*cino Work, Education, Event, People, Three Rivers

Witness for Peace: Difference

…oppression dehumanizes everyone. It is dehumanizing to be diminished by comments and jokes, to have our needs ignored, to be disrespected, and to be treated as an object. It is also dehumanizing to be manipulated by our conditioning, to have our perception be rigidly restricted when it comes to realities outside our lived experience, to be prevented from being moved by human suffering, and to be made immune to someone else’s voice. Whatever social memberships we hold, oppressive social conditioning limits our ability to be fully human. It limits our emotional range, reduces the depth of our empathy, and often keeps us from speaking, listening, loving, and living fully.

Letitia Nieto
Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment

We have curated a series of quotes and writings in a booklet for our Weekly Witness for Peace at the Huss Project; the booklet is given to each attendee as an aid for reflection on what our personal work for peace might look like. We will also publish these pieces throughout the month on our web site.

This week’s reading is an excerpt from “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” in Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider:

Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters. 

Within the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes which can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged….

Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.

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*cino Work, Education, Event, People, Three Rivers

Witness for Peace: A Litany for Those Who Aren’t Ready for Healing

Now, we’ve got to have some changes in this country. And not only changes for the black man, and only changes for the black woman, but the changes we have to have in this country are going to be for the liberation of all people—because nobody’s free until everybody’s free.

Fannie Lou Hamer
“Nobody’s Free Until Everybody’s Free”
National Women’s Political Caucus, 1971

We have curated a series of quotes and writings in a booklet for our Weekly Witness for Peace at the Huss Project; the booklet is given to each attendee as an aid for reflection on what our personal work for peace might look like. We will also publish these pieces throughout the month on our web site.

This week’s reading is below:

A Litany for Those Who Aren’t Ready for Healing

by Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce

Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.

Let us not rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.

Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.

Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.

Let us not rush past the loss of this mother’s child, this father’s child…someone’s beloved son.

Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.

Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.

Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life in community together.

Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.

Instead…

Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially every 28 hours.

Let us lament the loss of a teenager, dead at the hands of a police officer who described him as a demon.

Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.

Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.

Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.

Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage, and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.

Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.

Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground

Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.

God, in your mercy…

Show me my own complicity in injustice.

Convict me for my indifference.

Forgive me when I have remained silent.

Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.

Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.

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*cino Work, Education, Event, People, Three Rivers

Witness for Peace: Love

We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.

Robert Jones, Jr. (@sonofbaldwin)

We have curated a series of quotes and writings in a booklet for our Weekly Witness for Peace at the Huss Project; the booklet is given to each attendee as an aid for reflection on what our personal work for peace might look like. We will also publish these pieces throughout the month on our web site.

This week’s reading is an excerpt from Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown:

One thing I have observed: When we are engaged in acts of love, we humans are at our best and most resilient. The love in romance that makes us want to be better people, the love of children that makes us change our whole lives to meet their needs, the love of family that makes us drop everything to take care of them, the love of community that makes us work tirelessly with broken hearts.

Perhaps humans’ core function is love. Love leads us to observe in a much deeper way than any other emotion. I think of how delightful it is to see something new in my lovers’ faces, something they may only know from inside as a feeling.

If love were the central practice of a new generation of organizers and spiritual leaders, it would have a massive impact on what was considered organizing. If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through the eyes of love. We would see that there’s no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land or a new idea—but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential.

We would organize with the perspective that there is wisdom and experience and amazing story in the communities we love, and instead of starting up new ideas/organizations all the time, we would want to listen, support, collaborate, merge, and grow through fusion, not competition.

We would understand that the strength of our movement is in the strength of our relationships, which could only be measured by their depth. Scaling up would mean going deeper, being more vulnerable and more empathetic.

Photo credit: AK Press

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*cino Work, Education, Event, People, Three Rivers

Witness for Peace: We Need to Learn to Listen

We have curated a series of quotes and writings in a booklet for our Weekly Witness for Peace at the Huss Project; the booklet is given to each attendee as an aid for reflection on what our personal work for peace might look like. We will also publish these pieces throughout the month on our web site.

This week’s reading is an excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer:

The Skywoman story, shared by the original peoples throughout the Great Lakes, is a constant star in the constellation of teachings we call the Original Instructions. These are not “instructions” like commandments, though, or rules; rather, they are like a compass: they provide an orientation but not a map. The work of the living is creating that map for yourself. How to follow the Original Instructions will be different for each of us and different for every era….

In the public arena, I’ve heard the Skywoman story told as a bauble of colorful “folklore.” But, even when it is misunderstood, there is power in the telling. Most of my students have never heard the origin story of this land where they were born, but when I tell them, something begins to kindle behind their eyes. Can they, can we all, understand the Skywoman story not as an artifact from the past but as instructions for the future? Can a nation of immigrants once again follow her example to become native, to make a home?

