With everything going on over the past month, many of our thoughts have been turned towards the southern area of Israel and the Negev. At more than 60% of the country’s land mass, however, the Negev desert should really be part of the Israeli consciousness more often.
Community based NGO Shvuat ha-Adamah/Earth’s Promise, based in Beer Sheva (the capital of the Negev), encourages people to not only think of the Negev as a crucial part of the country, but to think of it in a sustainable way.
Shvuat ha-Adamah’s mission is: “to improve and safeguard the quality of Israel’s environment by creating replicable grassroots models of sustainable urban development.” The organization works closely with the community in order to create lasting initiatives, such as community gardens and recycling programs.
Some of their current projects include:
Setting Strong Roots – Shifting the Absorption Paradigm: This program helps the large Ethiopian immigrant community in Beer Sheva with their transition to Israel by building community gardens in unused urban plots. The benefit is both social and environmental – community ties are strengthened at the same time as local produce and plants are grown. (See the photo of a community garden above.)
From the Ground Up – The Greening of a Spiritual Community: This program also integrates the social and the environmental. Shvuat ha-Adamah helps a local Beer Sheva synagogue infuse their events with environmental responsibility, encouraging them to compost (see the picture on the right) and add an element of environmental activism to holidays and bar/bat mitzvahs.
Seeds of Change – Developing a Grassroots Environmental Ethic: Shvuat ha-Adamah fosters the development of young environmental leaders with this program. These leaders serve as environmental role models and create mini composting centers.
Have one of these programs caught your eye? Shvuat ha-Adamah is always looking for volunteers, both in Beer Sheva and abroad.
Read more about the Negev::