Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma ’05 to speak about community-building

Beechy Lecture Series & GC Talks: Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma, “Radical Imagination: Dreaming the Future Rooted in Place”
Date and time: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. EST
Location: Virtual: Webinar link | |
Cost: Free and open to the public


Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma headshot
Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma ’05, a community facilitator from Three Rivers, Michigan, and executive director of *culture is not optional (*cino), will present a virtual GC Talk titled “Radical Imagination: Dreaming the Future Rooted in Place” on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m.

A graduate of Goshen College’s peace, justice and conflict studies program, Vander Geissen-Reitsma ’05 was the college’s 2019 Young Alumni Servant Leader Award recipient.

The nonprofit organization that he leads, *cino, is currently focused on The Huss Project, an initiative that began in 2009 to transform an abandoned elementary school in a lower-income neighborhood into a lively community space. In 2018, Vander Giessen-Reitsma’s leadership was crucial in a successful financial campaign for a $50,000 grant to create a renovated, indoor community space at the Huss School called the Imaginarium, which will allow for year-round programming.

“Over the years, I think we as people and as an organization have grown in understanding that the only way to live alongside and serve your neighbors is to do that in the place where you are,” Vander Giessen-Reitsma said.

The Huss Project is a center for building community and imagination through art, food, and play. Rob manages an AmeriCorps cohort and programming at the Huss Project, including an urban farm, a weekly summer farmers market, a summer lunch program, events, festivals, and more. He also actively serves on the board of World Fare, a non-profit, volunteer-run fair trade and grocery store in downtown Three Rivers. Running through all of this work is a theme of imagining and creating spaces where all people can flourish.

Rob lives with his partner, Kirstin, in downtown Three Rivers, part of the traditional territory of the Potawatomi and Peoria peoples.

The Atlee and Winifred Beechy Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Lectureship provides an annual opportunity for the college community to focus, re-examine and promote those ideals through a public lecture by a speaker knowledgeable and expert in peace, justice and reconciliation issues in current local, regional, national or international affairs.