catapult magazine blogs: the *cino talks

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November 2011 Archives

Nov
30
2011

All of us *cino staff members have been doing our own informal research and field trips over the past few months. Being invited to speak at the Missio Conference in Cincinnati provided a great opportunity for Rob, Tim (board member and friend) and I to explore emergent church issues and to see what's going on in another neck of the woods.

For the pre-conference, we visited the Norwood neighborhood, where some cool work has been emerging from a Vineyard Church community--gardens, aquaponics, a coffee shop, a retreat center, an intentional community, public park restoration and so on. Our friend Larry, who was our connection to the conference, also operates his many projects out of 1801 Mills in Norwood. Then, we spent Friday and Saturday at a downtown Episcopal cathedral, worshipping, listening to keynote talks and participating in conversations. It was good to be reminded that our project is one of many creative forms of Christian community and that many of these groups share the same joys and struggles.

Below are some of my notes coming out of the conference, including some questions that were raised for me and perhaps worth some more discussion. I'd welcome your reactions and questions in the comments.


  • Is *cino an intentional community based in Three Rivers?

  • We and many of the others we encountered at the conference who are doing work in underserved areas are almost all transplants--how do we move from transplanted strangers to homemaking exiles? Many of the people we met share the challenge of connecting with locals on projects. This presents many problems, but is it just the way things have been and will be (see Jeremiah)?

  • Also, "fresh expressions" (the term coming out of the Anglican church in the UK to describe new forms of Christian community) are notably white and intellectual. What does this mean? Is *cino a "fresh expression" and/or "emergent?"

  • Have we been trying to fund and structure *cino based on an old model of church and institution-building? New communities are supporting themselves through part-time work, micro-enterprise, Americorps positions, etc. All members are living lives of simplicity on less. Some, however, are connected to existing institutions and the old is funding the new (ex. Episcopal Church grant for a bike shop in Columbus). That's not sustainable, but is it a key part of the transition? What institutions are willing to fund the projects that will replace them? Some are, if they're attentive to where the spirit is moving in to the future, rather than self-preservation.

  • The major presence in Norwood neighborhood is a Vineyard Church. Most other projects--Good Earth Farm in Athens, Franklinton (Columbus) group, etc.--are connected to a particular congregation or denomination in some way. *cino has been specifically ecumenical and not connected to a denomination or church, while seeking to connect to congregations in Three Rivers. Is it good to continue this commitment? If so, what is the nature of our relationship with local churches and the Church?

Nov
30
2011

Last Friday, for our catapult issue on the topic of church, I wrote an editorial on why *cino is not a church. Check it out!

Nov
23
2011

In 2009, as we worked through language and communication issues with our board of directors, this piece, which we've referred to as the *cino abstract is something we came up with. It's not a mission statement, but an attempt at a broad description of what we do and how it's all connected. I have to admit: it hasn't grown on me. But I'm certainly open to other opinions. What do you think?

Imagine your life as a map of connections--connections between you and all of the people you've ever encountered. Now add institutions to the map and you've got a pretty complex web of exchanges. *culture is not optional seeks to be a hub in the map of connections, bringing people, ideas and institutions into contact around the basic idea that faith in Christ has implications for every aspect of life, ordinary and extraordinary. Through publishing and events, *cino seeks to tell stories that offer insight and encouragement for those who seek deeper embodiment of Kingdom faithfulness in their households and communities. In this spirit, the bi-weekly online magazine catapultoffers articles, reviews, artwork, poetry, discussion, blogs and more on all sorts of topics. The lovely little road journal collects some of the best catapult content in print form, combines it with organizational news and arrives free of charge in mailboxes around the world four times each year. Topical Road Maps explore a particular area of life such as food or social justice from a variety of angles through essays, art, poetry, resource lists and other means. Gatherings like Practicing Resurrection and ^camping is not optional bring like-minded folks face-to-face to learn from one another and appreciate the revelation of creation in stars, campfires and good food. The Imagining Space project at the historic Huss School in Three Rivers, Michigan is a living workshop that is in the process of becoming a community center and residential educational program for college students and others. Please consider this an invitation to get involved and discover how *cino can become a part of your story's map as you seek the Kingdom of God daily in community with others.

Nov
22
2011

Our final set of word cloud images uses age to divide out answers to our two questions. Here are responses to the first question, broken into three age categories (under 30, 30-49 and over 50):

Under 30: Why is *cino important to you?

30-49: Why is *cino important to you?

Over 50: Why is *cino important to you?

And here are responses to the second question, again broken into three age categories (under 30, 30-49 and over 50):

Under 30: What limits your support of *cino?

30-49: What limits your support of *cino?

Over 50: What limits your support of *cino?

What do you see when you compare the answers among age groups? In our retreat, we noted that people of many ages found something of value in *cino because there are many different ways to connect. What seems to unite our audience is not necessarily an age, but a temperament or a similar range of desires, questions and lifestyle.

Nov
22
2011

Recognizing that *cino has both a local and an (inter)national constituency, one of our visual exercises involved geographically separated word clouds of the answers to our two questions (click the images below for larger versions):

Three Rivers: Why is *cino important to you?

(Inter)national: Why is *cino important to you?

Three Rivers: What limits your support of *cino?

(Inter)national: What limits your support of *cino?

What differences pop out to you immediately? What differences emerge as you spend a few minutes with the images?

Nov
22
2011

From local and non-local supporters of a wide variety of ages, we received 40 answers to our two questions. In order to do some visual reflection work as part of the *cino talks process, we made word cloud images out of the answers. Here are images that include all of the answers (click the images below for larger versions):

Why is *cino important to you?

What limits your support of *cino?

I'll follow up with the images separated by location and age. In the meantime, what stands out to you about these two images? What's missing? What's surprising? How well do these images reflect your impressions?

Nov
19
2011

Welcome to the *cino Talks blog! I'm Stephanie, one of several residents of the *cino community who live and work in Three Rivers, Michigan.

It feels quite remarkable to remember that just over a year ago, a group of college friends relocated from Grand Rapids to this rural small town in southwest Michigan and into the generously shared space of Trinity Episcopal Church's rectory. Although many friends from this initial gathering have since embarked upon other endeavors, ongoing conversations have encouraged other college students and postgraduates to spend some time here in Three Rivers as well. I often recall the particular conversation that kindled this decision to join friends here in Three Rivers; a memory that includes the question, "What if a group of friends decided to move to Three Rivers this summer?"

Nov
19
2011

Welcome to the new blog that will publicly chronicle The *cino Talks, which will be a conversation among staff members, board members and supporters of *culture is not optional. The fruit of this conversation, we hope, will be new statements of mission, vision and core values as well as a deeper understanding of what this organization is and what it's offering to the world. We're making these reflections public as a way of welcoming you in, whether you watch quietly or actively contribute.

Now for a bit of background...