Day Twelve: Vertigo Eco Arts Village and Amirim

We stayed the night at Kibbtuz Revadim, so Jerry could visit with his sister, a sculptor on the kibbutz, before she flew to upstate New York and her summer job at an arts camp. Then we drove back toward Beit Shemish and stopped at Kibbutz Netiv HaLemad-he to visit with the founders of Vertigo Dance Company and the Eco Arts Village. It’s a wonderful project they’ve created—out of old chicken houses. They convinced the kibbutz to rent them the space, and now they use it for rehearsals for their dance company, complete with a kitchen and eating area, clay-walled resting rooms that can be used for overnights. Everything is design to be eco-friendly, with compost toilets, grey-water reuse, solar energy, etc..
We got to watch the rehearsal of a mesmerizing new contemporary dance that the company is working on. They also hope to rent out another chicken house and use it for the visual arts in a similar way. The co-founders described going door to door to dozens of kibbutzim between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, looking for a space and a community interested in joining in their vision. Netiv HaLemad-he is privatized, so the kibbutzniks welcomed the income of new tenants, but they also liked the cultural aspects of the Eco Arts Village—that it wasn’t just dropping a McDonald’s on kibbutz property. (We would see one of those later in the day, at Gan Shmuel.) As one member told us, “It’s the best thing that has happened to the kibbutz.”
The biggest danger in Israel these days, I already knew, isn’t from terrorism, but rather from road accidents. (In fact, during our visit, the son of a supreme court judge was killed by a drunk driver while cycling on the highway.) Everyone told us to drive safely when we left. Alas, the biggest danger—at least to our rental car—wasn’t from speed-mad Israeli drivers but rather from a rusty Canadian one. Jerry managed to guide us through the rush of traffic that crosses Tel Aviv everyday, and we switched seats at the mall at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel. I managed to get us all the way to the quirky hillside village of Amirim, a collection of guest houses, restaurants and various new-agey outfits based around a vegetarian philosophy—and then promptly scraped the hell out of the front bumper while backing into our parking spot. Oops. That took a little luster off a good day of travel and meetings. If that’s the worst accident on this busy trip, however, I will be thankful.