Look at the legacy of poor Eve’s exile from Eden: the land shows the bruises of an abusive relationship. It’s not just land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land. As Gary Nabhan has written, we can’t meaningfully proceed with healing, with restoration, without “re-story-ation.” In other words, our relationship with land cannot heal until we hear its stories. But who will tell them?

In the Western tradition there is a recognized hierarchy of beings, with, of course, the human being on top—the pinnacle of evolution, the darling of Creation—and the plants at the bottom. But in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as “the younger brothers of Creation.” We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn—we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance. Their wisdom is apparent in the way that they live. They teach us by example. They’ve been on the earth far longer than we have been, and have had time to figure things out. They live both above and below ground, joining Skyworld to the earth. Plants know how to make food and medicine from light and water, and then they give it away.

I like to imagine that when Skywoman scattered her handful of seeds across Turtle Island, she was sowing sustenance for the body and also for the mind, emotion, and spirit: she was leaving us teachers. The plants can tell us her story; we need to learn to listen.

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Education, Event

Witness for Peace: When Peace Becomes Obnoxious

*cino is hosting a Weekly Witness for Peace at the Huss Project every Tuesday in October and the first Tuesday in November. Each week, people will gather for 30 minutes in silence while reflecting on what is needed in our community for the work of peace. They will stroll the trails, sit down to meditate or pray, walk the labyrinth to grieve, read to guide reflection—whatever it is they need in the moment to connect with those around our city, our country, and our world seeking real, lasting, and robust peace.

We have curated a series of quotes and writings in a booklet that will be given to each attendee as an aid for reflection; we will also publish these pieces throughout the month on our web site. You’ll find the first piece, an excerpt from a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr., below. These readings are a reminder that peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the lived experience of justice for all in our city—and that working for peace is difficult. For some, these readings may be challenging to encounter; seek to understand your feelings of defense or confusion. For some, they will mirror painful experiences back to you; consider what support you need in order to heal. Reflect on your reaction and what the work of peace in this place might require of you moving forward. 

The silence we provide one another during Weekly Witness for Peace is a recognition that we are committed to doing the hard work of building peace together. It is an act of solidarity with those who are oppressed and those who seek liberation. But it is a very small piece of a larger whole. We hope you find something in your time here that helps you do the work that is yours to do when you leave this place. We need all of our neighbors to work together for the flourishing of our city.

When Peace Becomes Obnoxious

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
March 18, 1956

King delivered this sermon from Dexter’s pulpit the day before his trial for violating Alabama’s anti-boycott law during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56. Below is an excerpt from his handwritten outline for the sermon:

Peace is not merely the absence of some negative force—war, tensions, confusion—but it is the presence of some positive force—justice, goodwill, the power of the kingdom of God.

I had a long talk the other day with a man about this bus situation. He discussed the peace being destroyed in the community, the destroying of good race relations. I agreed that it is more tension now. But peace is not merely to absence of this tension, but the presence of justice. And even if we didn’t have this tension, we still wouldn’t have positive peace. Yes, it is true that if the Negro accepts his place, accepts exploitation and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be an obnoxious peace. It would be a peace that boiled down to stagnant [complacency], deadening passivity.

If peace means this, I don’t want peace:

  • If peace means accepting second-class citizenship, I don’t want it.
  • If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it.
  • If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace.
  • If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace.

In a passive non-violent manner we must revolt against this peace.

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*cino Work, Education, Event, People, Three Rivers

*cino hosts Weekly Witness for Peace in October and November

“Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.”

– John Lewis, Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

“Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of…justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”

– Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Times of powerful division and anxiety call for powerful expressions of peace and compassionate action. Throughout human history, those committed to the hard work of building peace in community have found hope and strength in simply standing together as one. As a humble expression of peace, each Tuesday in October and the first Tuesday in November, the Huss Project will host a physically-distanced half hour of silence outdoors from 5:00-5:30 p.m.

Participants are welcome to take whatever posture of prayer, meditation, or reverence is most comfortable for them; there is no specific religious affiliation. For those who would like to keep their bodies moving in silence, there will be a couple of short walking paths around the Huss Project property.

Logistics

  • Please park in the main parking lot and visit the blue tent by the main entrance to Huss to check in. Kindly bring a mask to wear at check-in, but feel free to remove masks when physically distanced out on the property during the silence.
  • Silence will be observed outdoors no matter the weather, so please come prepared for the day’s forecast.
  • If you’d like to sit, please bring your own chair or ground covering.
  • A bell will sound to mark the beginning and end of the half hour. If you can only attend a portion of the time, please come!

If your organization would like to be a community partner for this event, please get in touch before September 28. All are welcome to participate in this series of events, in hope and solidarity for a community of flourishing for all.

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People

Welcoming new *cino staff: Brad

As the Summer begins to unoffically wind down and we are transitioning into new projects and landscapes

This week we are proud to introduce you to Brad Armstrong in our final AmeriCorps introduction.

Brad, a native of New Haven, CT  with the traveing heart of a pilgrim decided to work with *cino after searching for over decade for something that felt right.

