Introducing ZPI Affiliate: One River Zen

To strengthen our planetary network, ZPI will feature newly affiliated groups.

Join us here on the Hive to explore some of the offerings of the organizations affiliated with ZPI.

Introducing a new ZPI affiliate group:


What is your organization’s name?

One River Zen

What type of Affiliate would you like to be identified as in our ZPI HIVE?

Training Affiliate

What is your mission?

One River Zen is dedicated to empowering all to open to life fully by embodying wisdom and compassion through the practices of mindfulness and meditation.

Where is your organization based?

Ottawa, IL

How many regular members do you serve?


Tell us a bit about how the group was conceived?

When the pandemic hit, it was clear there was a greater need to bring the transformational practices of Zen Buddhism to a larger audience to help address the suffering that had become so common for so many. Michael, a Dharma Holder in the White Plum lineage, and his partner Vanessa purchased an 1890 Queen Anne Victorian on the banks of the Illinois River in 2021 to launch One River Zen. It serves the surrounding Illinois Valley community and beyond with meditation, classes, and residential retreats.

Tell us about one exciting project, program, retreat, or other offerings you are currently working on?

Right now we’re focused on preparing the Center for residential retreats and building a local meditation community. It is exciting to see new people coming through the doors to practice in a region that hasn’t had a Sangha before!

How do the Three Tenets inform your social engagement? Best to include a specific story or anecdote to illustrate.

Entering a new community in this way requires us to really loosen our grasp on whatever concepts we hold rigidly on what our community needs to look like. We just practice openness, bearing witness to the needs of the community as it forms and compassion begins to surround our Sangha.

What is the most meaningful challenge your organization faces?

As always, with a new outreach like this, resources are stretched, and only a few are doing the ‘lifting.’ It is heartening to see folks’ interest, assistance, and generosity inside and outside the community – without which this wouldn’t be possible.

Your main website URL

To visit One River Zen’s Facebook page, click HERE.

Main contact’s info (name, title, phone number, or email address)

Rev. Michael Shkian Brunner, Founder. Tel. 815.324.2616.  Email:


Michael Shikan Brunner is a Dharma Holder in the White Plum lineage of Soto Buddhism, has been a Zen student and meditation practitioner for over 15 years, and is a Zen Buddhist priest. He serves as the Executive Director of Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago. To learn more, click HERE.






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Introducing ZPI Affiliate: One River Zen

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