Brian Berman

Internationally recognized sculptor, “Artist for Peace” and peace builder at heart
Ojai, California
Brian Berman
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner (2021)
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Brian Berman

Brian is an internationally recognized sculptor, “Artist for Peace” and peace builder at heart. 

In the aftermath of 9/11, he started a peer-based listening practice as an alternative to mediation and legal action. His community was polarized between the government’s military action and those wanting humanitarian generosity, building schools, and hospitals where they were needed. This led him to facilitate a weekly Compassionate Listening practice group to teach community members how to listen to each other, reduce polarization, and bridge heart to heart. 

In 2002, Brian co-facilitated a Compassionate Listening Reconciliation Project in Germany to help heal the wounds of the Holocaust and WWII. 36 participants, 18 Germans and 18 Jewish Americans, met in a former munitions labor camp that had been transformed into an Eco Village and retreat center. The group ranged in age from 29 to 8 years. The project generated healing and compassion for what all families went through during and the war’s aftermath. 

After the completion of the Jewish German Project, he attended an International Peace Camp in Switzerland for Israeli, Palestinian, and German participants. Brian was representing other nations as a witness and holding space for peace and healing for the participants and their families. He returned to Germany, visiting Lisa, a German participant of the Jewish German Project and fellow peace-builder. In Berlin their relationship began to blossom. They shared a common vision to help heal collective cultural wounds. A year later they married to partner in peace work. Brian became the co-director of the Jewish German Project and for many years he and Lisa facilitated Jewish-German Reconciliation programs in Germany and US.

As a Jewish-German couple they bring a deep compassion and understanding of how the wounds of the past affect people's health and well-being and how it is passed down to next generations. The heart of their work is peace building from the inside out, cultivating compassion for oneself, expanding to one’s family, friends, community, and into the world with compassionate action. Brian and Lisa are Compassionate Listening facilitators and offer peace building programs locally and internationally, since COVID-19 also on Zoom. They call their work Awakening Peace. 

As a vital peace builder, Brian’s sculptures have been recognized worldwide as peace symbols. His HOLOS design is what led him to envision Peace Cities in 2014. After forming a core group of devoted peace builders in Ojai CA, they applied to become an International City of Peace (ICP) rather than reinventing another organization. In 2015, this was followed by the Ojai City Council proclamation declaring Ojai as an International City of Peace. Since then, Brian has mentored other peace builders to create their city as an International City of Peace.

The Ojai ICP peace building work, which is fiscally sponsored by the non-profit Awakening Peace Inc, focuses on peace education, such as: 

  • Annual Community Celebration of UN International Day of Peace, including Feast for Peace

  • 4th of July Parade with Award-Winning entries 

  • Peace Exhibitions and Performances in photography, music, poetry, dance, and student art work 

  • School Programs: The Peace Pole Project, Graphic Arts Peace Flyer designs 

  • Compassionate Listening and Awakening Peace Circles (after local traumas, natural disasters, racial injustices, COVID-19).

Brian’s spiritual background began in 1970. After a near death experience, he experienced an awakening, which led him to study Eastern philosophy and to become a yoga and meditation teacher. Brian began Citizen Diplomacy actions with the Soviet Union in 1988 at the International Peace Marathon in Moscow. He returned the following year with the organization Global Family where he taught meditation and facilitated spiritual core groups. Along with a Global Family team he helped facilitate the World Peace and Sustainable Development Conference in Costa Rica in 1989, attended by 700 visionaries. Brian is trained in Hakomi Therapy, Attitudinal Healing, Compassionate Listening, and the Resonating Core Group Practice.

Brian’s art and his passion for peace is the service he brings to his community and the world.