. Give what you can so that you feel generous, joyful, and responsible. That's what we're trying to do!
"...brush is one of the sharpest and most perceptive facilitators I have met ... deep experience ... patient, clear, fair, and committed to deep democracy..."
I heartily recommend brush as a facilitator and trainer. I have known him for six years and have seen him work in a variety of settings, ranging from small collectives to non-profit organizations and academic conferences. brush is one of the sharpest and most perceptive facilitators I have met. His deep experience related to progressive social change and the non-profit sector makes it unlikely that he will be caught by surprise by any particular group dynamic. His familiarity with the political, economic, organizational, and legal dimensions of small organizations that are striving to model good process guides his judgment as he helps groups move toward greater effectiveness. He is patient, clear, fair, and committed to deep democracy. Please let me know if I can be of any further help.
"...facilitated our meetings for many months ... presence is grounded, alert and engaging, conveying a strong intelligence coupled with a sincere caring ... participants enthusiastically endorsed his training skills ..."
At his request, it is my pleasure to recommend John Brush as a community process facilitator and organizational consultant.
I have had the occasion to call upon John's services both as a member of a non-profit organization's Board of Directors and as a member of a local cohousing community.
In the first instance, John, or Brush, as he is known, provided on-going support for The City Repair Project, a projects-based non-profit organization that was struggling with lack of effectiveness in its use of consensus decision-making. Brush facilitated our meetings for many months, gently, yet firmly carrying the group process forward with insight and a respectful extension of education and support as was appropriate to bring the group together, making sure each person was heard and advocating for the overall needs of the community when necessary.
Brush also lead trainings in consensus-based decision-making for several local cohousing communities, my own, Columbia EcoVillage, included. The participants enthusiastically endorsed his training skills in their feedback and we are currently working with him to schedule additional trainings in the autumn.
Brush's presence is grounded, alert and engaging, conveying a strong intelligence coupled with a sincere caring for the well-being of those whom he has been asked to shepherd. Brush is always thoughtful in his approach to the challenges presented to him during group facilitation and trainings, demonstrating in his consideration of problems both creativity and flexibility, and modeling for others while he does so just what it takes to stay resilient while coping with change.
Brush is a valued member of Portland's progressive community as a professional and a neighbor. Please feel free to contact me personally with any additional questions about his services you may have.
With warm regards, Kathleen Walsh
"...rare facilitators who has this capacity to empower people to imagine, develop and manifest their vision ... meets people where they are, and yet helps them tap into where they'd like to be ... deep understanding of the challenges that block our growth ..."
It is one thing to have a vision...to be able to see the possibilities for transformation, for a way of living that more closely reflects our deepest values. It is another thing entirely, to empower the people around you to tap into their own vision, to sense within themselves the possibility of change. Brush is one of those rare facilitators who has this capacity to empower people to imagine, develop and manifest their vision of a different world. He meets people where they are, and yet helps them tap into where they'd like to be, and by drawing upon his own life experience and knowledge, he offers guidance and practical support that helps people move along that path in the direction of their goals. His leadership reveals both his capacity for deep understanding of the challenges that block our growth as individuals and as communities, as well as his compassion for the very human struggles we bring to our work. If you want to nurture the growth of your project, your business, or your community, you would be well served to invite the support that Brush is able to offer.