Pioneering in a New Age!

Sustainability

   The dictionary offers this definition:

   Environmental Science. The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting
natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.


Wikipedia explains further:

   In ecology, sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.

   Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by definition unattainable in a given time and space. However, by persistently and dynamically approaching it, the process results in a sustainable system.

   Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism.


Permaculture

   "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." (Bill Mollison)

Why am I talking about this?

   To make a long story short, in my numerous searches for information about traveling I discovered a program called Workaway (I've written a separate blog post about it). In brief, the website has a listing of hosts from around the world who are looking for qualified and interested volunteers who will spend a few weeks working in exchange for room and board. To know more about it you can watch this video.

   For my first Workaway experience I applied to volunteer at the Eco-Bayit in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem

Warning: I do NOT recommend staying with this host. That said, please read on! 

   The page on the Workaway site read: 

   Join me in my colorful home located in the most beautiful part of Jerusalem and help me with making natural cleaning and skincare products. Help produce natural cleaning and self-care products, work in the garden to implement rain harvesting and other food forest strategies, create art work, give workshops if you have skills you wish to share....dog walking...

   This was my first ever Workaway experience. Upon arrival I was welcomed into the home and and  offered a nice lunch. The Eco-Bayit is situated in the beautiful village of Ein Kerem with lovely views from the patio. However, sometimes what looks good on the outside is not always the case on the inside!

   I've found it very useful when reviewers remember to comment on the pathway and entrances to places where one is considering staying. Are there many steps to climb, hills, rough pathways... is it close to public transportation etc.?

   Here's a heads-up. The path to Eco-Bayit involves stone stairways without railings or proper lighting, There is a lot of walking up & down hills. This is the nature of things in Ein Kerem. There is a regular bus that will bring you to and from the train at Mt. Herzl if you want to trek into Jerusalem but you will have to negotiate the rustic walk to and from the bus stop. For someone in their 7th decade I suggest you get some heavy training at the gym before coming here! Take note that this hostess never once offered a ride even though she left the house daily for work and errands. 

   THE WORK: We got right down to business. The hostess  showed me around her home  - especially the kitchen - so that I would know how things worked and what her expectations were of me. She instructed me to clean the cabinets and shelves. I appreciated this at first. It was a good way to  learn the lay of the land so-to-speak. However, as things turned out, the "work" described in the ad was somewhat deceiving. Some of my "work" involved the preparation of organic products in that I was asked to clean the recycled bottles used for her products, paste labels on them and then fill them with her potions. I was not included in the actual preparation of the potions. For the most part my position was that of housekeeper, dog walker and essentially, the maid. The hostess almost always left the house a mess and I was expected to clean up after her.  In fact she admitted that she had been brought up in a home that employed cleaning help. Note also that I was only once invited to join her on her outings to help with sales nor did she offer me rides out of the village.

   This hostess is a very committed vegan to the extreme. She made some delicious homemade food that we shared. After all, even though it was against Workaway policy she asked me (in advance of my stay) if I would agree to paying 150 shekels weekly or 25 shekels daily for the food. Since I had agreed then the sharing of food was was a given. However, I was not included in shopping, not asked if there was anything in particular I might have liked to eat, and I was not allowed to eat eggs in her presence (she simply did not like the smell). Clearly I wouldn't bring meat into the house. Instead I admit that I enjoyed occasional outings with my good friends to fill up on some eggs, tuna and meat!


I quickly learned that living a sustainable lifestyle meant relieving yourself in a compost toilet. Toilet paper was available (and I believe it is also compostable) but the use of linen cloths was the suggested preference (Uh... remember those cloth diapers.... ummmm....).


   Using the compost toilet feels very much like pooping in a field. It takes a bit of getting used to. Dumping the waste then cleaning the buckets also became one of my jobs. I suppose one gets used to everything in the end! The Permaculture lifestyle also included collecting the water from baths, dishes and sinks in buckets and then using it daily to water the plants.



     Dog walking was also one of my "chores".  However, it is really up to the dog whether you are the dog walker of choice! It took Luka about a week and a half before he decided I could go out for a walk with him. Another dog was added to the household toward the end of my stay. Louie was just a 5 month old pup - more active then 7 yr. old Luka. Toilet training, however, was not part of his regime, sadly. As a fostered dog he was never properly trained and left us many presents on the floors. I let the hostess know that cleaning up after Louie was NOT about to be one of my "chores. 

   What about the Organic products and the business? 

   The products included: natural cleaning products, sunscreen, sprays (cleaning & mosquito), toothpaste, skin & hair products and more. The hostess actually prepares the various products with natural ingredients and wonderful smelling essential oils. A friend asked me if she is certified and if it is all sanitary? In all honesty I did not ask and so I do not know the answer to that question. However, I will say that I was not coached on using any particular sanitary processes or methods. Nor did I notice any certificates posted anywhere.

  It's important to know that this hostess is an uber social activist on many issues. Usually being active on issues is commendable. Sadly, this uber activist does not allow for views other than her own. I quickly learned to be a listener - especially when the hostess retorted that I was "stupid" because I didn't share her same views on a certain topic. As I said, things that look beautiful on the outside are not always so nice on the inside. Friendly discourse and exhange of ideas would not be the case at Eco-Bayit.

   Additionally the hostess is not really very receptive to anyone else sharing their talents and skills, as suggested in her ad: "give workshops if you have skills you wish to share". She prefers being in the limelight on her own. However, one evening, at one of the workshops she holds in her home, I was able to share an original composition on guitar while another participant read the accompanying poem below. New Moon can be downloaded here.


NEW MOON 

Woman
Moon
With each new moon comes a new woman
Life is a cycle she carries within her
Woman
Celebrate your covenant with God
You are unique and full
As the moon is light in the darkness
Flow with new life of coming months
Moon
Celebrate woman!

credits

c 1983 Ann R.S. Limor aka Rahel (All RIghts Reserved) from Tofa'ah: The Sound of Joyous Song, released January 1, 1984, written by Ann R. Silverman-Limor aka Rahel  Arranged by Tofa'ah


   Would I adopt a sustainable lifestyle? 

        In conclusion, I imagine as with all experiences there were some ups and downs, though in this case the downs may have outweighed the ups? Nevertheless, my time at Eco-Bayit was a worthwhile learning experience. It didn't take long to get into a routine: the daily housekeeping, recycling the water, composting, eating vegan... it's a simple lifestyle really where everything has a purpose and a use. Nothing goes to waste. I liked that aspect of it. Everything seemed to work in a natural balance which is the point I guess!! It's very "Little House on the Prairie", back to the pioneering days.

   As for personality, it is inevitable when living with others that you will not agree on everything all the time. However, once upon a time people with differing views were able to sit down and enjoy a friendly and comfortable conversation and exchange of ideas. That was not the case with this particular hostess. I give a loud warning not to engage. Simply listen.



















Comments

  1. With some modifications, it could be a nice way to live. What an experience and thank you Rahel for sharing it with us

    ReplyDelete

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