*cino Work, People, Three Rivers

Welcoming new *cino staff!: Anna McClurkan

While the summer is halfway over, we have a few more wonderful folks to introduce to you at *culture is not optional. We’re really happy to have Anna McClurkan with us this summer! Her expertise in education, agriculture, and environmental studies has benefited our staff greatly at The Huss Project. Anna grew up in Kalamazoo and is currently a senior at Michigan State University, having worked in community gardens in East Lansing.

Anna’s current projects at The Huss Project Farm have allowed her space to do more on the ground work. “Being in Three Rivers lets you take a step back while also diving right into a small project like this where you can focus on one plot or one garden and be able to make a bigger impact than if you were doing the same kind of thing in a larger city,” she said. “It makes it a little less overwhelming.”

With environmental crises occurring and looming, practiced-based knowledge is a key component toward educating future generations, Anna noted. She’s excited to be working on the field at The Huss Project Farm where kids at summer lunches get the chance to see what vegetables we’re growing and the practices we’re implementing.

Anna noted that, going into the future, sustainable efforts toward environmental action will prove challenging, due to constant changes. “We’re probably going to have to make changes to keep up with what’s been happening around climate change so that we can continue to grow food sustainably even in uncharted and unpredictable areas,” she said.

On July 23rd, Anna will be teaching a class for kids interested in how compost works and what solutions it enables for our soil. Check out our event on Facebook!

 

 

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Education, Organization, Three Rivers

Celebrating Tikkun Olam

Last week, counselors and campers from Camp Tavor joined the *culture is not optional community to help practice Tikkun Olam at The Huss Project. Tikkun Olam is a traditional practice of service and healing to the world that Camp Tavor practices with each camping session, and The Huss Project is one of various sites they volunteer with during the summer.

To begin the day, the Tavor and *cino folks got to know each other with a couple ice breakers, including learning where home is for each person and what each person is currently reading (answers included Florida, Israel, and England, and Harry Potter, The Hate U Give, and Instagram!). Afterwards, they began working with *cino staff on many interesting tasks, including getting their hands dirty to help pot 100 trees for an event at the Huss Future Fest,  laying compost on the site’s tomato patch, and ridding the garden of pests. To finish out their time at Huss, the Tavor and *cino folks joined the summer lunch crew in the front of the building to help distribute lunches to attendees.

We’re very thankful for Camp Tavor’s service and can’t wait to work with them again in the future!

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*cino Work, People, Three Rivers

Renewed partnership with Camp Tavor

The *culture is not optional community is very excited to partner with Habonim Dror Camp Tavor again this summer! We will house their madrichimot (camp counselors) at our community house so that they can enjoy a time of respite on their days off. Campers and counselors-in-training will also be working with us for a few days at the Huss Project Farm.

Camp Tavor is a Jewish youth-development cultural camp near Three Rivers that is affiliated with the Habonim Dror Youth Movement. Their mission is “empowering young people to dream of and build a more just and peaceful future.” Located on Lake Kaiser, Camp Tavor seeks to engage their campers through games, creative adventures, storytelling, and lively conversation.

To begin bonding the two communities, *cino joined the Camp Tavor staff on June 14th for a tour of the facilities, followed by a Shabbat dinner that included good music, wonderful food, and great conversation.

We are very grateful and excited for this partnership and can’t wait to see what we accomplish together with Camp Tavor during the summer of 2019.

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Building, Fundraising, People, Three Rivers

Crowdfunding campaign launched for the Huss Project Imaginarium

$50,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

Three Rivers will soon be home to a whimsical year-round public space that will transform part of the historic Huss School into the Huss Project Imaginariumthrough a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation andnonprofit *culture is not optional (*cino) announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by December 15, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit: patronicity.com/hussproject. *cino will be hosting a kick-off event at the Huss Project on Thursday, November 1, from 5:00 to 7:00pm with presentations and tours at 5:30pm and 6:30pm.

