*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Organization

Accepting applications for FOUR AmeriCorps summer positions

*culture is not optional (*cino)/The Huss Project is looking for four compassionate, creative, hard-working people to join us full-time for 10 weeks this summer as Americorps VISTA Summer Associates! Applicants should be 18 years of age or older, with a passion for serving our Three Rivers community through urban farming, event planning, and youth engagement. The term runs from June 1 – August 9, with a living stipend of $2,395.40 and choice at the end of the term of an education award of $1,311 or a cash stipend of $345. Housing is not available for Summer Associates. Applications are being accepted until May 1 or until all four positions or filled, so apply today through the AmeriCorps web site!

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*cino Work, Leadership, Organization, People

NEW! Huss Project Resident Caretaker Position

A big piece of the future vision for the Huss Project is to have living space for a residential community. Though this goal is still a long way off, we’re very excited to announce a new resident caretaker position.

The caretaker (or caretakers) will live in a sweet, small house just to the south of the Huss property in exchange for taking responsibility for a variety of everyday tasks around the property throughout the year. Based on skills and interests, there’s also an opportunity to take on additional roles with our urban farm and/or the Imaginarium event space.

Visit our position description page for more information about the position and details on how to apply. Applications are due by March 15, 2020. We are very much looking forward to growing our intentional community in this new way and hope you’ll help us spread the word!

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*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Leadership, Organization, People, Three Rivers

Apply now for our 2020-21 full-year AmeriCorps VISTA positions!

We are now accepting applications for three full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions. We’re looking for folks who will help us take our work to the next level in the areas of food systems, education, and economic development through the Huss Project, World Fare, and other partners in Three Rivers.

Experience with activities like social research, community development, event planning, education, program development, volunteer coordination, permaculture design, food systems, non-profits … these are the types of things we’re looking for in people who will thrive collaborating at a high level with a grassroots org in a funky, small, Midwest city. We’re looking for people with solid enough experience to function as peer collaborators in creative design toward significant community outcomes, in a spirit of curiosity, joy, and accountability. Here are four words that are floating around for us at the moment as we search:

  • Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Detail-orientation

Visit our listing on the AmeriCorps site to submit your application. Applications are open until April 1, but we’re looking to fill these positions as soon as possible to allow our VISTAs to plan for a May 11 start date. The compensation package includes:

  • A living allowance (just over $12,000/year)
  • An educational award (or end-of-service stipend)
  • Health insurance
  • Reduced-cost housing ($250/mo. including utilities)
  • Other benefits

Thank you for your help in spreading the word and please let us know if you have any questions! We’re really looking forward to this next phase of our community’s work in Three Rivers.

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Education, Event, Leadership, People, Three Rivers

*cino co-hosting Martin Luther King Jr. event in Three Rivers

*culture is not optional, in its role as a participating member of the Three Rivers Area Faith Community (TRAFC), is co-hosting a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 20. Join us at 5:00 at Three Rivers City Hall for a commemorative march from City Hall to First Presbyterian Church of Three Rivers (shuttles will be available if you’d like to park at the church first). We’ll then enjoy a potluck meal together at 5:30 before gathering to honor the work of Dr. King at 6:30.

This year’s celebration will feature Pastor Barbara Brown from Grant Chapel, local poets from the First Thursdays Open Mic at Lowry’s Books, the Brandenburg Concert, New Jerusalem praise band, DJ Mitchie Moore, and the Ambassadors for Christ Praise Dancers. A free will offering will support TRAFC’s annual Back to School Celebration at the Huss Future Festival, which supplies free school supplies and bags to area children.

Thank you to all of the participating TRAFC churches and organizations (see below) for making this event possible!

The City of Three Rivers is also hosting a Community Participation Event earlier in the day. Citizens can help guide decisions and strategies for the future of Three Rivers by participating in this interactive gathering to provide feedback and share your thoughts on topics including downtown development, recreation, housing, local aesthetics, and overall city growth.

The work of Dr. King is not finished and his words and actions still resonate strongly more than 50 years after his assassination. Our *cino staff has a tradition of re-reading “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” every year to remember the radical witness of Dr. King, but digging deeper into his speeches and writings is always challenging and rewarding. In his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence (April 4, 1967),” Dr. King speaks as though he is speaking directly into our current situation:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

If you’re looking for a great collection of Dr. King’s work to dig into, we highly recommend A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. And, of course, it is always worth hearing Dr. King’s own voice, which you can do by searching YouTube for various speeches and interviews. Here’s a great place to start:

