Looking back, looking forward

Greetings from Three Rivers, Michigan! Snow is falling here as the day comes to a close and the days get shorter and colder. The *cino community continues to move into winter mode, which means a shift from more social activities toward planning for the coming year, including fundraising and programming.

We know that many of you tend to make charitable contributions at the end of the calendar year, and we would be grateful if you’d remember our work as you do so.

What we’ve done in 2016…

  • In the past year, it’s been a joy to host so many wonderful, curious, thoughtful college students here in Three Rivers as part of our spring break service-learning program, summer internship, and even a self-directed household retreat for a group of students at our community house this past fall. The insights and experiences these students bring to our work here is invaluable, and their presence, even for a short time, is very encouraging to us and to our neighbors. We love hearing stories about the amazing things they’re going on to do in their college communities and the places they land after graduation. To learn more, check out the reflections from four of our summer interns: Tess, Lauren O., Lauren A., Aubrey, and Chelsea.
  • We’ve made some good progress on equipment and infrastructure this year, including our current project to install a large garage door in the former gymnasium at the Huss Project. This space has evolved to be our farm headquarters and a woodshop, creating a need for better access. We also purchased a used tractor that will be a great help with projects that need to be done on the land.
  • We completed our first full year of publishing Topology Magazine. New writers are finding us all the time, and we have appreciated hearing stories from so many corners of the world. Our editorial team, which is spread across three countries and now the ocean (check out Elisabeth’s dispatch from the sailing ship Tres Hombres) has been getting into a good rhythm of working together.
  • We’ve continued to build local relationships and partnerships through neighborhood programming and events. This year, the United Community Assistance Program, an ecumenical support network for low-income people, partnered with us on the Huss Project Farm and provided volunteer and financial support. We also introduced a gallery at Huss Future Fest that featured work from local artists, including budding young photographers from our neighborhood. And we set up new hives and partnered with some local bees for good pollination!

What we’ve learned in 2016…

This fall especially has reinforced for us the importance of building cross-cultural relationships in our community. Since 2009, *cino has been part of Three Rivers Area Faith Community (TRAFC), one of the few places in our community where black and white leaders are intentionally committed to working together across racial boundaries, which has also included gender, denominational, economic, and theological boundaries. We believe it’s critical for us to have places where we can hear the stories of people who are different from us. We’ve also identified a need to re-imagine some of our youth programming to foster deeper relationships, even while we continue to only have a seasonal presence at the Huss Project. We are eager for the day that we can be there year-round!

What we anticipate for 2017…

One of our first commitments for 2017 is to participate in the community march, meal, and service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is organized by TRAFC and has some amazing renewed energy this year. We’ve also created a draft of a plan for the land at the Huss Project and we will be working on implementing some major pieces of that plan, which includes more space for growing food and more easily accessible public play space. Having a plan on paper, even an early draft that will inevitably evolve, has already led to good conversations with our core group about ordering our priorities and coming up with some creative new ways to find the resources we need to continue moving forward. If you don’t have another opportunity to visit, you can see our progress at the annual Huss Future Festival on July 22—save the date!

At a benefit for the Standing Rock Legal Fund this fall, we heard an incredible slam poet who closed his set with a punch: “No hand claps necessary. Do the work.” It has quickly become a refrain for us: “Do the work.” We stand by our commitment to work for the flourishing of our Three Rivers community, and to train others to work for the flourishing of every place they find themselves. Thank you for your support, and for the good work you do in the place where you are.

Wishing you peace and joy,
The *cino community

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