Tomorrow, two very different trips will depart for a tour of the Negev. 50 Years ago, it was then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s dream to settle this otherwise dry and inhospitable land. Today, even though hundreds of thousands of people have been settled in the Negev, the desert remains mostly barren. After 1967, much of Israel’s settlement activity shifted to the West Bank and Gaza to the detriment of the Negev. While region is considered economically depressed, the geopolitical realities that Israel has to deal with in the post-intifada era have brought the Negev back into focus as an area ripe for expanded settlement and development.
To that end, the PresenTense Institute for Creative Zionism has invited “social entrepreneurs” to
…enter for a day into the world of front-line social technologies in the Negev… The trip … will enable participants to learn how Israeli technologies are transforming trash into energy and environmentally-aiding elements at the Dudaim waste-disposal site, as well as introduce participants to the new pioneer movement of young social entrepreneurs who are developing communities and creative centers in the Negev.
The same day, an organization called bustan will be running their Negev Unplugged Tour. This tour is meant to focus on the effects of expanded development in the Negev – on it’s delicate eco-culture and on the local Bedouins, many of whom had to be evicted from their homes in order to make way for the social entrepreneurs and their developing communities.
BUSTAN’S Negev Unplugged Tours expose[s] people to the realities of the “Last Frontier” through the eyes of its residents, and leadership. We expose you to industrialists and environmentalists, students and educators, government authorities and grassroots organizers to study the impact of development on the Negev and its people.
I’m pretty sure that the Creative Zionism Trip is full, although you’re free to send them an email if you wish to attend (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you want to attend the Bustan trip, just show up at the Beer Sheva central bus station at 9:30 am and bring 50 shekels for the tour, 25 shekels for the meal and a little extra as a donation. If any of you do go, please feel free to let us know how your trip went!