“The Huss Project Imaginarium is a creative take on a community space,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “The varied uses and beautiful design of the space are what makes it welcoming and unique. We are pleased to provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The campaign will complete the redevelopment of the original library and kindergarten room of the historic building, transforming them into a multi-use indoor courtyard and meeting space. When completed, thetwo-story space will featurefloor-to-ceiling bookshelves on both levels,seating and tables, refinished 100-year-old wood floors, upgraded bathrooms,an upgraded and expanded kitchenette,energy-efficient windows styled after the original 1919 windows, high-efficiency HVAC system, and an outdoor front porch pavilion constructed from reclaimed barn wood.

Once it’s up and running year-round, the Imaginarium will support the Huss Project’s existing programming and allow them to expand from summer lunches to community events, after-school programs, potlucks, and more. The Imaginarium will also be available to other community organizations for their programming, dramatically transforming this under-utilized space in an underserved neighborhood into a vital community asset.

“Our organization has had success using crowdfunding before, so we were excited when Patronicity announced its partnership with MEDC for the Public Spaces Community Places program. We’ve been waiting for the right project to come along that would allow us to utilize this collaboration to turn a corner at the Huss Project and the Imaginarium is perfect,” said Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, Executive Director of *culture is not optional. “The matching grant from MEDC will allow us to complete a beautiful, whimsical, year-round public space that will build our city’s capacity for friendship and imagination.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at https://patronicity.com/puremichigan.

“Inviting public spaces are key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The distinct character of the Huss Project Imaginarium will make it a go-to destination for residents and visitors alike.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of October 2018, MEDC has provided $5,559,166 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 182 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with nearly $6.6 million raised from 33,069 individual donors.

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Education, Organization, People, Three Rivers

Meet the 2017 *cino interns!

Pictured above (L-R): Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma (*cino staff), Danielle Rendulic, Jerry Moreland, Deborah Haak (*cino staff), Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma (*cino staff), Annelie Haberman, and Mariana Perez

We’re excited to welcome a new group of summer interns to the *culture is not optional volunteer staff! We kicked off the summer with a weekend orientation, as well as walking in the Three Rivers Water Festival parade: we handed out over 1,000 flyers to the community with information about our summer events at the Huss Project.

Our Community Engagement team is headed up by Danielle Rendulic and Jerry Moreland. They’ve already started posting on our social media sites, sending out emails, hanging up posters, and cooking up creative ideas for the Huss Project. Danielle heard *cino’s co-founders, Rob and Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma, when they spoke at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, this past winter. Jerry got connected to *cino through a professor at his college, Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, who is good friends with *cino volunteers Derl and Karen Keefer.

Mariana Perez and Annelie Haberman are leading our Agriculture team, and they are quite busy at the ever-growing urban farm at the Huss Project! Mariana, who hails from Wisconsin, just graduated from Calvin College and heard about *cino through its partnership with Calvin’s Service-Learning Center. Annelie learned about *cino from her friend Lauren Otto—one of our interns from last summer— and joined her on a cross-country road trip from Oregon to be with us for the summer. Lauren joined us in May and June and was a great help getting Project Farm prepared this spring.

With the fresh talent, new ideas, and helping hands of these individuals, we believe that have a great summer in store at *culture is not optional and the Huss Project. Stay tuned!

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*cino Work, Building, Education, Organization, People, Three Rivers

Spend a summer (or a year) in Three Rivers!

Join us for our 10-week summer internship program in Three Rivers, Michigan! We’re looking for folks who are self-motivated and interested in the cross-section of social justice, local food, community, and deep-rooted faith values to join *culture is not optional (*cino) in Three Rivers as we work toward the flourishing of our rural city.

The 2017 summer internship runs from June 1 to August 12. Interns live together in our community house, work alongside our core community on our community development work, and learn together through an embodied curriculum. Interns are expected to contribute an average of 20 hours of work per week for *cino. Interns can also work up to 20 hours per week at local partner farms in the area to earn additional income. Here are the practical benefits of the internship:

  • Housing
  • Living stipend (up to $1,000)
  • Up to $2,000 at partner farms

If you have an interest in farming and gardening, planning special events, communications and promotion, or small business, read more about the intern positions we’re looking to fill this summer. Do you have a different set of skills that you think would benefit *cino and Three Rivers? Apply! Want to know more about what *cino interns actually do? Read reflections from last year’s interns: ChelseaLauren O.Lauren A.Tess, and Aubrey.

