*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Fundraising, Hospitality, Leadership, People, Rectory Stories, SUSTAIN *cino

Summer snapshots at a glance

May 11 – *culture is not optional finishes up remodeling of 208 with the help of Florence Church members and other volunteers.

May 25 – Ale and Annelie begin AmeriCorps VISTA training. *cino is working to partner with AmeriCorps over the next three years to better build capacity for the organization as a whole. A few weeks later, the summer associates join for ten weeks.

June 10 – Summer lunches begin. The Huss Project has partnered seven summers so far with the Three Rivers Public Schools through their lunch program, Meet Up and Eat Up.

June 13 – The Huss Project joins the Three Rivers Water Fest Parade for to promote our work. This event gave AmeriCorps VISTA members a feel of the neighborhood and chance to meet the neighbors.

June 14 – *cino convenes with Camp Tavor over dinner at the camp. This year, Camp Tavor counselors stayed on rotation at 208 each week night.

June 15 – Summer work days begin at The Huss Project. For six weeks, we worked with volunteers from the neighborhood in preparation for Huss Future Festival and several other projects including the renovation of the Imaginarium and the pavilion.

June 20 –The Huss Project has its first Farmer’s Market of the season. Snap peas, strawberries and smiles!

June 21 –Malachi Carter comes all the way from Indianapolis to teach a photography class for kids at summer lunches. We had 12 kids participate and learn grow their visual art skills through practicing photography.

July 2 – Camp Tavor kids come out to volunteer with us at The Huss Project Gardens for Tikkun Olam. We had over 20 volunteers from the camp help weed the garden and plant tree saplings.

July 15 – Aundrea Syrie and Great Dane teach a creative workshop for kids in the neighborhood so that they can develop their love for words. We had 5 kids participate and stretch their confidence in making art with words.

July 23 – Anna teaches summer lunch kids the magic of compost. We had 8 kids participate and gain knowledge about the cycles of food from the soil to our plates and back into dirt through compost.

July 25 –In thanks to all of those who participated in the Big Steps Campaign, *cino hosts a soiree at the renovated Imaginarium.

July 27 – HUSS FUTURE FESTIVAL 2019 ARRIVES. We raised over $7,000 dollars with the help of volunteers and community members. Over 1,000 people from the community came to the festival to make art, get free school supplies for kids, eat delicious food, listen to local musicians perform, and connect with over 15 community resource organizations in our

July 30 – Tikkun Olam round two!

August 8 – Our summer associates’ last day on the job.

August 9 – Storytelling night commences with our wonderful host, Emily, prompting us to wonder about inheritance and legacy.

August 24 – Longtime community members, Alek and Deborah celebrate their love at the Imaginarium. First wedding ever hosted at Huss!

To summarize:

– At Huss Future Festival, we raised over $7,000 dollars this summer in support of the Huss Project.

– We built the pavilion and the Imaginarum.

– Our partnership with AmeriCorps began in efforts to keep this organization sustainable and joy-filled.

– We produced and distributed 2,353 pounds of vegetables this summer to the local food bank and the Three Rivers Farmers Market.

– Summer lunches were a success as we served and enjoyed food with a total of 1,454 children.

-*cino’s 100 Friends of Huss Campaign, launched this summer, partnering with long-term, dedicated lovers of food, art and play.

– Over 74 volunteers dedicated a total of 1,104 hours to Saturday Work Day projects, Summer Lunches, special education events, The Huss Project Farm, the Imaginarium and The Huss Future Festival.

Many thanks to our volunteers for contributing the time, financial support, gifts and love. This summer was filled with so much business, and your presence made all of the difference.





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*cino Work, Leadership, Organization, People, SUSTAIN *cino

Welcoming new *cino staff: Sugan

As the rhythm of summer has already begun, *culture is not optional is excited to welcome our new AmeriCorps members – Sugan, Jacob, Ale, Anna and Annelie! Our projects include food systems work at The Huss Project Farm, storytelling and promotions for *cino and Future Fest and construction for the Imaginarium.

This week we’ve asked the new staff to share how previous places they’ve inhabited inform their current perspectives and role in the world.

Sugan is a recent graduate from Western Michigan University and a summer associate here. They were born in Bundu Tuhan, Malaysia and have lived most of their life in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “The lesson I learned from Kalamazoo is that it’s important to invest in your community,” they noted. “What I’ve learned from spending time in Bundu Tuhan is that you have to draw upon preexisting knowledge. A lot of that knowledge comes from elders. So if you are going to take that model and apply it to non-indigenous and non-tribal settings, it would be talking to people who have been here for a long time.”

Sugan pointed out their appreciation for already having such interactions in Three Rivers. At the Water Parade in town, Sugan met Richard Price, a longtime resident of Three Rivers. He walked AmeriCorps members through several old sites on the walk, such as an old gas station where the Ridgeway Floral & Gifts now stands.

Getting to know folks in Three Rivers like Richard is an essential social value that, for Sugan, applies directly to *cino’s approach regarding other things like permaculture. In order to understand permaculture, we must understand its roots in indigenous cultures, where social and environmental aspects of agriculture are tied, Sugan noted.

