Who we are
“Bramble”, initially a mashup of “Brian” and “Bo”, consists of two Seattleites who met in 2009 as dewy-eyed grad students in real estate class, each wanting to learn how to be a better kind of developer than what we were typically seeing.
We work together like two ends of a battery. I (Bo) represent most of the outright expression in our work together: public speaking, facilitating, writing, drawing, experimenting. Brian holds a container for my ideas to thrive: grounding me with a different perspective, offering reality checks, and nurturing me through many a tumultuous moment.
From the beginning, I’d liked how un-real-estate-y the name Bramble is. Wild, prickly, and often ignored, brambles resonate with a different energy than the control, excellence, and dominance that real estate tends to be inspired by. Bramble is rooted in the ground, and because it nourishes, birds and other wildlife won’t stop re-planting it.
We wrote here in 2012:
We’re most interested in the corners of the real estate industry that intersect with community development and neighborhood-level social structure. We believe that real estate developers are accountable for the block-by-block demographics that contribute to public life, and that this power can be better utilized in collaboration with the communities that developers serve.
In 2016, we added:
We are an inevitable part of growth and change, while remaining conflicted about the negative impacts that can come with it….
We think it’s critical to understand “good” density beyond the rules of how neighborhoods are permitted to develop. Who develops them, and who lives in them, is also key. At first we called this X factor “socially responsible development”, although “development that gives a damn” is probably more accurate.
(I’d wanted to call it “development that gives a shit”, but see, that’s how Brian balances me out.)
In recent years, my thinking has been influenced by my studies in core energetics, a somatic healing modality. I now better understand how my physical body is shaped by the health of my spirit. As my spirit heals, my body also becomes more integrated.
Body, spirit, land, and language are not separate. Phrases such as land “use”, real estate “development”, and urban “planning” reflect the habitual disconnection in our collective spirit.
I’ve come to believe that everyone, at their core, is connected with the land and with each other. For most of us, this knowing is buried under layers of numbing, control, and forgetting—ways to protect ourselves from the pain of disconnection. My work has become an exploration of how to help myself and others remember what we already know.
Brian’s parallel journey in the time since the heady days of graduate school has been a search of discovery on the role of nature in our lives. “Mountain time” is now a requisite before or during any period of change. The thought about the nature of relationships in the built environment has evolved away from the dogmas of urban planning and real estate to finding a way to find meaning, better relationships and to connect ourselves to the natural order.
Since June 2018, I’ve been the Real Estate Strategist with the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) at the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development. EDI focuses on systemic-level interventions to reverse displacement, by supporting independent BIPOC community-led initiatives. My contributions there center on relationships and collective intelligence. I’m currently on leave, focusing on my writing and healing. Bo’s resume
Brian is a Realtor, and some-time development consultant, who significantly discounts his commission for clients willing to donate that amount to to BIPOC community-led anti-displacement efforts in Seattle of the client’s own choice. Especially with clients whose employers offer a donation match, this is an effort to offset some of the private gains caused by Seattle’s market pressure, and to channel it back to communities most impacted by gentrification and displacement. Brian’s resume