*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.

Read More →

*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.

Read More →

Building, Fundraising, Online

Culture Make Sale poetry stones travel the world!

Poetry stone
Remember the Culture Make Sale, *cino’s online sale of handmade items and personalized services? Last fall, supporters of *culture is not optional from near and far connected with each other by creating and purchasing goods and services. We made over $1500, which will help to renovate the Huss School property in Three Rivers into a community center focused on agriculture and the arts.
This “joy” stone was given as a gift to a relative of mine in the the Netherlands! It crossed the ocean and found a new home in her garden. If you would like to share any pictures or stories from the Culture Make Sale of your own, let us know.

Read More →

Building, Fundraising, Online, Organization

Report from the Culture Make Sale

An enormous “Thank you!” to all who participated in the Culture Make Sale, whether by contributing goods and offering services, purchasing others’ donations, or simply perusing the website and sharing in the event.
*culture is not optional’s network stretches across the globe, and thanks to the success of the Culture Make Sale, that web of connections is growing! Over the past two months, friends of *cino new and old, from all over, have given and received gifts of time, energy, and resources, to benefit the renovation and development of the former Huss School building into a community center in Three Rivers, Michigan. Handmade ceramics, customized love letters and website design, brilliant books and poetry, yard work, artwork, apple pies, and so much more – these are little bits of human culture that enrich our lives, and all the more so when they are shared.
Thanks to all for helping raise over $1500 for the Imagining Space at Huss School! Your continued support ensures that Huss School is on its way to becoming a place of peace, hope, and justice.
Additionally, the sale will continue soon in Three Rivers: World Fare, a fair trade store downtown, has partnered with *cino as an outlet to sell goods that give life to projects and endeavors in the local community. Be sure to stop by 37 N. Main St. in the near future and check out the many wonderful items still on sale!

Read More →

Online, People, Publishing

catapult editor contributes to Comment integrity symposium

Check out the Integrity and the Entrepreneur symposium over at Comment Magazine, which features stories from people throughout the U.S. and Canada. I contributed an account of how we dealt with a theft situation from our fair trade store World Fare in 2009.

Read More →


*cino is now on Twitter

You can now receive *cino updates via Twitter, which is most likely exciting news to some and a harbinger of doom to others.

Read More →

Online, Publishing

New catapult site

If you’re a regular reader of catapult magazine, you probably noticed that the catapult site changed drastically with our last issue. We’re proud to introduce a complete redesign of the site that we hope will help foster more regular discussion on the site. We’re still in the process of adding a few more features and we’ll let you know when those are available. Also, you’ll soon be able to support catapult and *cino by subscribing to the magazine for additional features. Stay tuned!

Read More →


Welcoming Hearts and Minds Books

*cino is very pleased to welcome Hearts and Minds Books into the *cino blog network.  Hearts and Minds is a bookstore in Dallastown, Pennsylvania started and run by Byron and Beth Borger with a wonderful and comprehensive understanding of reformatinoal Christian worldview.  They’ve long been involved with the CCO in Pittsburgh and one of the highlights of CCO’s Jubilee Conference in February is the huge Hearts and Minds book table.  Byron regularly updates his blog with passionate reviews of new resources; we encourage you to check out his posts and support his store!

Read More →


Improved discussion boards

Several months ago, we were forced to have all new *cino discussion board registrations approved by a board administrator in order to keep malicious users from posting spam and wreaking havoc on the site. Then we were overwhelmed by bogus registrations–at least 25 a day–until we were no longer approving any registrations, which obviously runs contrary to the kind of invitational community we’re trying to foster here.
Well, we have made a significant breakthrough today by adding Akismet authorization to everything posted on the board, from new registrations to discussion posts. Akismet is a service that checks information submitted against a vast database of confirmed spam criteria, returning either a positive or negative value back to our site that it can use to confirm or reject a user or a post automatically.
Users can once again register without a moderator’s approval simply by confirming an e-mail address after registration.
We apologize to many of you who tried to register over the last several months and were unable to have your account activated for use. We tried to find and activate legitimate registrations in the 900 or so unactivated accounts we recently deleted from our database. If we missed your account, we hope you’ll see this message and register again to participate in the *cino community!

Read More →


New server

Well … it’s happened again, a little earlier than expected. After a number of utilities on which we rely–our web sites, e-mail lists and others–started failing a little too regularly on our old server, we decided to move to a new, more reliable server. Wouldn’t you know it? The day we initiated the move, all of our sites went down on the old server–making our move a little less graceful than we had hoped.
Anyway, we almost have everything back to normal here at *cino central, barring a few tests. In fact, this blog post is serving two purposes: letting you all know what’s going on and testing our blogging capabilities on the new server.
Thank you for your continued patience and for your participation in the *cino community.

Read More →