Sugan’s involvement in Three Rivers – particularly working at the summer lunch program and Huss Project Farm – has allowed them to combine their interests in permaculture, community sustainability and education. “There is a certain type of empowerment, being able to grow your own food. That creates better connectedness between yourself and what sustains you,” they said.

One question Sugan has been asking themself is how to integrate self-healing work in the context of a systems thinking model. “It is ironic to be doing healing work—whether you’re healing the environment or community—and not healing yourself,” said Sugan. “My biggest question is how do I channel healing energy to myself as well?”

Stay tuned for future bios this week.

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Fundraising, SUSTAIN *cino

Introducing SUSTAIN *cino

Dear friends of *cino,
On Friday, February 19, the *culture is not optional board of directors met in Pennsylvania before attending the annual Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh. We had great conversation at Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea about *cino’s identity and about fund raising.

The good news

Here’s the good news: our work is flourishing. It was fun to be at Jubilee and hear directly from so many people who are inspired by the road journal, who love writing for catapult, who read the daily asterisk quote every day, who want to come to Practicing Resurrection and who are excited to see what is sprouting in Three Rivers at Huss School. We also had many good conversations with college students and post-grads who are striving to discern Kingdom faithfulness in all things: career, family, place, church, relationships and more. We’re glad that the resources *cino already offers can provide some of what they need on their journeys.

The…other news

Here’s the…other news: we are on the edge financially. Last spring, we stepped out in faith to purchase the historic Huss School building in Three Rivers and it has stretched our organization to the extent that we have urgent needs for the building and other expenses. We board members are praying and trusting that God will provide–and we’re getting to work!

Introducing SUSTAIN *cino

SUSTAIN *cino will be our effort over the next few years to cultivate our resources through three phases–getting by, sprouting and thriving–and we need your help. We have outlined three budget goals that will allow the work of *cino–including the Imagining Space project at Huss School–to grow and flourish. We’ve broken down the goals into monthly target amounts:

  • $2,500 per month: June 12, 2010
  • $5,000 per month: End of 2010
  • $10,000 per month: End of 2011

What we are asking of you now is to consider making a monthly commitment to help us meet our $2,500 per month goal by June 12, our one-year ownership anniversary Huss School. If $10 per month is what you can afford, you will be part of our foundation of many–after all, 150 gifts of all sizes helped us raise $25,000 in 40 days to purchase Huss School! Just think: if each of those 150 households gave $10 per month, we’d be over halfway to our first goal! And if you can afford $20 or $30 per month, you’ll help cover the share of someone who benefits from *cino’s work, but is in a low or no income situation.
Our experience has been that the foundation of *cino’s support will consist of many people like you catching the vision and doing what they can to participate. We are praying and working for major gifts and grants, to be sure, but we also need you to walk with us through the both the thrilling and the difficult times.
Our commitment is to keep doing and growing the good work God has called us to do through *cino and to stay in regular communication with you. Will you match our commitment with one of your own?
Yours in gratitude and trust,
The *culture is not optional Board of Directors
Jeff Bouman
Grant Elgersma
Gail Heffner
Sylvia Keesmaat
Tim Raakman
Hank Suhr
Rob & Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma
To set up a monthly donation or make a one-time contribution, please visit the *culture is not optional web site.

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Fundraising, Organization, SUSTAIN *cino

Possibilities and the necessary financial conversation

A good chunk of our board meeting on February 19 was spent discussing the financial needs of *culture is not optional. We’ve never been more excited about the work we’re doing and the possibilities that lie in front of us–especially the Imagining Space project. But to move forward, we really need to establish a much more stable financial foundation. Toward that end, we established three budget goals that we’ll be working toward over the next few years.

Getting by

$30,000 per year / $2,500 per month

  • Basic building expenses (mortgage, insurance, utilities)
  • Technology costs (server fees, domain registration, etc.)
  • Printing and mailing
  • Event fees (conference displays, etc.)


$60,000 per year / $5,000 per month

  • All of the above, plus …
  • A double mortgage payment (paying down principle faster)
  • Additional printing budget for books in the Road Map Series
  • Salary and benefits for director
  • Funding for professional accountant
  • Promotional budget


$120,000 per year / $10,000 per month

  • All of the above, plus …
  • Additional mortgage payments, paying off the mortgage in 3 years
  • Additional printing and mailing budget for expanded mailing list
  • Additional printing budget for books in the Road Map Series
  • Intern stipends
  • catapult magazine/road journal honoraria
  • Salary for part-time property manager
  • Additional promotional budget

These budget goals are primarily operational and only extend for the next few years. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to raise additional funding through grants and other sources to help fund the renovation of Huss School.

We’ve set the following timeline to try to meet these goals:

  • $2,500 per month: June 12, 2010
  • $5,000 per month: End of 2010
  • $10,000 per month: End of 2011

On the one hand, these goals seem ridiculously ambitious and unattainable. On the other hand, we feel like we’re simply following through on *cino’s vision. As we reflect on God’s faithfulness when *cino’s supporters contributed $25,000 in 40 days a little less than a year ago, an annual budget of $120,000 seems pretty realistic. And when we think of what we’d be able to accomplish with such a relatively small institutional budget, we get pretty excited …

We’ll be sending out more information soon about meeting our first goal!

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