*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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*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Jaz

With the start of Summer comes beautiful, new opportunities to build community and grow our organization. This year we welcomed three AmeriCorps Summer Associates to help maintain our flourishing urban farm at The Huss Project. This week we want to introduce you to one of them.

Jaz Popa, originally from New Jersey, has called Michigan home since college. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Food Systems. Her passion for farming, specifically urban farming, came after taking a few classes in food systems and seeing the need for a major societal shift in the way we approach food.   

She decided to join *cino for the Summer because it aligned with her pa

ssion for helping others  as well as “to help provide food insecure community areas with fresh,  healthy food and increase food access / knowledge.” 

Jaz also felt that the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps would provide her “a way for me to get involved in my neighboring communities to work on preventing poverty through food access”. 

When she’s not saving the world from hunger, Jaz loves visiting the beach and her family in New Jersey, growing her own food, and painting. 

We are so thrilled Jaz has joined us for this short season and we appreciate the dedication she has already brought to her work at *cino.

Stayed tuned for more introductions of the new *cino staff in upcoming weeks!

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

Farewell, Annelie!

Last 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! Annelie Haberman first came to *culture is not optional as a summer intern, and ultimately spent over two years living in Three Rivers. As an AmeriCorp participant, she coordinated details with the Huss Project Farm and its booth at the Three Rivers Farmers Market, contributed to a Community Asset Mapping project, and immersed herself in the Three Rivers community with great passion and care. She shared a reflection on her time here and what the future holds:

What first drew me to working with the incredible community of *cino was in finding a group of folks who not only were asking hard questions about what is the right way to live, but also taking action with creativity and a social justice mindset to go about addressing the systemic problems facing our society. Getting our hands in the dirt on the urban farm to take direct action around food and nutrition insecurities in our neighborhood was what first started to cultivate my understanding of how we make concrete steps to shape our culture and help fill the gaps that our society chooses not to address. 

While working in the forest of tomato plants or harvesting the never-ending zucchini, we would talk about everything from issues around immigration rights, the theology of a soul, and exploring permaculture possibilities of the farm. Through these conversations I found myself being challenged to ask deeper questions of all of my assumptions, reassess my values, and understand that my internal beliefs directly affected the people in my community. How was I going to shape myself to have a belief system that helped everyone thrive together?

My work and life with *cino beyond the farm was all over the map, from helping create an asset map of Three Rivers to making Christmas ornaments for one of our fundraisers. Helping plan the annual summer festival of Future Fest, I came to relish the act of celebrating our imaginative, playful minds as an act of building community together. Sharing food every week for potluck is where I learned the beautiful uniqueness of everyone’s personalities, passions, and peculiarities and how we can bring all those things into a room and let them unfurl in our laughter and thoughtful conversations. And living in our intentional community house, those will be the memories I hold closest to my heart from my time with *cino. Choosing to share the daily rhythms of life together with beautiful people and caring deeply about the work of nurturing each other’s souls, this way of being human together made me so happy to be alive.

I am incredibly grateful for my time with *cino and all you wonderful people, my dear friends. I go forward from here having learned so much and grown in mind and spirit, and I look forward to the next time our paths will cross.

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*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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