Visiting Israel and the West Bank– the Vision and Reality
By Sophy Banks 16th April 2014
On 3rd April Naresh and I ran the first Transition: Launch training inHaifa. Around fifty people attended; a mix of activists from environmental, social and community projects. We mapped out our geographical spread, ranging from the north to south of this small country –and included someone from North Carolina,USA. We also stood in rough order of age – which spread from the youngest, around 18, to the elders, in their 60s and 70s.
Our visit included other meetings – a day with members of the Urban Kibbutz movement in Beit Shemesh to explore at the Kibbutz movement and Transition, and models for understanding change. We spent a day in Bethlehem with Palestinians working for peace, for community and ecological well being. We visited people working with communities to create gardens, wildflower meadows, composting and other schemes which linked neighbours, schools, and other organisations. I delivered an Inner Transition workshop to a masters programme at Tel Aviv University.
At the end of the trip Yoav, one of the Israeli hub representatives and the main organiser, shared the vision he had created to help him to shape and coordinate the visit.
Yoav’s Vision for the visit
- Have a Transition Launch training that will push forwards as many activists to start Transition Initiatives inIsraelwithin a year.
- Put Israel on the world map of Transition.
- Enable local knowledge to be contributed to the global movement.
- Create an event where the journey tells the story of the content.
- Share Transition with those creating this new world of mutual help, collaboration, and localism.
- Build a web of activists with a common language.
- Naresh added – to inspire people to join this movement understanding it’s a world wide network.
From the Israel Hub’s perspective:
- To promote the shared Translation project (translating Ingredients from the Transition Companion into Hebrew), creating new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.
- To increase awareness and recruit more help and resource e.g. build up a website or design a logo.
- Strengthen the connection to Transition Network.
- To manifest Transition in Israel, by offering deeper learning about the movement and initiatives, and how they can contribute local knowledge to the network.
- For Transition Initiatives in Israel:
- Support existing initiatives, promote the start of new ones within a year,
- Choose location of workshop as a partner – it will help promote a specific initiative.
Going through this list in our debrief Yoav felt he could tick all – except those which will take a year to know (to start new initiatives in Israel!). I felt how Yoav’s qualities helped create this rich harvest from such a short trip. These are some of those qualities, which I see in many leaders of successful projects, initiatives and national organisations within Transition –
- A calmness and ability to work with others even when their culture, language or perspective was very different to his.
- To use social media, such as asking us to make a mini-video before we left which he posted on Facebook – making it easy for his connections to spread the word.
- To see how multiple outputs could be harvested from each event – when we visited projects he encouraged our guides to invite other organisers, to visit partners and make introductions – giving partners a chance to talk about their achievements, and to see the local projects as part of an international context.
- Finding questions and conversations that interested other organisations so that we could share our enquiries and learn from each other – For instance, What can the kibbutz and Transition movements learn from each other? What are our models for change? How do we understanding ‘scaling up’?
Part of the impulse to create a national hub in Israel came from Deborah Heifetz, who visited Transition Network in Totnes with her partner and then went back to Israel keen to support something to manifest. Yoav started the first Transition Initiative in Tivon as part of his masters degree. Together he and Deborah started the Israeli hub, taking on tasks such as creating a website, giving talks and translating the ‘Ingredients’ from the Transition Companion.
Back to the Launch training, I was really impressed at the depth and range of knowledge and wisdom present in the room. Unusually, few people seemed interested in “peak oil” – the country seems very aware of water scarcity, but not of its total dependence on others for fossil fuels. And as Naresh has commented elsewhere, there are basic solar water heaters on nearly every older building (it was compulsory for buildings of 4 stories or less), but very little solar PV, and no wind turbines. Is it helpful to start a conversation about energy security here? I remember what an impact it made on me to hear Rob talking about how deeply he had been affected by learning about peak oil, and the sense of that as a disturbance to the complacency in our society back in 2005 when very few were talking about our energy future.
I was also heartened at how easily people put together the need for peace with inner work and sustainability. Especially among the young people gathered I heard no difficulty in linking our inner values, our practices around conflict and peace, with our commitment to social justice and sustainability, and seeing that in the end the are all the same choices and structures expressed in a different part of the human world.
In Bethlehem in the West Bank, and in Haifa we saw again the power of inviting people to vision a world which is better, and then see a step they can take towards it within the freedom and possibilities which we have now. It felt moving to see that this process which is at the heart of Transition can happen in many different contexts and still be meaningful.
Some concluding words from Naresh..
These are a few thoughts that occurred to us as we travelled and met and talked and listened. The outsider is a privileged position, in some ways the innocent lack of knowledge and awareness of the depths of history and culture can make some dynamics more easily seen and articulated. In other ways who are we to ‘pass judgement’? I, Naresh, articulated that in my first post (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/naresh-giangrande/2014-03/transition-trainings-israel-part-1) and after having visited and learned and listened, I still feel there is more that I don’t know than do. But my not knowing is softened by a bit more depth and a deeper appreciation of the paradoxes, uncertainties, and powerful forces that make up theHoly Land. I/we offer these impressions, and hope they are useful.