TRAFC Participants

  • Ambassadors for Christ Church
  • Bridges Community Church
  • Center Park United Methodist Church
  • *culture is not optional
  • First Presbyterian Church of Three Rivers
  • First United Methodist Church Three Rivers
  • New Jerusalem Baptist Church
  • St. John’s Lutheran Church
  • Trinity Episcopal Church
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*cino Work, Event, Organization, People

Accepting applications for three AmeriCorps summer positions

*culture is not optional (*cino)/The Huss Project is looking for three compassionate, creative, hard-working people to join us full-time for 10 weeks this summer as Americorps VISTA Summer Associates! Applicants should be 18 years of age or older, with a passion for serving our Three Rivers community through urban farming, event planning, and youth engagement. The term runs from June 3 – August 11, with a living stipend of $2,361.10 and choice at the end of the term of an education award of $1,289.95 or a cash stipend of $346.80. Housing is not available for Summer Associates. Applications are being accepted until noon on May 13 or until all three positions or filled, so apply today through the AmeriCorps web site!

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Building, Fundraising, People, Three Rivers

Crowdfunding campaign launched for the Huss Project Imaginarium

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

Three Rivers will soon be home to a whimsical year-round public space that will transform part of the historic Huss School into the Huss Project Imaginariumthrough a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation andnonprofit *culture is not optional (*cino) announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by December 15, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit: patronicity.com/hussproject. *cino will be hosting a kick-off event at the Huss Project on Thursday, November 1, from 5:00 to 7:00pm with presentations and tours at 5:30pm and 6:30pm.

“The Huss Project Imaginarium is a creative take on a community space,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “The varied uses and beautiful design of the space are what makes it welcoming and unique. We are pleased to provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The campaign will complete the redevelopment of the original library and kindergarten room of the historic building, transforming them into a multi-use indoor courtyard and meeting space. When completed, thetwo-story space will featurefloor-to-ceiling bookshelves on both levels,seating and tables, refinished 100-year-old wood floors, upgraded bathrooms,an upgraded and expanded kitchenette,energy-efficient windows styled after the original 1919 windows, high-efficiency HVAC system, and an outdoor front porch pavilion constructed from reclaimed barn wood.

Once it’s up and running year-round, the Imaginarium will support the Huss Project’s existing programming and allow them to expand from summer lunches to community events, after-school programs, potlucks, and more. The Imaginarium will also be available to other community organizations for their programming, dramatically transforming this under-utilized space in an underserved neighborhood into a vital community asset.

“Our organization has had success using crowdfunding before, so we were excited when Patronicity announced its partnership with MEDC for the Public Spaces Community Places program. We’ve been waiting for the right project to come along that would allow us to utilize this collaboration to turn a corner at the Huss Project and the Imaginarium is perfect,” said Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, Executive Director of *culture is not optional. “The matching grant from MEDC will allow us to complete a beautiful, whimsical, year-round public space that will build our city’s capacity for friendship and imagination.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at https://patronicity.com/puremichigan.

“Inviting public spaces are key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The distinct character of the Huss Project Imaginarium will make it a go-to destination for residents and visitors alike.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of October 2018, MEDC has provided $5,559,166 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 182 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with nearly $6.6 million raised from 33,069 individual donors.

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*cino Work, Education, People

Living intentionally: Danielle Rendulic’s reflection

As is tradition at *cino, we asked each of our 2017 summer interns to share a reflection on their time in Three Rivers. Below is Danielle’s reflection; above: Danielle organizing books in our rummage sale for Future Fest.


Danielle Rendulic

A time to plant and a time to uproot

I first heard about *cino at a time when I was contemplating how it would be possible for me to live the way I had dreamed of living. Rob and Kirstin came to speak at a class I was in and I thought to myself, “that’s it, that how I want to be living.” It started because I wanted to evaluate what I had done with my life and where I saw myself going. Up to that point, I was riding mostly on track with the the typical road laid out for your average 21-year-old. I had just finished my first semester as a junior in college, had a part time job, and was looking into the career paths my major would undoubtedly hurl me towards. I was living in complete accordance with the mundane and standard, and no part of me wanted to be there. Thus, my resolution was to start living with intent; find the things I wanted to do, and do them. My summer in Three Rivers working with *cino taught me the craft of intentional living; how to eat, play, work, and speak as if we if we actually meant to.

At the beginning of the summer we planted. Digging holes in the ground to place new seeds, eventually to become our sauce, roasted roots, and spiced everything. Each Friday night at the Rectory, we could expect to see *cino friends and neighbors gathered together to share stores and food creations, usually along some unspoken theme of whatever had been harvested that week. There is something about knowing the soil, from planting to watching the dirt run off your hands in the sink that connects you to your plate. During this internship, I spent a long time becoming connected to my plate. I prepared food with my roommates over long ambitious worldview conversations, road my bike to the Huss Project to snip herbs for our meal, and cooked with the knowledge that our food would soon be bringing people to our table. With *cino, I learned how to love my plate, the food that was on it, and the people that were around the table with me.

Growing up, having people over for dinner was rare. In fact having a dinner with my whole family was rare. In my pursuit of intentional living, I wanted to be in a place where it was common to know the faces walking on the street. In Three Rivers, people do. Not just because it’s a small town, but because the community is deeply rooted through generations of interconnected stories of this place. Working at Huss, I would meet neighbors frequently who would stroll up to the building and say, “You know, I actually went to Huss.” They were excited to explain their past and, for many of them, share why Huss is the reason they stayed in Three Rivers. In the months I stayed here, I learned what it was like to be late because you were stopped on the street by someone who wanted to say hello. I’ve always wanted to live in a place like that, and in Three Rivers it took less than two months to get there.

I started out in this internship thinking that the people in *cino were actively living the way I had dreamed of and I wasn’t wrong. I have had so many conversations about the way we ought to live and work and being here was like getting first hand experience into that life. For all of my three months here, I lived the way I had fantastically imagined only to be possible in a very distant future. I planted food that would feed our neighbors, started intentional conversations, shared stories, and purposely explored avenues of art and culture. At *cino I learned how to work, eat, and play as if I had intentionally meant to do so.

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*cino Work, Education, People

Becoming rooted: Mariana Perez’ reflection

As is tradition at *cino, we asked each of our 2017 summer interns to share a reflection on their time in Three Rivers. Below is Mariana’s reflection; above: Mariana working the coffee shop at Huss Future Festival.


Mariana Perez

A time to plant and a time to uproot

My time at *cino has come to an end. On Sunday (August 13), I will travel back to my other homes in Grand Rapids and Wisconsin with a familiarity I greatly cherish.

This summer has been a unique 10 weeks for me. I graduated from college in May, and I will start my job as a nurse in October. I did my best to keep my mind from wondering into the future of October—I didn’t want to be preoccupied with the excitement and anxiety and whirlwind of starting, officially, the post-grad life. I also did my best to keep my mind from lingering into the past—it was, is, bittersweet to remember my old house, my housemates, my neighbors, the familiar sounds outside my window that would lull me to sleep.

I wanted this summer to root me to the past and to orient me to the future. Over the past four years, there are values and things (that aren’t actually things) that have become especially important to me: community, faithfulness, sustainability, kindness, hospitality, inclusiveness, family, friends. I was kind of scared that I would lose sight of, or forget, those values moving into this new phase of life, that I wouldn’t be surrounded by (or that I would stray from, and/or that I wouldn’t seek) a community that would foster those values. As I’ve ashamedly sang many mornings in church, “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.” Well, after this summer, after being in this place and being surrounded by the people I’ve been surrounded by, I’m less afraid of straying. I’ve become rooted enough, for now.

As for the oriented-to-the-future thing, well, I think I’ve come to a satisfying place with that, too. I think that I am sufficiently armed with the weapons I need to combat and not fall into the false ideas of what it means to live the good life. I’m still a pacifist; it’s just that it feels like a battle sometimes.

I’ve enjoyed my time in Three Rivers—strawberry milkshakes; the backroad to Huss; black cherry tomatoes; floating down the St. Joseph river; Thursday Farmers Market; blueberries; the light of the setting sun, eerie and beautiful, over the garden. I imagine that when I return to visit Three Rivers, I’ll return with a familiarity similar to the one I leave with.

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*cino Work, Education, People

Engaging community: Jerry Moreland’s reflection

As is tradition at *cino, we asked each of our 2017 summer interns to share a reflection on their time in Three Rivers. Below is Jerry’s reflection; above: Jerry at one of our storytelling events at the Huss Project.


Jerry Moreland

I am a student at Olivet Nazarene University studying criminal justice. It would seem unorthodox or untraditional for a criminal justice major to be involved in an internship with *cino. The reason why *cino grabbed my attention is because of the community engagement driven focus that this organization has. I want to strengthen my social and community engagement skills and this internship truly did just that.

Summer lunches brought kids together from 11:30am to 12:30pm for lunch every weekday. I was only able to staff this once a week, but it was the highlight of my week. It was a blessing to even have a brief moment to hang out with the kids of Three Rivers. I wish I had more time to invest in them. Pam, the staff person from the school district, invests hours of her day to prepare the meals and to provide them. I want to do something like this or spark this in the community that I have the blessing to serve.

*cino’s weekly potluck creates an intentional community of sharing. Each person brings something to the table. This is probably the part of the week that most people look forward to; to end the week with people who in time almost become a family to share a meal is amazing.

