In 1986 he and his wife, Patricia, participated in the activities of the Bay Area Construction Brigade, a volunteer organization in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua during the Contra War. They also happened across David Farrelly's Book of Bamboo at the local library, and a letter from Patricia brought him to their door, full of stories about Nicaragua.
In brief, after spending six weeks in the campo outside of Esteli with the Brigade, Patricia was in love with Central America and Brian had met his first great clump of tropical bamboo. After that, it was no more than a year before they had sold everything in the Bay Area and driven to Nicaragua where they teamed up with a small, ambitious but very inexperienced bamboo project near Matagalpa.
Next stop was Moín, Costa Rica, where Brian spent a year with the Taiwanese Bamboo Technical Mission, learning traditional furniture-making techniques using Phyllostachys aurea. Here Patricia began to paint the scenes from daily life in this Afro-Caribbean setting that were to make her famous. They were accompanied by a Nicaraguan weaver from Masaya who studied weaving with Taiwanese masters.
During this period the Sandinistas were voted out and at the same time the bamboo project there lost its funding, so that after graduating from the Mission the weaver went back home, but Brian and Patricia stayed on in Costa Rica.
A year later Brian began working as prototype furniture designer for the National Bamboo Project at Los Diamantes in Guapiles. After that Project too expired in 1999, he set up his own bamboo farm and workshop on the Rio Blanco west of Guapiles where he and Patricia live and work today.