“The short answer [on joining *cino] is that it’s a great mission driven organization doing work that matters. I’ve been looking for something like this to commit to and do vocationally, that combines community and sustainable practices with mission driven work. Community development is my jam.”

His decision to work with AmeriCorps came on the heels of the Coronavirus pandemic. Brad feels that ” serving others is the only thing that matters in this crazy world, and this is what I want to do personally and professionally” so a year with AmeriCorps felt like a solid choice.

During his year with AmeriCorps, Brad is working hard to complete some personal and professional goals. “I’m using this opportunity to get a Diploma in Permaculture, and I’m in an eco-spirituality/eco-psychology program called Seminary of the Wild. I value relationships, and although I never expected to find myself in Michigan I really like it so far, Three Rivers an amazing community and place, and I’m really excited to explore more of the Great Lakes region while I’m here.”

When not schemeing up ways to save the world, Brad enjoys music, especially DJ electronic dance styles, sustainability, food, cities, and wilderness. Also, he loves nature and outdoor sports like skiing and hiking. And animals, especially dogs.

Stop by this week at the market and say “howdy” to Brad while you are there.

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People

Welcoming new *cino staff: Melody

We are continuing our series of introductions to the newest members of our small but mighty organization here in Three Rivers.

Next up we have Melody Spencer.

Melody, most recently from Charotte, North Carolina, has always had a heart for helping others and a drive to find creative ways to do so. After spending over a decade a professional digital marketer, 2020 found her searching for something new.

“When COVID-19 hit, I suddenly found myself without a job (due to lack of funding in the non-profit sector) and a place to live. I had always had an interest in AmeriCorps positions but the timing for them never felt right. It felt like the Universe suddenly gave me permission to pursue this dream.”

Melody chose to work with *cino because of their focus on community development, creativity and sustainability. She also felt a distinct pull towards a new place (and a new state!) full of a vibrant community in which she could become rooted in.

“After the craziness of the past couple of years, now coupled with the pandemic, I was beyond ready for a fresh, new start. My experience with *cino so far has been a lovely compliment to the personal growth I am currently experiencing in this season of life.”

In the past 2.5 months, Melody has immensly enjoyed getting to know Three Rivers and Western Michigan while spending as much time outside as possible. When she’s not working, Melody enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and working on her personal and professional goals (including yoga and herbalisim certifications).

Be sure to stop by our Saturday Market or our weekly Free Veggie Distribution on Tuesdays and say hello to Melody.

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*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Shaina

This week we are excited to begin introducing you to our three, new full-rime, year long AmeriCorps Vista members.

First up we have Shaina Opperman.

Shaina, a native of South Lyons, MI decided to join AmeriCorps after COVID-19 ended her social research project at the University of Michigan.

“For the past two years since finishing undergrad at MSU, I’ve been doing social research at U-M about people’s perceptions toward the concept of diverting human urine from the waste stream for re-use as fertilizer. That sounds like a highly specific—and perhaps unusual—kind of project, but in a lot of ways I feel it connects naturally to the things I’ll be doing here—building trusting relationships, sharing knowledge, staying accountable to people’s concerns, and co-creating solutions. While I’m serving with AmeriCorps, I’ll have the opportunity to continue working through the kinds of social questions that have been on my mind a lot lately. So as a personal next step I think AmeriCorps just fits.”

Since joining the team, Shaina has been really drawn to the generosity of spirit embodied by everyone in Three Rivers as well as the *cino community’s commitment to creative collaboration. She especially loves how *cino pushes ourselves to self-reflect and let experience and community input guide us toward ways to live together more responsibly. What *cino does has evolved through many different people continuously working on creating stronger community partnerships. She sees the Saturday market as an example of this. “The market works through a lot of people coming together, including our visitors, and it would never exist in exactly the same way if it had been created in a different place or emerged from another group of people. I really enjoy seeing these unique things we create together, so I view my contribution to this team with a lot of gratitude and curious anticipation.”

When she’s not working, Shaina enjoys long walks in nature, keeping the community house cookie jar full to the brim with baked goods, and working her way through her “to-read” list.

We are thrilled to have her with us for the year.

Stop by the market soon and say hi to her and the rest of the *cinocrew.

 

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*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Nikki

This week we are continuing our series of introductions to our Summer Associates, Next up is Nikki.

Nikki Ambs, a Three Rivers local, is no stranger to *cino and The Huss Project. Thanks to her Aunt, Julie Keefer, a prominent member of the *cino community, she learned all about what makes our organization unique years ago. She was drawn to this position because she wants to “help the community through service and make new connections with people.” 

In Nikki’s own words, her passion for joining *cino came from a longing to better understand the community she grew up in. 

“As someone from Three Rivers, I want to get more involved in the community that I am from.  I think it’s important to learn more about where you are from, and through this opportunity I am able to do so!”

Nikki is currently attending Western Michigan University where she studies Graphic Design and music.

We can’t wait to see the insights that Nikki gleans from this Summer at The Huss Project.

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