People, Rectory Stories

Una despedida a nuestro amigo, Ginna!

We bid our friend Ginna a fond farewell on Monday as she headed home to Costa Rica via California.  Ginna served as a *cino intern for two months and did a ton of work to help get Triple Ripple Community Gardens up and running for its fourth growing season.  But much more than the sum of her hard work, Ginna was a joyful, affectionate presence in our community and we all miss her greatly already.  We wish she could have stayed longer, but certainly understand the pull of home on her heart.  Hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo, Ginna!

For a more complete picture of Ginna’s time here, check out what she wrote for the Huss Stories series.

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Hospitality, People, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

Homemade hospitality with Trinity Episcopal Church

On Sunday, April 28, members of the *cino community enjoyed sharing coffee, tea, juice and homemade cinnamon rolls between and after worship services with members of Trinity Episcopal Church.

Since the summer of 2010, *cino has been renting Trinity’s rectory to house an intentional community, which includes volunteer staff and summer interns.  The church has also graciously allowed us to use their basement for the times extra space is needed, including summer and various student groups who come to Three Rivers for service-learning, retreat, leadership training and just-plain-visiting.  Last year, Trinity applied for a grant to renovate the bathrooms in the basement and put in a shower, which has been wonderfully helpful for all of the hosting our group does.

Trinity will celebrate its 150th anniversary this coming September and we were excited to hear during coffee hour about some of the creative plans that are taking shape for that event.  True to their long legacy of outreach and hospitality, Trinity has not only rented space to the *cino gang, but they’ve also contributed in terms of furniture, housewares, encouragement, financial contributions and, simply, friendship.  (We greatly miss our Trinity friend Jeanette and her kind pup Larry — they appear around :33 in this video — who lived across the street from Huss until Jeanette passed away last year.)  In addition to all of this generosity, Trinity has also agreed to host a Noisy Offering next Sunday to continue their support of the Huss Project Brick Campaign.  Thank you, Trinity friends, for all you do to live out your congregational mission to be “God’s love in action” in Three Rivers and beyond!

Bring your loose change and join us at Trinity Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 5 for a Noisy Offering (coins in baking pans, although bills and checks are welcome, too!).  Special offerings will take place at both the 8:00 a.m. (spoken liturgy) and 10:00 a.m. (sung liturgy) worship services.  Trinity is located at 321 N. Main Street in Three Rivers.

Check out photos of *cino goings-on at Trinity:

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*cino Work, Hospitality, Rectory Stories

Would you like to hear a story? It could be embarrassing…

Hello! My name is Christina and this is my first post to the *cino intern blog. A little intro about myself: I am a rising senior at Calvin College studying theatre. As part of my internship with *cino I am collecting stories about Huss School through interviews with people in the community, which I will then edit to create a performance at the end of the summer. I am really excited to learn more about Three Rivers and to be part of the transformation of Huss School. Through our workdays at the school, cooking together, eating together, and sharing stories, I’ve come to know and love the fellow interns, staff, and other *cino supporters.
Last night we assembled to welcome the new CINO interns and host the first storytelling night of the summer. Much in the vein of The Moth Podcast, for those familiar with NPR, we held an open mike for stories relating to a particular theme. Last night we told identity stories. I love stories! As a theatre enthusiast, I believe stories have the power to reinforce identity, build community, and, please forgive the cliché, change the world.
In many ways, last night’s event confirmed my personal beliefs about storytelling. I felt honored, welcomed into this group of friends gathered in our home to share memories of the people and events that shaped their character. Our stories ranged in location from Three Rivers to Korea and the tales depicted adoption, journeys, violins, marriage, unexpected finds, birth, death, and beards. It takes a certain amount of courage to stand before an audience and speak. In my theatre experience, I usually have a character, someone else’s identity, to hide behind. It can be so much scarier to stand before a crowd, as yourself, to share something personal. As anyone with stage fright can tell you, the audience can be very intimidating. Who knows what they are thinking? How they are judging you? Fortunately, last night’s audience was compassionate and attentive. However, the situation still held the potential for embarrassment. But that is a good thing.
Last semester, for my directing class, I read Anne Bogart’s collection of essays on art and theatre from the book A Director Prepares. In one of her essays Bogart discusses the potential for embarrassment in art. She writes, “If your work does not sufficiently embarrass you, then very likely no one will be touched by it.” Painfully embarrassing moments include times when we feel ashamed of ourselves, when we reveal something intensely personal and intimate, and, of course, the times we rip our pants in public. People avoid embarrassment for good reason. It is not always safe for us to reveal ourselves and relive embarrassing moments. We do not want to make ourselves vulnerable to everyone. However, sharing moments where you felt intense shame or exposure can be a wonderful bonding experience, when you are with the right group of people. I have been to enough slumber parties to verify that fact.
Fortunately, last night’s audience made up a wonderful, welcoming, and compassionate community. Although I am still new to Three Rivers, I felt an unusual familiarity with the people I met last night. They greeted me with hugs, smiles, and jokes. Perhaps this is part of the culture of a small town. However, I think part of the familiarity comes from our common support of *cino and the organization’s mission to strengthen community and create good culture. I felt blessed to be in an environment where others felt safe opening up. I heard wonderful and powerful stories. I believe I witnessed something sacred. We recorded a number of the stories. I thought I might post some of the clips here, but I’ve decided against that. The Internet is not a safe environment to reveal my identity story. I bet you’re really interested now ;) I hope that tantalizing recap will convince you to participate in our next storytelling event. Maybe you might even tell an embarrassing story. Regardless, wherever you are, I encourage you to listen compassionately, without judgment. We could all use an empathetic audience.

