*cino Work, Leadership, Online, People, Three Rivers

Farewell, Ale!

Ale, taking photos at last year’s Future Festival.

This month, we said farewell to two community members who finished their year-long AmeriCorps positions. We weren’t able to hug them goodbye, but we sent them off with heartfelt messages, food dropped off for a special dinner, and even a dance party via Zoom! Alejandra Crevier (or Ale) contributed her writing skills and thoughtful input to *culture is not optional’s and the Huss Project’s online presence as well as a Community Asset Mapping project, and pitched in wholeheartedly with numerous other tasks. She shared a reflection on her time here and what the future holds:

I’ve really enjoyed the rhythms of small town life with folks at *cino—growing vegetables, making dinners, and going to poetry nights together. My time here has really allowed me to focus on issues I care about in concrete ways such as community living and sustainability; those opportunities are a privilege and a gift. I now have a much better understanding of local agriculture and community resources and the direct impact they have on areas such as Three Rivers.

 I’ve also seen how *cino is well-positioned to confront systemic issues like racism and classism that exist in the Three Rivers area due to the respect, connections and resources we possess. White power, privilege and supremacy have to be confronted directly, and it’s been difficult at times navigating with the community here the best approaches to what that directness looks like. The work we have done in the last part of the year will hopefully build upon and make manifest *cino’s desire for equity in all aspects of its organization, community, and broader influence.

I’m thankful for the people I have met and have come to know well. I feel more equipped to personally confront daily tasks with the lessons I have learned from community living, particularly the value of supportive friends during this pandemic. What has been cultivated in Three Rivers I will certainly carry into the future. Given the reality of the pandemic, I hope to do direct action work with mutual aid networks in Grand Rapids, MI. I’m trying at the same time to remain flexible.

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*cino Work, Hospitality, Leadership, People

Growing our community safely in a pandemic

In mid-March, as Michigan pulled together and hunkered down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, our *cino crew was watching and waiting to see how our plans to welcome new people into our community this spring might change. We had a couple from Vermont planning to move into our new caretaker’s house, and we anticipated hiring seven new AmeriCorps partners—three year-long VISTAs and four summer associates—with several of these folks moving into our community house. With everything changing so fast and a growing awareness that the situation would continue for many months, we had no idea what to expect.

We continued our recruiting and hiring processes and eventually, AmeriCorps confirmed our May 11 start date for our new VISTAs. We were super excited about the three folks who agreed to join us, but how could we form a new household safely? And what would we do about the summer folks starting June 1?

So we started gathering the best, most reliable information we could and came up with a plan that we feel very good about. Because we’re a very visible group of people and because we want to maintain a sense of transparency and accountability with our broader Three Rivers community, we want to lay out some of the details of our plan.

  • As of March 16, all members of *cino’s four community households began practicing self-isolation, with distancing and other safety practices for any essential trips outside the house.
  • Thanks to adaptations allowed by AmeriCorps, our *cino staff began working remotely and our weekly community meetings shifted to video. We pivoted our work to support the acute needs of our local community with resources like emergency assistance information and free vegetable seeds.
  • When Dan and Margaret traveled from Vermont and moved into the Huss Caretaker’s House in mid-April, we welcomed them from a distance with a housewarming gift and video gatherings, while they spent their first two weeks here in self-isolation.
  • Our May 8 going-away party for two of our community house residents was a multi-faceted, creatively-distanced affair, with ways to participate by mail, text, e-mail, drive/walk/bike-by, and video. (We heard from several folks that it was the best going-away party they’d ever “attended,” so those of us who are trying to figure out how to do grad parties, showers, and so on this spring and summer: it is possible!).
  • New AmeriCorps VISTAs moving into the community house on May 9 self-isolated for two weeks prior to moving into the house.
  • As of May 9, the *cino community house at 208 N. Main Street started a “reset,” with the new group of residents self-isolating together for two weeks to establish a new primary household. During this two weeks, we’re conducting an orientation program through video and outdoor, physically-distanced points of connection.
  • For the foreseeable future, any new residents of the community house will self-isolate for two weeks before joining the household.
  • Our summer work is shifting almost entirely to fresh food production and distribution, so labor will be outdoors as much as possible with collectively designed safety practices based on the relationships among the individuals working together.
  • We’re working on a visual model that will help us all understand how we relate to one another practically and emotionally to support one another’s physical health, as well as the health of our relationships.

So why are we sharing all of this? Well, one of the challenges of this time is managing our feelings of anxiety, fear, and judgment, no matter our opinion of the pandemic response. We see a group of people gathered outside a house, clearly not residents of the same household: are they blowing off the rules? We see someone wearing a mask driving alone in their car: are they just trying shame me for not wearing a mask on my walk? In a time of such remarkable instability and uncertainty, judgment is a natural impulse, but we can practice giving the benefit of the doubt, asking genuine questions, and offering transparency.

