I’m excited (and nervous) to be in transit again, for a two-week research trip in Israel. I’m hoping that my interviews there will cap off all the material I need to complete my book. (Actually, what I need is the discipline—and perhaps a manacle around my ankle—to simply buckle down and finish a first draft.)
The next 14 days promise to be a flurry of travel and meetings and interviews and observations. Some highlights from my itinerary:
- Nes Ammim: A German-run interfaith “kibbutz” that coordinates dialogue workshops and peace-building initiatives. I’m hoping to drop in on a session with Arab and Jewish theatre students from Haifa.
- Kishorit: a former kibbutz that has been transformed into a rehabilitation centre and home for adults with physical and mental disabilities, where they can find meaningful work (including producing a TV show) and community.
- Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company: I had brief visit to the studios and rehearsal spaces on Kibbutz Ga’aton 2.5 years ago, but on this visit I will spend time talking to artistic director Rami Be’er and then seeing this internationally renowned troupe perform in Tel Aviv.
- Ran Tal, the director of the “collage” documentary” Children of the Sun, which weds archival footage of kibbutz children, from the 1930s onwards, with interviews with early kibbutzniks (including Tal’s mother) about the positives and negatives of growing up (and raising their own children) in these isolated and idealistic communal outposts.
- System Ali, a hip-hop collective, with members who are Arab and Jewish, native-born Israelis and Russian immigrants, that sprung from the Sadaka Reut commune that I visited in the summer of 2010.
- Eliaz Cohen, a poet from Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, one of the most historic settlements, who writes verse informed by his deep spiritual roots and his communal home.
- And more…
First, though, I’ve got a 10.5-hour flight to Tel Aviv (with an exit-row seat!), negotiate the 20 Questions of Israeli Customs, grab an hour-and-a-half train ride to Nahariya, rent a car there, and make the short drive (thankfully) to Nes Ammim. The next morning I hit the ground running with interviews and then a drive up north to Kibbutz Shamir. No time for jet lag.
I’ve been a lazy blogger of late, but not because I’ve been ignoring my kibbutz project. Anything but. The last month or so has been a hectic swirl of activity. I’ve been pounding my keyboard to finish a draft of the book by the end of the year. (Increasingly unlikely, although I’m pushing 140,000 words now.) I’ve been preparing for another research trip to Israel, which I’m very excited about. (I leave in less than a week; details to come.) And I’ve been writing and rewriting and practising a talk, linked to my research, for the upcoming TEDxVictoria conference this Saturday, November 19.
The 15-minute talk is called “Kibbutzing Your ‘Hood”. Without giving too much away, I will try to distill the wisdom of kibbutz design—the “architecture of hope” upon which these communities were built—and apply it to our own cities and neighbourhoods in North America. Some of the ideas I hope to bring together and share: the link between kibitzing and kibbutzing; the secret family history that joins Israel’s famous socialist communes and the suburbs of North America; the unexpected social effects of unfenced open spaces; the importance of “third places”; how to calculate your neighbourhood’s “K.Q.”; and how the tools of micro-media can help communities turn positive gossip into enduring myths that will sustain them into the future.
Or something like that.
That’s the teaser. Come on down (I think tickets are still available), if you live in Victoria, to what should be a fascinating roster of speakers and performers and discussions. I’m thrilled to be part of this event—and to sneak a little kibbutz philosophy into the audience’s imagination.
As part of the TEDx mandate, online videos of each talk will be posted. I’ll add a link to my session as soon as it’s up.