First Step Towards Change

June 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | Leave a comment
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For my summer project I am partnering up with an older man. To maintain anonymity, let’s call him David. David is a volunteer who organizes one of Beit She’an’s neighborhood councils. A neighborhood council is a body composed of local people who handle neighborhood problems, thereby empowering residents.

For obvious reasons, when starting a community garden, it is important for the “community” to be involved. The neighborhood council therefore serves as a central component in both the planning and execution of the garden. Since David is the coordinator of the Neighborhood Council, he is a key contact person.

At first, David was not overly enthusiastic about the idea of a community garden. He told me that young hoodlums would ruin the garden. He told me that I would not be able to motivate people. In his mind, the effort was destined to fail. Unfortunately, I knew that if David, a key participant, did not have faith in the garden, the garden would indeed fail. His lack of faith and motivation would in turn prevent support in the broader community.

I therefore asked to meet up with David. I wanted him to be excited about the garden. I therefore asked him “regardless of the challenges, what would your ideal garden contain?” David responded that his ideal garden would contain a strawberry tree. After I inquired why David chose the strawberry tree, David told me of his childhood. As a kid, David used to climb over his neighbor’s fence to eat some tasty strawberries. For David, the strawberries were not just delicious; they served as a metaphor for his childhood.

When I told David that our garden could easily have a Strawberry Tree, David was ecstatic. Suddenly, something had sparked inside him. Without being prompted, David began to list all of the delicious fruits that children could enjoy in the park. Ever since that conversation, David has been one of the garden’s most ardent supporters.

My interaction with David is very revealing. Instead of forcing my own vision on David, I let David create his own dream. My goal is not to create my own “ideal” garden. Instead, I hope turn the community’s dream in to a reality.

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