We want our neighbors to know without a doubt: our *cino community is taking this thing seriously in the interest of supporting the health of our vulnerable family members, the essential workers with whom we come into contact, our partners at the Huss Project, our local healthcare workers—all our neighbors! When you see us out and about in our neighborhoods, working at the farm, staffing our new Saturday market at the Huss Project, we want you to know we’re taking good care for you, for ourselves, and for all of us.

Even though we’re tired of it already…

Even though the degree of risk is low…

Even though we’d love to hug our friend who’s moving across the country after two years here…

Even though we’d much rather get back to normal and throw a big party…

We will continue to practice intentional safety measures as long as we need to for the sake of public health and the common good.

If anyone ever wonders where we stand and what we’re doing to be safe together, please don’t hesitate to ask. This is going to be a long haul, friends, and we’ll get through it best with shared information, grace, transparency, and mutual respect.

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

Three opportunities to join our work and community!

The past year has been a time of incredible growth for our organization, and we are thrilled to be recruiting folks to join us in our work here in Three Rivers, with three different levels of commitment. Whether for ten weeks this coming summer or for an open-ended period of time, folks will join the work of a friendly, passionate community of people collaborating for flourishing in our small, beloved, rural city. Read on for a quick snapshot of each type of position, and please help us spread the word!

 

Ten weeks: AmeriCorps Summer Associate (4 positions)

• Application deadline: May 1, 2020

• Dates of service: June 1 – August 9, 2020

• Summary of work: Educational programming and physical labor in support of Huss Future Fest (July 25), the Imaginarium, and Huss Project Farm

• Weekly commitment: 36 hours

• Compensation: Living allowance of ~$2,350, plus an educational award of $1,311

• Further details

• Apply here!

 

One year: AmeriCorps VISTA (3 positions)

• Application deadline: April 1, 2020

• Dates of service: May 11, 2020 – May 10, 2021

• Summary of work: Building organizational capacity through research, program development/evaluation, resource-building, and communications

• Weekly commitment: 40 hours

• Compensation: Living allowance of just over $12,000, plus educational award, health insurance, and optional reduced-cost housing ($250/mo.)

• Further details

• Apply here!

 

One year and beyond: Huss Resident Caretaker

• Application deadline: March 15, 2020

• Dates of service: Move in by May 1, 2020

• Summary of work: Building and seasonal outdoor maintenance at *cino properties, plus hospitality and community-building with Huss neighbors

• Weekly commitment: 15 hours (with optional paid additions)

• Compensation: Housing and utilities

• Further details

• Apply here!

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*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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*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Fundraising, Hospitality, Leadership, People, Rectory Stories, SUSTAIN *cino

Summer snapshots at a glance

May 11 – *culture is not optional finishes up remodeling of 208 with the help of Florence Church members and other volunteers.

May 25 – Ale and Annelie begin AmeriCorps VISTA training. *cino is working to partner with AmeriCorps over the next three years to better build capacity for the organization as a whole. A few weeks later, the summer associates join for ten weeks.

June 10 – Summer lunches begin. The Huss Project has partnered seven summers so far with the Three Rivers Public Schools through their lunch program, Meet Up and Eat Up.

June 13 – The Huss Project joins the Three Rivers Water Fest Parade for to promote our work. This event gave AmeriCorps VISTA members a feel of the neighborhood and chance to meet the neighbors.

June 14 – *cino convenes with Camp Tavor over dinner at the camp. This year, Camp Tavor counselors stayed on rotation at 208 each week night.

June 15 – Summer work days begin at The Huss Project. For six weeks, we worked with volunteers from the neighborhood in preparation for Huss Future Festival and several other projects including the renovation of the Imaginarium and the pavilion.

June 20 –The Huss Project has its first Farmer’s Market of the season. Snap peas, strawberries and smiles!

June 21 –Malachi Carter comes all the way from Indianapolis to teach a photography class for kids at summer lunches. We had 12 kids participate and learn grow their visual art skills through practicing photography.

July 2 – Camp Tavor kids come out to volunteer with us at The Huss Project Gardens for Tikkun Olam. We had over 20 volunteers from the camp help weed the garden and plant tree saplings.

July 15 – Aundrea Syrie and Great Dane teach a creative workshop for kids in the neighborhood so that they can develop their love for words. We had 5 kids participate and stretch their confidence in making art with words.

July 23 – Anna teaches summer lunch kids the magic of compost. We had 8 kids participate and gain knowledge about the cycles of food from the soil to our plates and back into dirt through compost.

July 25 –In thanks to all of those who participated in the Big Steps Campaign, *cino hosts a soiree at the renovated Imaginarium.