Seeing the yield and growth of Project Farm and the hard work that was done was truly empowering—urban farming is possible and with community support it can flourish. Working alongside community members is something I want to do as a police officer. It would be awesome to be a part of a community garden with the image of a cop. I believe that being seen as normal and equal it can create relationships between law enforcement and the community they serve.

Huss Future Fest probably impacted me the most. We as a group put a lot of time and stress into putting together the event. What gave this event such beauty was not our effort but the volunteers and community that came together. This event would not have been possible without them.

I have a lot of respect for Rob and Kirstin and that they started the spark that is now the Huss Project and *cino. If I can be or do anything like that which *cino has started and implement that with the role of law enforcement then that is the first few steps of impacting the field of law enforcement in a positive way.

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*cino Work, Education, People

Overflowing with gratitude: Annelie Haberman’s reflection

As is tradition at *cino, we asked each of our 2017 summer interns to share a reflection on their time in Three Rivers. Below is Annelie’s reflection; above: Annelie with a praying mantis she found while harvesting potatoes at Project Farm.


Annelie Haberman

The joy of sharing stories, questions, good food, and lots of weeding

During my past three years of college life, my heart has been full of many dreams and ponderings, tingling inclinations of radically different ways to live life that I’ve longed to explore but never felt the right opportunity to delve deeply into. Also my hasty pace of college life, although a very rich time of learning, has filled me with insightful words and theories untested outside of the intellectual bubble of the classroom. I was longing for the opportunity where conversations about what the good life looks in vocation, lifestyle choices, religion, farming, politics etc. transformed from words into a passionate experiment of life lived out with deep conviction in the messy chaos of life. On top of all that I also really wanted to spend a summer farming, a summer outside just growing things to see what it was like to live close to the earth and close to the people I’d work and learn with.

Becoming a part of the *cino community this summer has been exactly this kind of opportunity and so much more. What I found in this place was the interweaving of hearts intentionally pursuing a truer, richer vision of life through everyday rhythms like sharing food together as well as through adventurously grand tasks like turning a hundred year old school into a community center and urban farm. What I especially enjoyed in this summer was not only getting to be in a space where things like lettuce sprouts and selling heads of kohlrabi at the farmers market were joyful occasions, but also being in a community where the practices of work, joy, searching, thoughtful conversation, laughter, and imagination were all being explored with a dedicated patience that is uncommon to find in the rush of this world.

Through all my experiences this summer—like working in the dirt every day, helping create and put on the Huss Future Festival, and sharing incredible food together every Friday night—I got to ponder and experiment with so many questions. What does joy look like when we’re covered in sweat and dirt? What does empathy look like when we have a difficult conversation ahead of us? What does experiential learning look like when the tomato plants aren’t doing well? What does honesty look like when we tell stories together? What does community look like when we want to celebrate together, share our gifts, or eat spaghetti together? What does thriving look like in the small everyday diversity, the ocean of moments of waves rising and falling, each moment different, each moment integral to our growth, moment by moment, stitch by stitch learning in every weave, tangle, and coming together of the colors of life. I have learned from being around such thoughtful minds to always be asking questions, pondering, and imagining in a deeper way and to relish the feast of learning that this brings.

I have also learned the bliss and deep-seated joy of getting to do work that I am so fully in love with and to do this beautiful work of farming, storytelling, and community growing with people who are filled with the passion for their work and the commitment to constantly learning how our work and passion can grow its roots into the many roots and stories of the community of Three Rivers.

This summer I have gotten to weed so much that dirt has creased itself deep into my hands. I’ve learned the touch and texture of the leaves, stems, and roots of all our plants so much so that our tomatoes have turned my hands green, then black from constant work with these free spirited vines. I’ve gotten to imagine art differently and create with unrestrained playfulness in planning the art tent for Future Fest. And most of all, I’ve gotten to do all these things with new friends who have become some of the dearest and most incredible people in my life because of the endless flow of laughter, honesty, and insight that we have shared with each other. I’ve been given the space and time (two tremendous gifts) to grow with such wonderful people, our four person summer house crew of diverse stories with a shared curiosity for how to live life intentionally together, the *cino community so full of encouragement, innovation, and joyful grit, and all the people of Three Rivers who I’ve gotten to learn from and share stories with this summer.

I can’t imagine a more impactful summer than this and I’m overflowing with gratitude for all the vision and determination it has taken to make this internship possible for us this summer. Thank you *cino friends, Rectory mates, and Three Rivers community for helping me learn a more beautiful way to weave my story into the community of stories that all join together in the great river of life.

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