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Hospitality, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

Watermelon, sunshine & no shoes allowed!

About a month ago I moved my (not-so-few) possessions from Grand Rapids to Three Rivers. That night, as my fellow interns and I situated ourselves in our rooms, the house felt big, empty and foreign. Having just left a cocoon-like college community, I felt anxious giving up my warm coverlet of intimate friendships. Now that I am settled in Three Rivers (after being in Texas for a few weeks), I don’t feel nearly as nervous. This probably has a lot to do with this last 4th of July weekend.
“Watermelon, sunshine, and no shoes allowed!” Johnny, (another intern) exclaimed when, over a month ago, we first discussed inviting our friends down for the 4th to show them Three Rivers. “It will be a porch-swinging, root beer*-slurping, grand old time.” The prospect of sharing the simple pleasures of this place with my friends excited me. Mixing these worlds intentionally would be a momentous occasion.
We were fairly open with our invitations and told people to bring friends. We expected most of the pals we invited to already have plans. As the weekend quickly approached, we were still uncertain of how many would arrive. We never expected to see all of the nineteen familiar faces, which passed through our doors over the weekend. Thursday, our first guests came for with our weekly CINO house dinner. Folks just kept coming. People dropped their family get-togethers, and they delayed their vacations. There seemed to be a general acknowledgement of the significance of our gathering. And so, Rebecca, Stephanie, Greg, Ryan, Heidi, Heather, Kevin, Jen, Ben, Mitchell, Karie, Nathaniel, Kristen, Mag, Kirsten, Matt, Tiffany, Lydia, and Megan came in packs of four or five to celebrate the many connections which have developed amongst us over the last four years.
Despite our numbers our time together was rich, and even tranquil. On the porch, Kevin broke the soft silence of a circle of avid readers with humorously grotesque excerpts from Arabian Nights (his audience grumbled and chuckled concurrently). Kirsten and Kristen, dusted in pastel, drew eclectic designs on the sidewalk with chalk. At the dining room table a group of (short-term) soccer-enthusiasts watched the World-Cup, munched melon and chattered loudly about the game. In the kitchen, Jen matched their ruckus storming around the kitchen, commanding people to peel this or chop. Greg on the other hand, exuding calm, cleaned the cutting boards before the knives were put down. So, basically we didn’t do anything. People were content just being together.
Then on Sunday we went to Pleasant Lake. Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma’s Grandparents graciously invited us interns to bring our friends out to their cottage to swim. When we (with apprehension) showed up with a small army, they didn’t even flinch. They were so welcoming and it was a beautiful day! As dusk approached, I sat out on the raft in the water and gazed at the sky over the water. Sunlight and water. I realized then that friendship is not so much like a protective shell, or a warm cocoon. Water, the substance that I can dive into in the summer and which covers me like a blanket in the fall, is constantly taking new forms. So also will my friendships take on new forms.

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Hospitality, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

just give the biker a vegan sandwich.

