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

Apply for year-round and summer AmeriCorps positions now!

*culture is not optional (*cino)/The Huss Project is now accepting applications for three full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions and three AmeriCorps Summer Associate 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.

AmeriCorps VISTA (full year)

*culture is not optional runs the Huss Project, which is transforming a former elementary school in the rural city of Three Rivers, Michigan into a community hub for growing our capacity for imagination. For the next year, we are focusing our efforts on building a more resilient and just local food system in our rural city.

Huss is at the center of a multi-faceted, community-wide effort to strengthen local food systems, particularly for low-income households and using universal design principles that improve the system for all. In the inner circle of the ecosystem is an urban farm, a neighborhood farmers market, a food distribution program, and a community-run grocery store. These entities are connected to numerous food producers, businesses, civic organizations, and social service agencies throughout the city. The AmeriCorps VISTA Food Systems Innovation Project will help build the capacity for this system to meet the next level of its potential.

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, and detail-orientation.

Visit our listing on the AmeriCorps site to submit your application. Applications are open until April 10, but we’re looking to fill these positions as soon as possible to allow our VISTAs to plan for a May 10 start date. Here are some more details:

  • Application deadline: April 10,2021
  • Dates of service: May 10, 2021 to May 6, 2022
  • Weekly commitment: Full time, 40 hours per week
  • Compensation: living allowance (just over $12,000/year), plus educational award or end-of-service stipend and health insurance
  • Housing: Reduced-cost housing available ($250/mo. including utilities)
  • Other benefits
  • Apply here!

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.

AmeriCorps Summer Associates

*culture is not optional (*cino)/The Huss Project is also 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 1 – August 6, with a living stipend of $2,569.70 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 7 or until all three positions or filled, so apply today through the AmeriCorps web site!

  • Application deadline: May 7, 2021
  • Dates of service: June 1, 2021 – August 6, 2021
  • Summary of work: Educational programming and physical labor in support the Huss Project Farm, Huss Project Farmers Market, food distribution events, and more
  • Weekly commitment: 36 hours
  • Compensation: Living allowance of ~$2,500 plus educational award or cash stipend
  • Housing: Reduced-cost housing available ($625 for the 10-week term, including utilities)
  • Apply here!
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*cino Work, Education, Fundraising, Organization, People

Support two orgs with one gift this #GivingTuesday!

One of the things we’re all learning from the pandemic is how much we need each other

In 2020, seeing the increased need for food in our community and limited in what we could offer for special events, *culture is not optional / The Huss Project pivoted to focus primarily on fresh food production and distribution. Through our community partners and directly to local households, we distributed more than TWO TONS of free fresh fruits and vegetables.

While the Huss Project worked on food access, one of our neighbors, Geraldine Jaramillo, was continuing her work through Geri’s Resource Center to address barriers to success through advocacy, training, education, and support services.

As an expression of connection and mutual support, the Huss Project will donate 25% of any #GivingTuesday contributions we receive to Geri’s Resource Center. You can give through our Facebook campaign or web site. Facebook will match $7 million in qualifying donations to eligible US-based nonprofits starting at 8 am ET (5 am PT) on December 1, and continue matching until the $7 million match runs out. We also encourage those with enough to share to consider making a contribution directly to Geri’s Giving Tuesday campaign on Facebook.

DONATE NOW!

We look forward to partnering more closely with Geri’s Resource Center once it’s safe to open the new Huss Project Imaginarium to the public, hopefully sometime in 2021. In the meantime, the Huss Project crew is expanding our food access partnerships, participating in trainings, researching, planning, and working on other projects—all of which you can learn more about the Huss web site.

While we hope for an end to the pandemic, let’s all continue to be creative and alert to both the needs and the potential in our communities. Pandemic or not, we need one another to imagine and realize flourishing for all people in our neighborhoods, and we’re grateful for both your good work and your support!

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*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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*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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*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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*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Tiffany

This week we are continuing to introduce you to the newest members of our *cino community. It is our hope that you will better understand what drives us towards doing this work by getting to know our staff members.

Next up is Tiffany Chiang.

Tiffany, a native of Kalamazoo, developed an interest in being an AmeriCorps Summer Associate after her friend and current *cino AmeriCorps Staff member Jeff Torano,  told her about the great work the organization was doing.

After graduating college, Tiffany was confused about what she wanted to do with her life. She was interested in working outdoors and with other people so the opportunity to work at The Huss Project seemed like a perfect fit!

“Jeff was actually the one who told me about CINO! After hearing about it from him I was interested in learning more and found the Huss Project home page. It seemed like a community that I would fit well into and I was really interested in learning more about how an urban farm actually runs.”

In her free time Tiffany enjoys spending time outside hiking, playing piano, working with ceramics, and rock climbing.

We can’t wait to hear more about her experience at the end of the Summer. 

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