July 27 – HUSS FUTURE FESTIVAL 2019 ARRIVES. We raised over $7,000 dollars with the help of volunteers and community members. Over 1,000 people from the community came to the festival to make art, get free school supplies for kids, eat delicious food, listen to local musicians perform, and connect with over 15 community resource organizations in our

July 30 – Tikkun Olam round two!

August 8 – Our summer associates’ last day on the job.

August 9 – Storytelling night commences with our wonderful host, Emily, prompting us to wonder about inheritance and legacy.

August 24 – Longtime community members, Alek and Deborah celebrate their love at the Imaginarium. First wedding ever hosted at Huss!

To summarize:

– At Huss Future Festival, we raised over $7,000 dollars this summer in support of the Huss Project.

– We built the pavilion and the Imaginarum.

– Our partnership with AmeriCorps began in efforts to keep this organization sustainable and joy-filled.

– We produced and distributed 2,353 pounds of vegetables this summer to the local food bank and the Three Rivers Farmers Market.

– Summer lunches were a success as we served and enjoyed food with a total of 1,454 children.

-*cino’s 100 Friends of Huss Campaign, launched this summer, partnering with long-term, dedicated lovers of food, art and play.

– Over 74 volunteers dedicated a total of 1,104 hours to Saturday Work Day projects, Summer Lunches, special education events, The Huss Project Farm, the Imaginarium and The Huss Future Festival.

Many thanks to our volunteers for contributing the time, financial support, gifts and love. This summer was filled with so much business, and your presence made all of the difference.

 

 

 

 

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*cino Work, Building, Leadership, People

Welcoming new *cino staff: Jacob

A late post and goodbye to our dear summer associate, Jacob Miller. Jacob is one of three staff who have completed an AmeriCorps service this summer.

Jacob has lived many years in Centreville, a few miles away from Three Rivers. He worked with Kirstin and Ale on our storytelling work and research of Huss School. Among his many talents, Jacob is a professional insect watcher, talented musician, and quote quipper.  In a few days, he’ll be heading to University of Michigan for his first year of college. We’ll really miss his insightful knowledge of butterflies and goofy humor at The Huss Project.

Thanks again to all of our summer associates for your tremendous work at The Huss Project and Future Fest 2019! We’ll really miss you.

 

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*cino Work, Hospitality, Leadership, People, Uncategorized

Welcoming new *cino staff: Ale Crevier

We’re glad to have Ale onboard with us this year at The Huss Project! Ale recently graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids with degrees in Literature and Linguistics, and is currently putting her love for writing to use at *culture is not optional with the storytelling team.

Ale grew up in the big city of Chicago with a big family of eight. Known as the “circus” to some, her family has fostered much of the craziness, joy and growth in her life. She and neighborhood friends would constantly be hanging out at the house in the summer, telling stories, building forts and playing frisbee. That the doors were always unlocked communicated a simple, but important message, (aside from a reminder to find the lost key) : belonging belongs in and outside of our homes and ourselves – with community. Hospitality isn’t really a choice we give ourselves, but an opportunity that lives in us and is required of us.

*culture is not optional’s commitment to hospitality – grounded in a vision toward play, food and art – was one aspect that attracted Ale to come to Three Rivers. She hopes to put her language skills to use as an AmeriCorps volunteer this year, researching the history of Huss, sharing community members’ stories and updating social media with The Huss Project’s programming.

Among other questions that she is asking herself, Ale is wondering how she might develop consistent, daily habits that contribute to her mental health and social life in positive ways.

 

 

 

 

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*cino Work, People, Three Rivers

Welcoming new *cino staff!: Anna McClurkan

While the summer is halfway over, we have a few more wonderful folks to introduce to you at *culture is not optional. We’re really happy to have Anna McClurkan with us this summer! Her expertise in education, agriculture, and environmental studies has benefited our staff greatly at The Huss Project. Anna grew up in Kalamazoo and is currently a senior at Michigan State University, having worked in community gardens in East Lansing.

Anna’s current projects at The Huss Project Farm have allowed her space to do more on the ground work. “Being in Three Rivers lets you take a step back while also diving right into a small project like this where you can focus on one plot or one garden and be able to make a bigger impact than if you were doing the same kind of thing in a larger city,” she said. “It makes it a little less overwhelming.”

With environmental crises occurring and looming, practiced-based knowledge is a key component toward educating future generations, Anna noted. She’s excited to be working on the field at The Huss Project Farm where kids at summer lunches get the chance to see what vegetables we’re growing and the practices we’re implementing.

Anna noted that, going into the future, sustainable efforts toward environmental action will prove challenging, due to constant changes. “We’re probably going to have to make changes to keep up with what’s been happening around climate change so that we can continue to grow food sustainably even in uncharted and unpredictable areas,” she said.

On July 23rd, Anna will be teaching a class for kids interested in how compost works and what solutions it enables for our soil. Check out our event on Facebook!

 

 

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