All Because of a Little (Big) Idea
They live among us. Like most of us they have work, families and a range of daily challenges. But a little idea that sprouted in their minds didn’t let them rest, and drove them to make our life environment more meaningful. At the “Connecting” conference we got to know the people that illuminate and enrich our community life.
In recent years, the region of The Partnership for Regional Sustainability has witnessed a blossoming of community and educational initiatives that have flooded the air and the atmosphere with a wonderful fragrance of change. Active residents are illuminating and enriching the communities with initiatives that connect community, environment and economy; unique projects are being promoted at the regional level; ideas for improvement are germinating and growing; and the councils are connected to the activities and support the work. The Partnership for Regional Sustainability has being working in the region for the last four years. Two weeks ago the “Connecting” conference took place; it dealt with the connections between community, education and sustainability in the region. Educators and community workers who lead inspiring social-environmental initiatives came together on the stage of this conference in order to create more connections between people from the sustainability, community and educational spheres, to learn about new social methodologies and to dream together about the future.
Entrepreneurs active in the communities of the Partnership region moved the conference participants with anecdotes and stories about the initiatives they are leading, which connect education and community. The initiatives, which already seem to have always been here, began with a little idea, which due to determination, belief and perseverance were able to attract many partners along the way and change the face of the region.
One and a half months after Yotam was killed in a tragic accident, his father Nir decided to honour his son’s memory by turning a cooperative bar near Ein Hod into a regional volunteering centre for the entire community in the Hof Hacarmel regional council. Tom Zeig, aged 21 from Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, who spent his year of national service at “Yotam’s Wayside Inn” moved participants with his descriptions of the combination between community, education and sustainability at the wayside inn, which has become a self-sufficient centre of volunteering and community activity. It is even possible to buy second-hand clothing with food products that are distributed to the needy throughout the regional council. The wayside inn hosts hikers overnight for free, supports a range of activities for children on the autistic spectrum, works with children with attention deficit, provides community hospitality and mental support for mentally frail, elderly citizens throughout the council and more.
Einat Lev Ari, an entrepreneur and leader of the forest education initiative that has been operating for over three years in Givat Ada, told participants about the general values approach that creates a covenant between the town and its residents and the forest within its boundaries: a learning programme for preschool and school children, who go out to the forest to study and experience it each week and a range of creative, multi-participant community events that combine enjoyment and brotherhood with rehabilitation and nurturing of the forest. The forest education is based on community leadership and is a source of inspiration for the entire the country.
Ro’i Eilon, a teacher and educator of the “Local Leadership” class at Kfar Galim school in Hof Hacarmel, spoke about his unique classroom that was established this year with the aim of producing graduates with an affinity and feeling of belonging to Hof Hacarmel, motivated and trained to initiate and promote environmental-social issues in the community.
Varda Jubran, Hanin Gubran and Kafaya ‘Amash from Jisr al-Zarqa are leading a community initiative that aims to empower the village’s women while encouraging action and a connection to local heritage. Within the framework of this initiative the women meet for shared learning and action for the village’s environment. They spoke about their two main initiatives. The first – reducing organic waste, and the second – development and establishment of a place (placemaking) for the village’s women and their families, an initiative that promotes community values and values of local sustainability within the area around the Al Shate’a school.
Cami Zarihan Heller leads two initiatives in Zikhron Ya’akov to connect her love of cycling with her desire to contribute to the community: “Renanim Cyclers” – residents mentor boarding school children through challenging off-road cycling, and “Zikhron Ya’akov Circle Route” in which residents plan and establish a cycle trail. Cami talked about the connection between people of all ages in the community and how it is possible to run an initiative lacking financial resources with great desire and energy.
The conference also hosted Tsurit Stern, director of the “Tikkun Olam” (reforming social order) initiative, who came from Yerucham to tell us how a simple little idea can become a great resource for the community.
The open and optimistic atmosphere of the conference reminded all of us that shared action, realization, and a connection between education and community are possible and indeed desirable for the creation of a better community and environment, present and future for us all.
The Conference lectures were filmed and you can watch them here:
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