If you have have any other questions about the internship, please peruse our Internship FAQ or get in touchApplications are due April 30!

We’re also excited to announce our Yearlong Residency Program! Start as a Summer Intern and then continue as a member of the *cino community until the following summer. This program is a unique opportunity to experience the rhythm of intentional community throughout the year, allowing for deeper engagement with our neighbors and with the work. See our Residency FAQ for more information.

Send us an inquiry if you’re interested in our Yearlong Residency!

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Education, Hospitality, People, Rectory Stories, Three Rivers

Food and community: Chelsea’s reflection

We asked each of our 2016 summer interns to respond to their time in Three Rivers. Below is Chelsea Smith’s reflection:


My summer in Three Rivers gave me a glimpse into community life and left me eager to experience more. During my time with *cino, I stepped into a community that overflowed with creativity, joy, work, and rest. My role in the community manifested itself in many ways, mostly revolving around time and food. I grew food, cooked food, and shared food. I co-planned community events and enjoyed time with community members.

In college, I studied community development, so I came into this internship with some expectations of what I would learn and do. In many ways, working with *cino exceeded and reconstructed those expectations. Prior to this past summer, I would have said that I desired a lifestyle without rhythm and regularity. I liked switching things up and not falling into the same weekly routine. But I have grown to miss Monday night gatherings at the Riv, Tuesday “Garden of Your Mind” meetings, Wednesday communal work and pizza nights, etc. I realized during my *cino internship that rhythm is a sacred part of community. Gathering together regularly and sharing time (and food!) together is essential for building relationships and connections, especially when spending time in public spaces. These predictable gathering times were refreshing and restful times of my week.

When I studied community development in school, I dreamed of an exciting life as a “community developer” (or however that work would manifest). I thought the day-to-day life would be filled with inspiring actions, important decisions, and influential conversations. I learned this summer that those things do happen, but much more sporadically than imagined. The day-to-day role is filled with smaller moments of connection, commitment, and creativity. The details matter much more than I realized. Somewhere between planning kids’ crafts, cleaning the soon-to-be wood shop, and sewing countless feet of bunting, I discovered that there’s a sacredness in the details. After all, it’s the details that make the larger picture come together.

The connections I made during the ten weeks in Three Rivers were richer than connections I halfheartedly formed over double that amount of time. I felt more present working with *cino, where my priority was to invest in the community. This reflection was somewhat difficult to write, because I don’t feel like my time in Three Rivers is over. There is more to learn working with *cino, and I am still processing the impact of this summer internship. I am filled with gratitude for my experience in Three Rivers and still feel connected to the rich community there. I have a feeling this won’t be the end.

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*cino Work, Organization, People, Three Rivers

Come and see: Lauren Anderson’s reflection

We asked each of our 2016 summer interns to respond to their time in Three Rivers. Below is Lauren Anderson’s reflection:


It is so interesting to look back and think that the first time I learned that *culture is not optional even existed was nearly one year ago. I was introduced to this community when we at the Service-Learning Center at Calvin College began our annual training with an overnight retreat to Three Rivers in August of 2015. After that initial introduction, I was enthralled. It was the first time I witnessed young adults choosing to live radical, counter-cultural, creative lives that were inching towards something so much greater than their personal or family benefit. The people involved with *cino are interested in a much bigger picture of shalom, which includes the wellbeing of the Three Rivers community.

When the call for spring break trip leaders went out and there just happened to be a trip to Three Rivers, you can imagine my excitement for another opportunity to be near such a life-giving community. Then, while on spring break, I learned about the summer internship with *cino. The more I prayed and let the idea bounce around in my head, the better I felt that this was the place for me this summer.

Looking back, I have not been disappointed. Especially after a difficult year of school, I am very grateful that I was enveloped into such a tight-knit community of visionary, educated, earth-loving, and people-loving human beings this summer. One part I appreciated was the unique rhythm of work and rest here; I even found some of the work to be restful in and of itself. Weeding, painting, and harvesting were all tasks that kept my hands busy, but gave my mind the freedom to pray, ask questions, and dream — something often forgotten in the busyness of the school year.

