*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Tiffany

This week we are continuing to introduce you to the newest members of our *cino community. It is our hope that you will better understand what drives us towards doing this work by getting to know our staff members.

Next up is Tiffany Chiang.

Tiffany, a native of Kalamazoo, developed an interest in being an AmeriCorps Summer Associate after her friend and current *cino AmeriCorps Staff member Jeff Torano,  told her about the great work the organization was doing.

After graduating college, Tiffany was confused about what she wanted to do with her life. She was interested in working outdoors and with other people so the opportunity to work at The Huss Project seemed like a perfect fit!

“Jeff was actually the one who told me about CINO! After hearing about it from him I was interested in learning more and found the Huss Project home page. It seemed like a community that I would fit well into and I was really interested in learning more about how an urban farm actually runs.”

In her free time Tiffany enjoys spending time outside hiking, playing piano, working with ceramics, and rock climbing.

We can’t wait to hear more about her experience at the end of the Summer. 

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*cino Work, People

Welcoming New *cino staff: Jaz

With the start of Summer comes beautiful, new opportunities to build community and grow our organization. This year we welcomed three AmeriCorps Summer Associates to help maintain our flourishing urban farm at The Huss Project. This week we want to introduce you to one of them.

Jaz Popa, originally from New Jersey, has called Michigan home since college. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Food Systems. Her passion for farming, specifically urban farming, came after taking a few classes in food systems and seeing the need for a major societal shift in the way we approach food.   

She decided to join *cino for the Summer because it aligned with her pa

ssion for helping others  as well as “to help provide food insecure community areas with fresh,  healthy food and increase food access / knowledge.” 

Jaz also felt that the opportunity to work with AmeriCorps would provide her “a way for me to get involved in my neighboring communities to work on preventing poverty through food access”. 

When she’s not saving the world from hunger, Jaz loves visiting the beach and her family in New Jersey, growing her own food, and painting. 

We are so thrilled Jaz has joined us for this short season and we appreciate the dedication she has already brought to her work at *cino.

Stayed tuned for more introductions of the new *cino staff in upcoming weeks!

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*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.

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*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.

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*cino Work, Hospitality, Leadership, People

Growing our community safely in a pandemic

In mid-March, as Michigan pulled together and hunkered down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, our *cino crew was watching and waiting to see how our plans to welcome new people into our community this spring might change. We had a couple from Vermont planning to move into our new caretaker’s house, and we anticipated hiring seven new AmeriCorps partners—three year-long VISTAs and four summer associates—with several of these folks moving into our community house. With everything changing so fast and a growing awareness that the situation would continue for many months, we had no idea what to expect.

We continued our recruiting and hiring processes and eventually, AmeriCorps confirmed our May 11 start date for our new VISTAs. We were super excited about the three folks who agreed to join us, but how could we form a new household safely? And what would we do about the summer folks starting June 1?

So we started gathering the best, most reliable information we could and came up with a plan that we feel very good about. Because we’re a very visible group of people and because we want to maintain a sense of transparency and accountability with our broader Three Rivers community, we want to lay out some of the details of our plan.

  • As of March 16, all members of *cino’s four community households began practicing self-isolation, with distancing and other safety practices for any essential trips outside the house.
  • Thanks to adaptations allowed by AmeriCorps, our *cino staff began working remotely and our weekly community meetings shifted to video. We pivoted our work to support the acute needs of our local community with resources like emergency assistance information and free vegetable seeds.
  • When Dan and Margaret traveled from Vermont and moved into the Huss Caretaker’s House in mid-April, we welcomed them from a distance with a housewarming gift and video gatherings, while they spent their first two weeks here in self-isolation.
  • Our May 8 going-away party for two of our community house residents was a multi-faceted, creatively-distanced affair, with ways to participate by mail, text, e-mail, drive/walk/bike-by, and video. (We heard from several folks that it was the best going-away party they’d ever “attended,” so those of us who are trying to figure out how to do grad parties, showers, and so on this spring and summer: it is possible!).
  • New AmeriCorps VISTAs moving into the community house on May 9 self-isolated for two weeks prior to moving into the house.
  • As of May 9, the *cino community house at 208 N. Main Street started a “reset,” with the new group of residents self-isolating together for two weeks to establish a new primary household. During this two weeks, we’re conducting an orientation program through video and outdoor, physically-distanced points of connection.
  • For the foreseeable future, any new residents of the community house will self-isolate for two weeks before joining the household.
  • Our summer work is shifting almost entirely to fresh food production and distribution, so labor will be outdoors as much as possible with collectively designed safety practices based on the relationships among the individuals working together.
  • We’re working on a visual model that will help us all understand how we relate to one another practically and emotionally to support one another’s physical health, as well as the health of our relationships.

So why are we sharing all of this? Well, one of the challenges of this time is managing our feelings of anxiety, fear, and judgment, no matter our opinion of the pandemic response. We see a group of people gathered outside a house, clearly not residents of the same household: are they blowing off the rules? We see someone wearing a mask driving alone in their car: are they just trying shame me for not wearing a mask on my walk? In a time of such remarkable instability and uncertainty, judgment is a natural impulse, but we can practice giving the benefit of the doubt, asking genuine questions, and offering transparency.

We want our neighbors to know without a doubt: our *cino community is taking this thing seriously in the interest of supporting the health of our vulnerable family members, the essential workers with whom we come into contact, our partners at the Huss Project, our local healthcare workers—all our neighbors! When you see us out and about in our neighborhoods, working at the farm, staffing our new Saturday market at the Huss Project, we want you to know we’re taking good care for you, for ourselves, and for all of us.

