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

Spend a summer (or a year) in Three Rivers!

Join us for our 10-week summer internship program in Three Rivers, Michigan! We’re looking for folks who are self-motivated and interested in the cross-section of social justice, local food, community, and deep-rooted faith values to join *culture is not optional (*cino) in Three Rivers as we work toward the flourishing of our rural city.

The 2017 summer internship runs from June 1 to August 12. Interns live together in our community house, work alongside our core community on our community development work, and learn together through an embodied curriculum. Interns are expected to contribute an average of 20 hours of work per week for *cino. Interns can also work up to 20 hours per week at local partner farms in the area to earn additional income. Here are the practical benefits of the internship:

  • Housing
  • Living stipend (up to $1,000)
  • Up to $2,000 at partner farms

If you have an interest in farming and gardening, planning special events, communications and promotion, or small business, read more about the intern positions we’re looking to fill this summer. Do you have a different set of skills that you think would benefit *cino and Three Rivers? Apply! Want to know more about what *cino interns actually do? Read reflections from last year’s interns: ChelseaLauren O.Lauren A.Tess, and Aubrey.

If you have have any other questions about the internship, please peruse our Internship FAQ or get in touchApplications are due April 30!

We’re also excited to announce our Yearlong Residency Program! Start as a Summer Intern and then continue as a member of the *cino community until the following summer. This program is a unique opportunity to experience the rhythm of intentional community throughout the year, allowing for deeper engagement with our neighbors and with the work. See our Residency FAQ for more information.

Send us an inquiry if you’re interested in our Yearlong Residency!

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Education, Organization, People, Three Rivers

Join us for our PAID summer internship!

Join us for our 10-week summer internship program in Three Rivers, Michigan! We’re looking for folks who are self-motivated and interested in the cross-section of social justice, local food, community, and deep-rooted faith values to join *culture is not optional (*cino) in Three Rivers as we work toward the flourishing of our rural city.

The 2016 summer internship runs from June 3 to August 14. Interns live together in our community house, work alongside the resident community of the organization on our community development work, and learn together through an embodied curriculum. Interns are expected to contribute an average of 20 hours of work per week for *cino. Interns can also work up to 20 hours per week at local partner farms in the area to earn additional income. Here’s our illustrious benefits package this year:

  • Housing
  • $1,000 living stipend
  • Up to $2,000 at partner farms

If you have an interest in farming and gardening, planning special events, communications and promotion, or small business, read more about the intern positions we’re looking to fill this summer. Do you have a different set of skills that you think would benefit *cino and Three Rivers? Apply! Want to know more about what *cino interns actually do? Read these reflections from former interns NateAlexandraSeth, and Kate.

If you have have any other questions, please peruse our Internship FAQ or get in touchApplications are due April 30!

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Publishing, Three Rivers

New 2015 River Country Local Food & Recycling Guide

Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world.  In this pleasure, we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.

 

Wendell Berry in “The Pleasures of Eating” from Food & Faith

The new 2015 River Country Local Food & Recycling Guide in now available across the county! The Guide is co-published by *culture is not optional and the St. Joseph County Conservation District; it highlights local growers in our region who sell a wide variety of food directly to customers. Our hope is that the Guide can help facilitate a better relationship between eaters and the neighbors who grow our food.

You can find print copies in libraries, city halls, and local businesses in Three Rivers, Vicksburg, Mendon, White Pigeon, and Constantine. You can also find listings and leave reviews for your favorite farms at our Food Guide web site!

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*cino Work, Education, Organization, People

Summer intern application deadline extended to April 30

Are you looking for an amazing summer experience alongside wonderful people in a great rural city? Well look no further! We’d love to have you join us this summer in Three Rivers to help us with our community development work. We grow a market garden, work on renovating an old elementary school to help build a community center, hold a summer festival, run a fair trade store, sell at the local farmers market, make art with neighborhood kids, publish an online magazine, listen and tell stories to know our community better, and more … so there are a lot of great ways to plug in!

We’re extending our application deadline for our summer internship program to April 30, so there’s still time to apply. We’re specifically looking for folks to fill roles in agriculture, business support, promotions/communication, and event coordination, but anyone who is interested in our work should feel free to apply —  we often find creative ways to employ the unique talents of our interns.