My first blog post.
This is Johnathan- I’ve been here in Three Rivers since May 31st, and days here are beginning to feel familiar and rhythmic. It has taken some time to reach that point, partly because we interns have all moved here at different times, but also because projects take time to develop. The vision of a task and of the collective has to come into focus before a path can be set. So, I am getting comfortable. That feels nice.
One interesting event that seemed to mark the start of my establishment here happened just last week. Paul already mentioned the four cyclists barreling through St. Joseph county, stumbling across us in hopes to find a space to sleep. Well, not only were these four women fun to be around and adventurous as all get-out (cycling from D.C.? oook.), they were a beautiful reminder of how enriching being spontaneously open can be. Having just moved from a community in Grand Rapids where strangers couch-surfed often and the door was always unlocked, I had grown accustomed to a quick (and random) hospitality. Being able to function as a community, responding to immediate opportunities at the drop of a hat, was something I was good at and really enjoyed.
So, it meant a lot to me last week when Paul, Jared, and I were able to function together in offering what we had to these travelers. It christened the house in a way. It proved we could pull together vegan meals, clean towels, and pillows for random people with no notice.
I have confidence in us now. I’m here now.

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*cino Work, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

Settled, just.

Welcome to this new space for us lovely *cino interns to let you know what we’re up to while we’re hiding down (or up, I guess) in Three Rivers, MI.
Currently there are 4 of us here: Myself, Johnathan Loritsch, Liz Wroughton, and Jared Renaud – all recent Calvin grads.
Why are we here? All of us know Rob and Kirstin slightly different ways, but all through Calvin, and generally speaking through their (awesome) work in the SAO.
But why are we here? I’ll save that for later – we can all explain our own reasons!
Where are we? Three Rivers is a little over an hour south of Grand Rapids, and not far north of the Indiana border. Three Rivers (or ThrEHrivers as it is pronounced here) has population 7,500 (ish), and an interesting mix of vacant downtown storefronts and funky places you wouldn’t expect outside a larger city (including World Fare, a fair trade store that Rob and Kirstin started, and the Riviera Theater, a recently renovated movie theater that shows great movies and has frequent concerts, and most impressively, Lowry’s book store, an intimidatingly large [3 store fronts] space with a mammoth collection of used and new books).
And where are WE? The interns are living in the rectory of the close-by Trinity Episcopal Church (a.k.a. the Insurrectory, a.a.k.a. the Resurrectory). We’re allowed to stay here rent-free for the moment – which is super.
We arrived 3 and a half weeks ago, and at this point we’re pretty settled. Liz, Johnathan and I arrived first, aided by local (and sole) Three Rivers CRC pastor Tim Raakman, whose lovely church I finally got to visit yesterday. Tim has his own moving truck, which helped a lot in getting things down here, and has since helped immensely in moving furniture into our house.
We’ve been blessed by the generosity of *cino’s Three Rivers community in furnishing the house. We moved into what was an unfurnished house that hadn’t been lived in for around 4 years. After extended periods of cleaning and organizing, the house (wallpaper aside) is spacious and a great place to live. Rob and Kirstin had sent out requests for furniture and appliances and kitchenware, and within a very short period of time everything we could have needed was provided. With the help of the aforementioned moving truck, we filled the house with chests, beds, mattresses, linens, utensils, and a ridiculous tv harvested from the Huss School building.
In the time after the three of us arrived, there has been a lot of moving around. I was gone for a week travelling, and Liz also left fairly soon after. Marian Mooi, another Calvin grad, was here for 2 weeks, and Johnathan has also been away for 10 days. As July now approaches, we have been joined by Jared, and now that Liz has returned from Texas we will have a full house for a full month!
What has been going on in the first month? Some highlights include….

  • all of us working shifts in the World Fare store
  • looooots of work at the Huss School (cleaning, moving, breaking, fixing, roofs, organizing, throwing out)
  • eating meals on our huge front porch
  • watching lightning storms on our huge front porch
  • dishes by candlelight during a power outage
  • watching Anne of Green Gables
  • playing loud music
  • discovering a good dumpster (food costs have plummeted)

One recent highlight worth a brief narrative is the visit of a band (flock? drove? herd?) of 4 cyclists riding across the country. Rob heard about these happy four from Lowry’s books, where they had been asking about a place to pitch tents. These four women, all who attended the same college in Florida, were biking across the country, starting from Washington D.C., and had arrived for the night in Three Rivers. We offered them the intern house to stay at, which was a nice break from the outdoors. It was a Thursday, which is the weekly time that the interns host Rob and Kirstin for dinner, and so a large meal gathering was already planned, and it was fun to bring our group up to 9 people from 5. We had a good time hanging out with the cyclists, who ended up staying a second night (they were very welcome, after cooking dumpster hash browns for us their first morning), and hope to host more friends and randoms while we’re living here.
What are we each doing? I leave this until last so that others can give their own accounts. I myself am working on grant research at the moment. At the same time, we are all looking ahead to July 24, a big fund-raising event at the school, and are all pitching in to get the space ready. Johnathan will be able to say more about that event, since he’s working mainly on preparation for it.

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