catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 4 :: 2013.02.15 — 2013.02.28


Sowing seeds of love and forgiveness

Editor’s Note: The following piece on practicing imagination in Three Rivers, Michigan was assembled as part of a grant application for *culture is not optional, the parent organization of catapult magazineIf you give it a read and see fit to watch our video and vote for our application, you can do so here.

I think the only antidote…is imagination. You have to develop your imagination to the point that permits sympathy to happen. You have to be able to imagine lives that are not yours or the lives of your loved ones or the lives of your neighbors. You have to have at least enough imagination to understand that if you want the benefits of compassion, you must be compassionate. If you want forgiveness you must be forgiving. It’s a difficult business, being human.

Wendell Berry in Sojourners Magazine

Storytelling nights, a community garden, potluck dinners, collaborative murals, kick ball, service-learning groups, an online magazine — all of these activities and more are the soil in which culture is not optional (cino) is planting seeds of imagination in Three Rivers, Michigan.

In the complex globalized context of the twenty-first century, poverty of imagination is an epidemic that is being exploited to the advantage of some, and the disadvantage of others. Economic inequality persists when we can’t imagine a better way to share our resources. Racism persists when we can’t imagine that another person’s story has as much value as our own. We see these global concerns playing out every day in our small, rural city of Three Rivers. Whether in schools or families or impoverished neighborhoods, injustice poisons the soil of imagination, stunting our ability to love and forgive both ourselves and our communities. However, there is great hope for cultivating justice and peace when communities work together to re-imagine a way of life that fosters flourishing for all.

In the midst of an under-resourced neighborhood in Three Rivers, *cino’s Huss Project aspires to be a center for cultivating imagination through cooperation and creative skills. Through special events and programming, we seek to forge authentic, intergenerational friendships around the warm glow of creativity, play and joy. In a marginalized neighborhood within a small town in an impoverished county, it is critical that we work together across boundaries of age, ethnicity, economics, religion and other lines that divide us. In fact, such collaboration might be just the medicine for turning our mourning into dancing. We imagine a future for the Huss Project that includes the mutually beneficial cooperation of non-profit organizations, local businesses and individuals who are not just talking or teaching about love and forgiveness, but embodying these ways of being in all aspects of their shared lives.

Because how much more readily will we forgive our neighbor’s faults if we just chatted while loading the kiln or weeding a row of tomatoes? How much more quickly will we find common cause with our disabled neighbor when we discover our shared love for live music, from bluegrass to the blues? How much more compassion will we have for a boisterous teen-ager when we listen to him at a storytelling night and begin to understand the family history behind his cries for attention?

We, the workers and dreamers of *culture is not optional, can’t wait to find out.

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