Apply online now!

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*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Hospitality, Organization, People, Publishing, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

2014: Year in review

With hearts full of gratitude, we say goodbye to another year and anticipate 2015 with hope and discernment. Please enjoy this review, written by the members of our core community here in Three Rivers.  Thank you for the many ways you’ve supported *culture is not optional in the past year!  Our work is sustained by generous donations of all kinds and we thankfully receive your gifts of time, money, prayer and encouragement.  Please be in touch about how you’d like to be involved in the coming year, and if you’d like to make a financial contribution, you can do so here.  Peace be with you in the coming year!


COMMUNITY: Volunteer partners come and go, while friendships remain

by Jay Howard

The Rectory, *cino’s community house, was full of good food and laughter in 2014. Jay, Liesje and Deborah endured an exceptionally snowy, cold winter, looking forward to summer when four amazing interns joined the household: Seth, Alexandra, Kate and Nate. They were a wonderful addition to our group, bringing many gifts to the work of a prosperous community garden, exciting and creative Community Fun Nights, a glowing Future Festival and lovely Friday night potlucks. In addition, we hosted visitors from Project Neighborhood, a Calvin College spring break group and a service group from Palmerston, Ontario, who all helped out at the Huss Project and explored the Three Rivers community.  Now as we make our way toward the end of the year, the Rectory will be losing one its inhabitants as Jay is heads to Grand Rapids to pursue new adventures.  Deborah and Liesje, along with Rob, Kirstin, Julie and David, continue to gather regularly as a core group, sharing and discerning the focus of our work for the coming year.

 

SHARING: Telling tales and tasting treats

by David Stewart

Preparing and eating food and telling stories has become central to what *cino does. This year we hosted Underground Supper Clubs on monastery grounds at St. Gregory’s Abbey and in the heart of downtown Three Rivers in one of the beautiful storefronts along Main Street. We told stories about our origins, local haunts, our favorite books, and about our love of food during storytelling events at the Huss Project. We want everyone to experience these sacred acts as fully as we do, something that has become clearer to us over the past year. There are stories in food, and stories in turn are food for the soul. It is our hope in 2015 to make more stories and to find more amazing ways to serve excellent food to the people who love it.

 

PLAY: Growing friendships with our neighbors at Huss

by Liesje Brouwer

Once again in 2014, Huss served as a site for a summer lunch program in partnership with Three Rivers Community Schools. School-aged kids in our neighborhood enjoyed over 700 lunches throughout the summer, gathered around the new picnic tables we built in June. In addition, the Huss Project hosted weekly Community Fun Nights where friends of *cino gathered for baked goods, garden goodies, games and crafts. 40-60 kids, parents and other neighbors attended each week—more than ever before! *cino invested in flag football gear, which was put to good use every week as we worked together with our young neighbors on building respectful relationships. We cranked up our jammin’ play list and ran around with kids and had conversations with adults and basked in the sun and learned a little bit more about one another. On the final fun night, all the kids gathered around and held a string attached to a homemade piñata, then collectively pulled their strings to break it open. The most popular piñata find: bouncy balls! Community Fun Night and summer lunches help us to stay connected to the neighborhood, and our neighbors. A big thank you to everyone who participated!

 

