Join us August 9-12 at The Huss Project for our fourth biennial Practicing Resurrection conference. With a theme of “The 100-Mile Imagination,” the conference is moving right here to Three Rivers, Michigan! Come celebrate the delights of place by camping out on the Huss Project’s four acres and enjoying a variety of workshops for all ages throughout our small city. The Practicing Resurrection web site and registration are now online and we’re adding new information all the time. You can also RSVP and invite others on Facebook. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
Last Friday, June 1, marked the beginning of the *cino summer internship program here in Three Rivers. This year, five interns (including myself) signed up to live in community alongside existing members of *cino, with the intent of helping the organization live into a kingdom vision for this small town in southern Michigan. Our first weekend here consisted of an array of happenings, which served as a great introduction to the area and gave us plenty to do, too.
After move-in Friday afternoon, we loaded up and drove to the middle school for Stand for Children Day, our first “official” *cino event. Stand for Children is a celebration of the local youth that includes food, games, and a variety of activities. At our booth, we shared information about *cino with members of the community and helped children paint wooden squares for a collaborative art project (to be unveiled at Future Festival on July 21). The kids seemed to really enjoy using their imaginations, and I know we had a great time assisting, watching, and listening to them throughout that process.
Next was our first weekly community dinner at the Trinity Episcopal Church rectory (where we live together). If there is one thing I have already grown to love about this community, it is the food that we share. With a few interns (myself included) working for a couple of generous local farmers, our supply of fresh produce seems infinite. Many of the interns are quite skilled in the kitchen, as well. Needless to say, all of this makes for wonderful meals, for which I am very grateful.
The evening was capped off by a showing of The Big Lebowski at the recently renovated Riviera Theatre. Some of us left the theatre shocked, while others left even more convinced that the Rectory is in need of a new rug (something that would really tie the room together). Nevertheless, we all left anxious for the morning to arrive.
Saturday began with a biking tour of Three Rivers. Our first stop was Hescott’s Donuts where Rob and Kirstin treated us all to some delicious pastries (I got a maple frosted cinnamon roll and it was fantastic). Other stops and sights included the Three Rivers Public Library, Hidden Marsh Sanctuary, and finally — our destination — Huss School. When we arrived, Rob gave us a tour of the building while Emily prepared the space for our picnic and discussion on the back lawn. Once again, the food was delicious, and the conversation that followed was a great time of sharing and learning about each other. Saturday continued, and ended, with some much appreciated “free time.” The house spent the evening chatting, reading, post-meal lingering, and Bananagramming. In my opinion, the evening marked one of the first truly memorable experiences of the summer. I’m hopeful that many more evenings will be and feel as warm as that one did.
Sunday morning the entire *cino crew met at Trinity. After the service, we helped the congregation with some yard work and chores around the building. Emily and I had a good conversation while we stubbornly trimmed the bushes in the backyard by hand (no electricity for us, thank you). When we had finished working, Father David invited us to eat with some members of the church, which is exactly what we did. Gathered around a table, we got to know a few folks from the church-a kind bunch of people who do a lot for *cino and provide us with a place to stay. The rest of Sunday was (for the most part) filled with a healthy bit of nothingness, as we put to rest our first weekend spent together-a collection of days that I will not forget.
Of course, this is not all that happened. Throughout the weekend we relaxed on the porch, drank coffee, and told stories. Margaret considered leading an “ice-breaker” game before we all shot it down. Jay was introduced to Craig Thompson. Hannah made some cookies. And everyone listened patiently to my absurd ramblings (about Magic, mini-horses, and the dentist). The people with whom I will be living for the next three months are an inspiring collective.
Perhaps it is the flickering optimism inside of me; or the naivety that comes with youth; or, perhaps — dare I say it — it is the truth. Regardless, the more time I spend in Three Rivers, the more I believe that something truly amazing is happening in this place; that it is beautiful. That discovered in the flavor of every bite and beneath all the torn up carpet and hidden in the silence after the thundering roar of the Rectory toilet, there is a gentle whisper of hope.
Welcome to the *cino Talks blog! I’m Stephanie, one of several residents of the *cino community who live and work in Three Rivers, Michigan.
It feels quite remarkable to remember that just over a year ago, a group of college friends relocated from Grand Rapids to this rural small town in southwest Michigan and into the generously shared space of Trinity Episcopal Church’s rectory. Although many friends from this initial gathering have since embarked upon other endeavors, ongoing conversations have encouraged other college students and postgraduates to spend some time here in Three Rivers as well. I often recall the particular conversation that kindled this decision to join friends here in Three Rivers; a memory that includes the question, “What if a group of friends decided to move to Three Rivers this summer?”
It was springtime, and a pleasant enough day to perch piles of books on a courtyard table to peruse the themes of hospitality, imaginative living, and a faithful commitment to place. Yes, it was none other than Rob and Kirstin, leafing through pages and planning their first spring break trip — a foray into “art, agriculture, and development in rural communities.” Now, when you bump into such delightful friends and catch sight of the well-worn texts written by Cornel West, Wendell Berry, Brian Walsh, Kathleen Norris and the like, all collected together into an epitome of all that your college courses could explore, you get a little curious. And maybe a bit excited.
