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How would we spend $500,000? Come hear the answer Wednesday!

Huss visioning 2

Huss visioning 2

As part of the visioning process for the city of Three Rivers, Rob and I did a whirlwind presentation about the Huss Project on February 11.  So many citizens voiced their support for the Huss Project that we’ve been invited back to this week’s session to do a 10-minute presentation on how we’d spend $500,000.  Join us at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 25 at the Three Rivers Community Center (behind the Three Rivers Public Library).  You’ll hear about not only the Huss Project vision, but a number of other exciting projects being undertaken by groups that are working for the flourishing of Three Rivers, and you’ll have the opportunity to have a voice in our community’s future!

In case you missed our February 11 presentation or you want a refresher, here are our notes!


  • Rob & Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma, Co-directors of *culture is not optional, a Three Rivers nonprofit organization that runs the Huss Project at the former Huss Elementary School
  • How many of you went to Huss School as a student or worked there as a teacher? How many have been to the Huss Project for events in the past five years?

WHAT IS IT: *cino purchased the Huss Property in 2009 with the hope of creating a facility that would increase our capacity for imagination in Three Rivers

Programming so far…

  • Storytelling nights
  • Community Fun Nights
  • Summer lunch program in partnership with Three Rivers Community Schools
  • Future Festival, our annual celebration of creativity in our community, including a new partnership with the annual Back to School Celebration organized by Three Rivers Area Faith Community
  • Community Garden, with produce distributed through Keystone Place, Community Kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church, Emergency Care Network, Domestic Assault Shelter and local families in need
  • Service-Learning Experiences

All of these activities have been designed to grow intergenerational friendships and imagination.

  • When we’re friends with our neighbors, we take care of each other.
  • We need healthy imaginations to create positive change in our neighborhood and city.

NUMBERS SO FAR: Since we started programming at the Huss Project in the Spring of 2010 …

We’ve had …

  • 26 interns and volunteer staff from 10 states and 6 countries
  • Over 300 local and nonlocal volunteers
  • Over 2,800 people have attended events at Huss
  • Another 515 have attended Huss fundraising events elsewhere in Three Rivers
  • We’ve hosted over 300 students for service-learning experiences
  • That’s over 4,000 participants!

With financial support from people in Three Rivers and beyond.

  • We’ve raised over $142,000 to date for the Huss Project and the Community Garden
  • Just under $10,000 of that has been grant funding; the rest is from private donors and fundraising activities (~$122,000 in donations; ~$10,000 in fees, sales, etc.)

THE FUTURE: We’ve done all of this with a building and property that has no heat and seasonal running water

We’re ready to do more!

A renovated building will feature…

  • Residential space for a community of students, interns and others working on the project.
  • Community “maker spaces”: a wood shop, a commercial kitchen, art studios, a music studio, a greenhouse, and more.

CITY PRIORITIES: We believe this fits the city’s priorities because …

  • We’re preserving a historic building that’s an important part of our community’s story.
  • We’re serving alongside our neighbors of all ages in the city’s most under-resourced neighborhood.
  • We’re growing imagination, which is essential as we continue our efforts to be a thriving city for all people.

We believe in this project because we’ve seen it working: a nine-year-old kid eating a cucumber for the first time, an adult tasting a fresh mint leaf for the first time, a storytelling night with four generations in the room. We would love your support as we continue to move forward!

Kirstin Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Kirstin is a member of the *culture is not optional core community and is the Head Caretaker at GilChrist Retreat Center.