catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 1 :: 2011.01.14 — 2011.01.27


Ten things for Huss School in 2011

For last year’s Ten Things issue, I created a list of ten things we imagine for Huss School, the property in Three Rivers, Michigan that *cino purchased in 2009 to develop as an intergenerational community and educational center.  In 2010, we started to realize some of those imaginings and you can read about it all here.  In preparation for the new year, here’s a list of ten things we hope to do in 2011, representing both continuity and growth.


1.  Fostering kinship through out of town service groups and a local intentional community.  We hadn’t planned on starting an internship program in 2010, but a number of things converged and here we are, having partnered with a steady stream of friends to seek the welfare of our small city through hard work and creativity.  We were also grateful to a number of service groups who made the trek to Three Rivers to help with such tasks as mulching, ripping out old carpeting, scrubbing walls and carving out new flower beds.  With more interns interested and several service groups already on the calendar, we hope to continue developing the school as a place that pushes service toward the compassionate embrace of kinship.  (For more on kinship as a model for living faithfully wherever we find ourselves, listen to Father Greg Boyle’s talk from the 2011 January Series at Calvin College.)

2.  Inviting the community in for Future Fest 2011.  Future Fest 2010 was a ton of work, but it was extremely rewarding and the visitors to the school that day seemed to be quite excited about the possibilities.  Some have already been talking about getting back in the school again next summer — and we plan to make that happen!  An group of both returning and new organizers will collaborate to dream up the next great extravaganza.  Watch for more details and plan to attend!

3.  Learning together how to grow good food.  Organizers from the community garden already have amazing plans to continue and improve upon what sprouted last year and resulted in over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce for our local community.  Our amoebic garden will grow some more tentacles and maybe have a couple of smaller offspring.  And a personal dream of mine is to turn the tangled, grassy island in the middle of our parking lot into a small orchard…we’ll see!

4.  Preserving the stories of the historic Huss School and the surrounding neighborhood.  A few weeks ago, I was sharing the peace at the church that graciously hosts our interns in their rectory and a lovely older woman in a fuzzy hat informed me as she shook my hand, “You know, I went to kindergarten at Huss School in 1922 when the building was brand new.”  Wow!  In 2011, we hope to continue preserving these and other stories from our historically rich community.

5.  Sprucing up the back yard.  In 2010, we wrested some of the four acres back from the scraggly lawn and we hope to continue that project in 2011.  The broken down institutional image of the chain link fence needs to be removed and replaced with something that bespeaks welcome and creativity.  Our wild area needs native flowers, educational signage and a winding pathway that invites walking and reflection.

6.  Raising some funds through an exchange of gifts.  The folks in our intern house have been dreaming up an exciting virtual event for the month of May that will invite supporters to give of their creative abilities — from handcrafts to services (like making dinner!) — and then to purchase these creative offerings for $5 on up.  We may not have gotten the $50,000 Pepsi grant we all voted for in the month of December, but this event seems like a delightfully fitting way to keep moving forward with the renovation of a space in the school for all-ages arts programming!  Watch for more details and start thinking about what you might be able to offer…

7.  Renovating the kindergarten room for an all-ages arts venue…and more!  Having the keys to such a gigantic building that needs so much work can be overwhelming at times, which is why we’re starting with just one space: the old kindergarten room.  Our service groups and volunteers will be spending quite a bit of time in there over the coming months, creating just one life-sized piece of the overall vision for the school.  You can read more about our ideas for this room here.

8.  Offering regular summer programming for kids.  With or without a boiler to heat the school, there’s nothing stopping us from having fun at the school property when the sun is high and the breezes are warm!  We hosted a few activities for neighborhood kids this past year, both formal and informal, and we hope to offer even more in summer 2011, alongside the growth of the community garden program.  And who knows?  Maybe we’ll have some more activities for grown-up kids as well!

9.  Praying for the future of the school property and our city of Three Rivers.  “Ora et labora” is the motto of the Benedictines — pray and work, as a means to reflective wholeness and an understanding of who we are in relationship to God, the giver of all good things.  Influenced by the life of Christ as well as our own local monastic community at St. Gregory’s Abbey, we will have a time of intentional prayer that will come alongside our daily tasks.  An idea is percolating for a 40-day event joining pray-ers-in-residence with long-distance supporters.  Stay tuned for more details…

10.  Creating a comprehensive plan for the Huss School property.  The time since June 2009 when we purchased the school has been a time of dreaming and listening.  We hope we will continue to listen and dream in partnership with our community as we begin the process of discerning among the possibilities and putting ideas down on paper.  Please let me know if you’d like to be part of this process, by committing to pray for wisdom and imagination, by brainstorming and planning with us in person, by helping with the logistics of next steps, or in any other way.  As Duane Friesen and  Glen Stassen write in Transforming Violence, “When the church seeks the well-being of the city where it dwells, it will be drawn into participation with fellow citizens, from a variety of points of view, in the development of norms and practices that can contribute to the shalom of the city.”  We’re grateful for your support, past and present and future, as we discover what it means to contribute to shalom in Three Rivers, Michigan.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus