In a couple weeks I will begin the last semester of my European Masters program in Madrid. But before I go to Spain, tonight I am going to Tel Aviv, Israel. Much of the media is currently focused on Trump, his Executive Orders and administration appointments that undermine progress, neglect equality and justice. Protestors and a few legislators are voraciously opposing his actions, while many activists (I’m primarily speaking of Black women who are on the forefront and have been resisting oppression in the US for several decades) have been fighting the inequality and inequity in the United States for much longer than the 15 days Trump has been president. 

In the midst of all the negative things happening in the world there are always people and communities who choose positivity and sustainability. In times like this, I wonder if these communities are like bubbles blocking out what they see as negative or if they are like havens reminding people of the beauty in the world or if they are actively creating a safe space as a mode of resistance. A combination of these things is possible as well.

Since the 1960’s Israel has been at the center of a conflict over homeland, displacement, violence and marginalization with Palestinians, which doesn’t seem to be getting better. In fact in many ways it has gotten worse as more and more Palestinians are displaced and violence between Israel and Palestinians, the West Bank/Gaza Strip primarily, increases. Tel Aviv is on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, about 90 kilometers from the West Bank. 29 kilometers from Tel Aviv is Shdemama, a community I will be living with and becoming apart of while in Israel. Shdemama is a community where people choose to live and work towards sustainable practices, mental & physical health, being close to nature, and constant evolution. Their projects and activities include: “a food forest, building an eco-center, monthly swap markets, small agricultural plots & constant experimentation… meditation, yoga, sharing circles,” etc. 

Shdemama is a community made up of people from around the world living sustainably and working together towards a positive-full life. It is in a country where two populations are not able to live or work together and have resorted to violence. A country that continually commits acts of violence and cultural insensitivity, with the United States as a main ally. I’m going to become apart of the Shdemama community to see how, and if, this positivity and sustainability prevails despite or in-spite of the violence happening in Israel (and the world more generally). I will be exploring whether Shdemama is truly an “inclusive” community and if living in communities like this is a solution, or just a place disconnected from the reality of our world.

Resistance comes in all forms and self-preservation, as Audre Lorde stated, is a form of activism. Growing your own food and maintaining emotional health is activism. Yet, is there a balance between being an isolated community that lives in such a positive sustainable way, at the same time confronting injustice directly and passionately? I’m going to try to find out.

World Unwrapped is about continuing to find beauty in the world while at the same time being critical. This research trip to Shdemama will be an exploration of the strength of the values and practices of World Unwrapped, as well as an attempt to find multiple types of solutions to how to resist and fight the continual denigration of humanity currently happening in the United States, Israel, and many other countries with power around the world.

You can follow me on instagram: @misstej and look out for stories about my time in Israel here on World Unwrapped.

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