CELEBRATION: Creative connectivity at Huss Future Festival

by Julie Keefer

The fifth annual Huss Future Fest on July 19 was a day full of activities that brought in over 600 visitors, community partners and volunteers — that’s nearly double the attendance in 2013 and it’s encouraging to see the festival grow as a fun, creative and safe place for neighbors to gather.  Future Fest is the pinnacle of our summer for *cino staff, interns and volunteers who put in countless hours full of blood, sweat and, yes, even sometimes tears to clean, plan, paint, fold, mow, imagine, and clean some more. A highlight this year was partnering with TRAFC (Three Rivers Area Faith Community) to host their annual Back-to-School Celebration.  We saw lots of families coming to the festival to join in the fun and get backpacks full of school supplies. In addition, volunteers from the Huss Project’s community garden sold quinoa salad and grilled veggies and brats, while the locally-famous Weenie King added his hotdog stand to our food options.  This year we hosted our second Coin Carnival partnering with local organizations: Three Rivers Public Library, Red Cross, Save the Frogs, River Country Resilience Circle, Congo Cloth Connection/Florence Church, St. Joseph County Department of Human Services, Pregnancy Helpline, St. Joseph County ISD/Great Start, Animal Rescue Fund and Flowerfield Enterprises.  Many local farmers also donated generous amounts of produce for our mini farmers market: Triple Ripple Community Garden, White Yarrow Farm, Bair Lane Farm, Corey Lake Orchard and Butternut Sustainable Farm.  Dozens of volunteers also helped coordinate many activities for kids, a rummage sale, art vendors, workshops, art installations, a bake sale and live music.  It was a joy to witness such incredible collaboration, which is a primary value we hope to cultivate at the Huss property.  At the end of the festival, our *cino community, friends and festival attendees took the opportunity to celebrate in gratitude for the Huss Project’s fifth anniversary with a five-song dance party!

 

FLAVOR: Sharing fresh, local food with our community

by Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Working alongside our neighbors, we continued to produce food at the Huss Project this year in our wild and wooly community garden. In June, we hosted a compost tea workshop where several of us learned how to create organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer for our gardens. Even as we struggled with a streak of vandalism, we distributed the garden produce to individuals and families in need through several agencies in our county. Beyond just our own garden, *cino helped publish a local food and recycling guide for our region.  We also partnered with several local farms this summer to sell their produce alongside our own at the Three Rivers Farmers Market. After the market closed for the season, we gathered additional farm partners and opened the Downtown Harvest Market in a downtown storefront on Saturdays in September and October. Through these efforts, we shared and sold fresh, local food to a wide variety of people in our community, raising over $3,300 for continued food production at the Huss Project in the future.

 

REFLECTION: Pausing to consider with catapult and the daily asterisk

by Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

The question has come up with increasing frequency: what happened to catapult?  With many changes in the lives of *cino community members over the past year, 2014 seemed like a good time to pause for a little while and re-imagine the function, look and structure of this longstanding online publication.  We initiated a survey that gleaned rich feedback from both new and veteran readers and contributors and we look forward to digging into those ideas in 2015 to see what seeds show promise of germination in the spring.  In the meantime, the daily asterisk has continued to be a provocative resource, drawing from many voices past and present, who speak insightfully to the pressing issues of our time with celebration and lament, encouragement and repentance, joy and critique.  If you’re not receiving the daily asterisk already, you can sign up for the e-mail list here and dig into the archives here.

 

CONVERSATION: Discussing our core values, our community, and our future

by Deborah Haak

For all of the hustle and bustle of the year, the *cino staff also made concerted efforts to sit, read, discuss, and dream. We gathered each week over the summer with interns to explore *cino’s core values, and that conversation has continued this fall and winter with a discussion of Peter Block’s book Community: The Structure of Belonging. At the staff retreat this fall, we reflected on 2014, discussing *cino’s successes and shortcomings, evaluating roles and duties in light of staffing changes, and brainstorming where to focus our energy in 2015 and beyond — all while sharing delicious food and enjoying each others’ company!

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Education, People, Three Rivers

The value of ridiculous joy

We scheduled our Garden of Your Mind conversation on our ridiculous joy core value (“Be joyful though you have considered all the facts”) for the week of Future Festival intentionally. At the time we were planning the summer, it seemed like a great idea to experience this value by taking a break for ice cream in the middle of our busiest week of the summer. But during Future Festival week, when it came time to head out to Sand Lake Party Store to indulge in their insanely sized ice cream cones, it didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. We were incredibly busy with last minute details and we were stressed out in various ways about all that needed to be completed by week’s end. Taking time off for ice cream seemed like the last thing we ought to be doing.

And then … we did go out for ice cream and we had a great time and it was exactly what we all needed. In the grand scheme of things, this is a terribly flippant example of what Wendell Berry speaks of in his “Mad Farmer Liberation Front” poem; however, if we don’t practice ridiculous joy in small things, we’ll never be prepared to do so when we desperately need joy in the middle of far more difficult experiences.

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