I first came across Zion Real Estate when I was living in the Seattle area and was looking for reputable agents who would have the community’s best interests in mind. When I met the founder, Derek Catherall, I was highly impressed that he had included community building in his business model. The first words out of his mouth were "people before profits."
Catherall explained to me that he had been in real estate for more than 10 years and had seen too many real estate companies that valued their own interests over the needs of the client and the larger community. Since 2016 Zion has helped hundreds of families find homes, connect to their local communities, and support the common good.
When I heard Catherall’s vision, I began to see how his business practices democracy in a unique way. He wants to see a world where diverse people can be neighbors and support one another throughout the highs and lows of life. He explained that his agents see their primary service as helping people to find homes that will not only strengthen their own personal interests but also will strengthen the community at large. Catherall calls this seeking “win-win scenarios.”
In order to find the right home for their clients, Zion trains their agents to act in ways that parallel practices offered in the Practicing Democracy in your Neighborhood guide such as "Small Acts of Kindness" and "Research Local Social Action Organizations." These practices help agents be better prepared to offer a holistic picture of what life might be like for new homeowners. Catherall shared, "Perhaps there is a religious concern expressed and we do our best to find out what religious resources are in the area to support them."
When I shared with Catherall more of the resources of the Practicing Democracy Project, he was ecstatic to use our content to support his training program for his agents. ZION has since used many different resources within the project such as videos and quotes found in the topic of respect and the topic of diversity. They have also begun to encourage agents to be more aware of potential implicit biases and unconscious judgments and to combat this with practices such as "Judge One Another Favorably." They also encourage agents to practice "Just Like Me." These simple practices help agents become more empathetic and respectful of the people they are serving.
For Zion, each business transaction is regarded as an opportunity to remember all parties in the discernment process, the larger community included. Catherall explains, "Treating all people with kindness and inclusion is a core commitment that we feel makes our community and world a better place." Catherall is thankful that the Practicing Democracy Project has other resources available to help him live out his vision of building a better world from a spiritual foundation.