This week has been the last week of our time doing the green apprenticeship on Lotan and our second last week on kibbutz. For me personally it has been a week of reflection about the program , gathering cow urine for some nefarious purposes and working on an assignment we’d been given, previous shnatties have always spoken about their time on Lotan more than anything else in their year. At the beginning of this year our group was the first year to trial a brand new shnat program with the biggest change being instead of working on lotan for 3 months we would spend a month learning about permaculture with practical activities in the morning and in a bomb shelter that doubles as a library and a classroom that is appropriately called the green room as a result of the trees painted on the wall inside. In the afternoon, that’s true permaculture, then spend 3 months in haifa volunteering at a location we were free to choose for ourselves.
As a result of spending the majority of my ‘gap year’ in a classroom setting I’ve been thinking alot about whether I can call this a year off and a holiday or a year on in the most intense year of learning of my life. I’ve loved the green apprenticeship and learnt alot from it but I think our time on Lotan needs to be more. The next stage in my thought process is excitement because Netzer is now re-doing the shnat program again and that opens up the possibility to find a way for shnatties to do the green apprenticeship and then utilise everything we’ve learnt in the bombshelter library classroom while working on Lotan. I can come to a better informed conclusion at the end of the year if I get the opportunity to return for a month of work after our program finishes.
The second thing I mentioned about my week was gathering cow urine, now this part is a symbol for something more than just the stinkiest thing on the planet and the power it holds to make this entire kibbutz smell of cow urine with just one well place bucket. The bucket of cow urine is a symbol for that even though shnatties will be doing the GA from now on and are as a result quite separated from the legacy netzer has left on the kibbutz and the experiences previous shnatties have had you can still share in their experiences and add to the legacy by getting into the traditional prank wars amongst other strange things unique to a shnat mindset like volunteering to milk cows just so you can stand their with a bucket and cheer when one starts to pee as you run over to it with your bucket to collect it and get splash back over your face and arms.
The dreaded assignment, after our 5th month of classroom learning in our final week we get an assignment that our teacher compared to a university level architecture or permaculture design project and it is to design and extensively draw a building and everything around it, map all the relevant weather elements, identify the next 10 years worth of maintenance and have the building run at zero waste once it is built from a combination of trash and natural renewable resources. “ So I did it, improvised some crazy stuff”- Andy Samberg as Connor 4 real ‘finest girl’ The design I chose for this project involved the green room because I talk about it so fondly and how I can make a new and better classroom as far away from it as possible so GA students never have to use it again. I coined this ecological education centre the “ec ec”. For my proposed design I deconstructed the old goat pen and re purposed the metal and straw bails present to in addition with mud build the whole building that also included a see through composting toilet for observation learning a plant library for a reference point for all the different plants you’ll see on Lotan and another aquaponic garden that had one of every type of garden bed we’d been shown.
My conclusion for this week, it’s been pretty great. I’ve learnt how to milk cows test soil from anywhere in the world and figure out how to make it into mud I can build a house with and how to utilise all the grey water from washing machines, sinks showers and toilets for a home garden and been told that my the kibbutz had been wanting to design a new classroom and that my project did a significant amount of the work for them towards this goal.