The hardest part was conveying to others unfamiliar with *cino both an accurate and a concise snapshot of my summer here. Lumping the summer into the phrase “community development” is true but also is vastly incomplete. Yes, I have had the opportunity to live and share daily dinners with seven other beautiful humans. Not only that, but I have also participated in “Garden of Your Mind” meetings to discuss and live into *cino’s core values; I have helped coordinate Community Fun Nights and Summer Lunch volunteers. And as Huss Future Fest rapidly approached, I was able to help beautify the photo booth, make a display of all the photo booth props, help with signage, and help with whatever else needed to be done.

The best explanation I have is one I learned from Jesus, which has also been implemented by other good teachers: come and see. Come for a potluck; come to a work day; come to the Huss Project; come to Future Fest; come to Three Rivers. Come and see for yourself the ways the upside-down kingdom is evident here in this beloved community. Come.

 

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*cino Work, Organization, People, Three Rivers

A full plate: Aubrey’s reflection

We asked each of our 2016 summer interns to respond to their time in Three Rivers. Below is Aubrey Laubenthal’s reflection:


When I arrived, it was instinctual for me to go into a state of stress and anxiety about nearly everything to do in the summer ahead. However, I now look back and find that there was an incredible balance of sweat AND play, elbow grease AND rest. In the midst of busyness and mess, I found myself stable and determined. The ever-so-brief amount of time that I spent in Three Rivers was unexpectedly full and uniquely good. I found myself surrounded by people who pour themselves into each other, their work, and this community. I experienced the unified mission of neighbors who collaborate. I couldn’t have made it through the summer so peacefully and joyfully had it not been for the beautiful community here, especially my fellow *cino friends. I learned so much about committing to a place and pursuing good things by doing good things. That includes eating good things… a LOT of good things.

Living with the other interns, I noticed and appreciated each person coming with amazing passions and quirks. Each person taught me something valuable, which I believe will increase in value as time goes on. I saw how to be shameless in the unconventional, vulnerable in receiving, cheerful in the mundane, humble in boldness, adventurous in the rain, and genuine in honesty. Today I am thankful for it all, and someday I will be more thankful than I could today imagine.

There is something simple here, and there is something deep here. At *cino, there is no static or lukewarm. There is heart, mind, soul and strength, all woven together in a really cool tapestry which is continuously being sewn. So as brief as it was, I leave knowing that the impact we shared was anything but brief. My heartfelt thanks, everyone!

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

A sense of place: Lauren Otto’s reflection

We asked each of our 2016 summer interns to respond to their time in Three Rivers. Below is Lauren Otto’s reflection:


How can I possibly explain how my internship changed my sense of what “place” means to me? Place used to be simply a collection of geographic data. My home town of Newberg, Oregon is not so different from Three Rivers, Michigan if you describe it geographically. Both towns are distinct for being centered around waterways and railroads; both have a manufacturing history and are surrounded by farmland; both have historic theaters, local watering holes, and a handful of residents usually described as “characters” (although that is often not a fair description).

Three Rivers had so many geographical similarities to Newberg; the only difference was that it was a new place. Despite this sameness, uprooting myself and moving to a new place made me reevaluate. And yet, in Three Rivers I felt a connection to its landscape, places, and characters. This was novel, since I regarded my own town with affectionate apathy. Three Rivers was not my town, but it was a town that embraced me with such kindness that I wanted to move there immediately and settle there forever.

This left me wondering what on earth my town was doing wrong to make me feel so ambivalent towards it. But as summer went on and I kept spending my days working in Three Rivers, growing food, playing with kids, and interacting with the local communities, I realized that the problem was not my town: it was me. My town has good communities, it has gardens, it has characters, but none that I invested in. My internship has prepared me to connect with a community and build relationships. At home, I had to work at it, and I had failed to invest in my own community and as a result had not reaped the benefits of a connection. I resolved to go home at the end of the summer and approach my town with new eyes. I would not look at my place with apathy, but would resolve to work in it and for it, for its good and my own.

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