Rob and Kirstin went on to describe the spring break trip as both ethnographic and participatory, where students would traverse the rural small-town landscape of Three Rivers and visit local organic farms, learn from community members including artists, activists, historians, writers, and business owners, prepare shared meals with locally-sourced food, do service work at *cino’s Huss School building, and live and learn at the Hermitage, a serene Mennonite retreat center located in the hills west of town. This trip would encourage students to envision a community that is informed by a Christian “rule of life,” but also one that is learning-based, service-oriented, imaginative, and committed to the local culture and identity of Three Rivers and the other places we call home. As a student who was preparing to finish college with various opportunities pulling me in several directions, I was quite intrigued by this alternative vision for community. It was this very conversation, and many to come, that seemed to incite a small and ongoing migration of friends to Three Rivers.
Now why am I focusing so fixedly on such a memory? This memory reflection has recently served to unearth a period of questioning, the most pressing of which is the question of why I still believe in the work and identity of *culture is not optional. When I consider all that this past year has encompassed, I can undoubtedly say that it has indeed been a period of practicing hospitality, of striving to commit to this place, and of allowing our imaginations to shape the work that we do together. Sure, I cannot altogether affirm that our presence here has been characterized by an unceasing creative momentum and a clearly defined vision, nor did I ever expect for it to be so. But those initial conversations about how we are to live whole lives in this community still persist, allowing space to ask questions and work through the wobbles and gaps in my own understanding of *cino’s presence in Three Rivers and beyond.
As Kirstin introduced in the opening blog post for the *cino Talks, *culture is not optional, as an organization and gathering of friends, is transitioning into a period when we give greater attention to the mission and vision of this organization. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve most likely participated in some small or large part in *culture is not optional, whether it be living and working in Three Rivers, reading and writing for <a href=”http://www.catapultmagazine.com”><em>catapult magazine</em></a>, visiting <a href=”https://www.cultureisnotoptional.com/space”>Huss School</a>, or all the many other ways you’ve chosen to support this community. The *cino Talks is a dialogue where we hope to include your thoughts and observations regarding *culture is not optional’s organizational identity.
So, in a roundabout way, we’re asking if you can join us in reflecting on two questions for this initial phase:
- Why is *culture is not optional important to you?
- What limits your support of *culture is not optional?
These questions are broad, but your thoughtful and honest reflection is very valuable for *cino as we seek to move forward into a clearer identity and vision in the upcoming months. Answers can be <a href=”http://www.catapultmagazine.com/contact”>submitted here </a> or via the comment section below.
So, again welcome to the *cino Talks blog. We hope that it can become a space where you can also reflect on the ways that *culture is not optional has become important to you and participate in the ongoing conversations about faith, community, culture, place and so much more.
Huss Future Festival took place last Saturday, as 300 visitors from near and far filled the hallways with music, laughter, participation and creativity. We had a good ol’ time and raised over $600 for the Imagining Space Project at Huss, in addition to raising funds for Triple Ripple Community Gardens and the annual Back to School Celebration. See the Imagining Space blog for a full report from the festival, as well as our photos of the event. CAUTION: if you missed it, you’re going to wish you hadn’t!
Join us on July 30 for the Second Annual Huss Future Festival! This year’s event will include live music, food from the Triple Ripple Community Garden and the Three Rivers Area Faith Community, an art and art supply sale sponsored by the Three Rivers Artist Guild, a used clothing sale … and more! We invite you to drop by to get a glimpse of the vision for the Imagining Space at Huss School.
On July 28-30, we’re also partnering with Maple Tree Meadows to host a ^camping is not optional event in Three Rivers. This beautiful farm is only ten minutes from Huss School, making it an ideal place to stay if you’re coming into town for the Future Festival. Our camping events are very informal, but provide plenty of opportunities for sharing good food, stories, farm chores, songs and more. If you’d like, you could also volunteer for the Festival while you’re here; just send us a note to let us know you’re interested. We have limited space available, so register early!
*cino’s staff is doubling in size as a whole new group of summer interns find their way to Three Rivers this month. In celebration, we’re throwing a welcoming party on June 12, at 7:00 pm. This will not only be a wonderful chance for local supporters and friends to meet the new interns, but it will also be the first night of our summer storytelling series. During the first part of the evening, you are encouraged to come enjoy good company and good eats. Then around 8:00, we will gather to share stories. The theme for the night will be stories about identity; this could be an amusing anecdote from grade school when you realized you were just a little bit different than everyone else in your class, the story of how you choose your career, the weight and joys of carrying your family name, your experience as a privileged or marginalized person–any story of the humor or struggles of defining ourselves. If you would like to tell a story, we ask that it be 3-7 minutes in length; however, if you would just like to come and listen, you are more than welcome to do that as well. The event will take place at the Trinity Episcopal Church Rectory (317 N. Main St., Three Rivers, MI). We look forward to seeing you there!
This weekend, we’ll be co-hosting the biennial Practicing Resurrection conference with Russet House Farm in Cameron, Ontario. Our theme this year is “Urban Agriculture and the Peace of the City” and the event will feature keynote speakers Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, as well as a great slate of exciting workshop presenters.
It should be a refreshing and inspiring event!
Huss Future Festival 2010 will take place on Saturday, July 24 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Stop by 1008 8th St. in Three Rivers to browse the rummage sale, to enjoy free coffee and live music at the bake sale and to purchase handmade art. Visitors can also learn more about *culture is not optional’s future plans for the Huss School property through tours and art exhibits, including the Tripple Ripple Community Gardens. All proceeds from the Future Festival will benefit the renovation of the historic Huss School for an off-campus program for college students and a community center. Bake sale donations, volunteers and art vendors are still being accepted; please contact us for more information about donating.