Even though we’re tired of it already…

Even though the degree of risk is low…

Even though we’d love to hug our friend who’s moving across the country after two years here…

Even though we’d much rather get back to normal and throw a big party…

We will continue to practice intentional safety measures as long as we need to for the sake of public health and the common good.

If anyone ever wonders where we stand and what we’re doing to be safe together, please don’t hesitate to ask. This is going to be a long haul, friends, and we’ll get through it best with shared information, grace, transparency, and mutual respect.

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Uncategorized

Welcoming our new Caretakers at Huss!

We’re so excited to announce that our new Huss Project Resident Caretaker positions have been filled by the lovely Dan Truesdale and Margaret Wenger! Dan and Margaret will help us significantly in our efforts to build capacity at The Huss Project and The Huss Project Farm. They will be the “eyes and ears” of event and farm operations here, and will play a critical role in working with AmeriCorps volunteers over the course of the year. We’re so thankful for the support they’ve already provided this week as we’ve begun planting at the farm.

Margaret was raised here in Three Rivers and has been a long standing member of the *cino network. Dan grew up in the Chicago land area and has had significant experience with farming and community work in Georgia and Missouri.

“We’ve been enjoying settling into the neighborhood and starting to work on the farm and other projects at Huss,” they noted. “We’re glad to be returning to Three Rivers and look forward to putting down roots in this community as we work and live alongside those in the *cino community.”

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

Three opportunities to join our work and community!

The past year has been a time of incredible growth for our organization, and we are thrilled to be recruiting folks to join us in our work here in Three Rivers, with three different levels of commitment. Whether for ten weeks this coming summer or for an open-ended period of time, folks will join the work of a friendly, passionate community of people collaborating for flourishing in our small, beloved, rural city. Read on for a quick snapshot of each type of position, and please help us spread the word!

 

Ten weeks: AmeriCorps Summer Associate (4 positions)

• Application deadline: May 1, 2020

• Dates of service: June 1 – August 9, 2020

• Summary of work: Educational programming and physical labor in support of Huss Future Fest (July 25), the Imaginarium, and Huss Project Farm

• Weekly commitment: 36 hours

• Compensation: Living allowance of ~$2,350, plus an educational award of $1,311

• Further details

• Apply here!

 

One year: AmeriCorps VISTA (3 positions)

• Application deadline: April 1, 2020

• Dates of service: May 11, 2020 – May 10, 2021

• Summary of work: Building organizational capacity through research, program development/evaluation, resource-building, and communications

• Weekly commitment: 40 hours

• Compensation: Living allowance of just over $12,000, plus educational award, health insurance, and optional reduced-cost housing ($250/mo.)

• Further details

• Apply here!

 

One year and beyond: Huss Resident Caretaker

• Application deadline: March 15, 2020

• Dates of service: Move in by May 1, 2020

• Summary of work: Building and seasonal outdoor maintenance at *cino properties, plus hospitality and community-building with Huss neighbors

• Weekly commitment: 15 hours (with optional paid additions)

• Compensation: Housing and utilities

• Further details

• Apply here!

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*cino Work, Building, Education, Event, Organization

Accepting applications for FOUR AmeriCorps summer positions

*culture is not optional (*cino)/The Huss Project is looking for four compassionate, creative, hard-working people to join us full-time for 10 weeks this summer as Americorps VISTA Summer Associates! Applicants should be 18 years of age or older, with a passion for serving our Three Rivers community through urban farming, event planning, and youth engagement. The term runs from June 1 – August 9, with a living stipend of $2,395.40 and choice at the end of the term of an education award of $1,311 or a cash stipend of $345. Housing is not available for Summer Associates. Applications are being accepted until May 1 or until all four positions or filled, so apply today through the AmeriCorps web site!

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*cino Work, Leadership, Organization, People

NEW! Huss Project Resident Caretaker Position

A big piece of the future vision for the Huss Project is to have living space for a residential community. Though this goal is still a long way off, we’re very excited to announce a new resident caretaker position.

The caretaker (or caretakers) will live in a sweet, small house just to the south of the Huss property in exchange for taking responsibility for a variety of everyday tasks around the property throughout the year. Based on skills and interests, there’s also an opportunity to take on additional roles with our urban farm and/or the Imaginarium event space.

Visit our position description page for more information about the position and details on how to apply. Applications are due by March 15, 2020. We are very much looking forward to growing our intentional community in this new way and hope you’ll help us spread the word!

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

Apply now for our 2020-21 full-year AmeriCorps VISTA positions!

We are now accepting applications for three full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions. We’re looking for folks who will help us take our work to the next level in the areas of food systems, education, and economic development through the Huss Project, World Fare, and other partners in Three Rivers.

Experience with activities like social research, community development, event planning, education, program development, volunteer coordination, permaculture design, food systems, non-profits … these are the types of things we’re looking for in people who will thrive collaborating at a high level with a grassroots org in a funky, small, Midwest city. We’re looking for people with solid enough experience to function as peer collaborators in creative design toward significant community outcomes, in a spirit of curiosity, joy, and accountability. Here are four words that are floating around for us at the moment as we search:

  • Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Detail-orientation

Visit our listing on the AmeriCorps site to submit your application. Applications are open until April 1, but we’re looking to fill these positions as soon as possible to allow our VISTAs to plan for a May 11 start date. The compensation package includes:

  • A living allowance (just over $12,000/year)
  • An educational award (or end-of-service stipend)
  • Health insurance
  • Reduced-cost housing ($250/mo. including utilities)
  • Other benefits

Thank you for your help in spreading the word and please let us know if you have any questions! We’re really looking forward to this next phase of our community’s work in Three Rivers.

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