The road to a space: Michigan

Categories:Story
Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Continued from “The road to a space: early conversations”
Kirstin and I moved to Three Rivers soon after we officially began *culture is not optional and found ourselves falling in love with a beautiful small town filled with a diverse group of amazing people. We knew that this place was going to be a big part in our lives, particularly when we, with the help of many good friends, started a fair trade store in the historic downtown district. We were becoming rooted and, because Kirstin and I attended to most of its day-to-day activities, so was *culture is not optional.
While we were living in Three Rivers, we quickly became friends with a number of pastors from different denominations. They were all eager to work together and many found *cino resources very helpful in the process. Again, it seemed like it would be great to have a neutral space where people of faith in the community could come together to learn, grow and serve together.
Thankfully, though, we were not able to take the straight road to where we thought we were going. Kirstin and I, in need of gainful employment, moved to Grand Rapids to share a wonderful position at Calvin College in the Student Activities Office. Grant began working as an adjunct faculty member in the philosophy department at Trinity Christian College. More and more, the people who were guiding *cino’s work were involved with high school and college students in some way. We quickly realized that our organization needed to involve students; however, we were constantly frustrated that we could only invite them to read catapult or attend a yearly camping trip. We recognized that the best learning and discipleship happened in informal conversations over meals or coffee and that these conversations are often difficult to have online. It seemed that it would be ideal to have a space to which we could invite students, whether in high school, college or beyond, into a communal living/learning experience.
At another visioning session at the end of last year, Grant, Kirstin and I got together to discuss the future direction of *cino. Though we hadn’t been able to spend much time with one another during the previous year, we had all been feeling an inclination toward a physical space for *cino. A building could allow *cino to be rooted in a place, ideally allowing it to serve several groups with interweaving programming options–some of which we’ve outlined on the vision page of this web site. Given Kirstin’s and my commitment to Three Rivers, it seemed to be an ideal location to begin looking–though we weren’t seriously on the market at that point.
Then, on a lark, I was looking up Three Rivers commercial real estate online (for something else entirely) and found that Huss School was on the market at a very reasonable price. Though we were a bit hesitant to consider the idea, we went and looked at the property to see what might be possible there. After our visit, it seemed that one opportunity for a *cino space was sitting in front of us and we needed to fully explore it.
And that winding story is how we arrived at this campaign. I hope you enjoyed reading (at least part of) it! 🙂