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Second Order Change in Agricultural Sustainability: Bedouins in Israel

Project Wadi Attir, a model project, has been conceived and is being implemented in the Negev desert region of Israel that brings together key visionary leaders from both the Jewish and Arab communities and can serve as an incubator for other such projects where resources are limited and communities are under stress. WithSheepIt can be seen as a coherent image of a desired future both for this region, and for other implementations in that it is based on key sustainability principles that reflect total integration of human, social, economic, environmental and ethical systems. Co-Sponsored by New York-based Sustainability Laboratory[i] and the City of Hura Municipal Council, the governing body of one of seven Bedouin cities in the area, the project showcases a comprehensive design and development approach that takes into account the traditional practices of a minority community, enhanced by modern technology and addressing the need to generate incomes within the modern cash-based economy. The project design has been informed by substantive engagement of community leaders led by Dr. Mohammed Alnabari, who is Mayor of Hura, supported with technical resources for agricultural practices, animal husbandry, soil, water, and plant management.

It is located on a 100 acre hilly site approximately 10 miles east of Beer-Sheva. The city of Arad and the Dead Sea are east of the site. The climate is semi-arid, desert type, typical of the area. Water conservation and reclamation is a key factor in the design. The site will be divided into three areas. First, 55 acres will be irrigated for medicinal plants and indigenous vegetables cultivation and pasture for grazing animals. An additional 37 acres will be designated for construction of various facilities for animals, dairy and milking facilities, composting facilities, solar and energy recycling facilities, and a training and administrative center. Another 12 acres will be managed as an open range for animal grazing.

MBEprojectConceived by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, a global leader in cybernetics and systems theory and design, it represents a fundamentally new vision for the future of the region. The project shows how people committed to moving beyond traditional conflict situations can create innovative new solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It is built on an integrated systems approach that applies “second order” thinking to problem solving. First and second order problems were first defined by Watzlawick, Weakland, and Fisch (Watzlawick, 1974). First order change is where we simply do more or less of something we are already doing, without fundamentally changing the underlying system. This type of change is referable. A second order change is where the underlying principals are distinctly different; where there has been, in the words of Thomas Kuhn, a paradigm shift. This type of change is irreversible.

ProjectTeam

The seed of the Project Wadi Attir has been planted. The project proponents are seeking a fundamental shift in the thinking of how to address the centuries-old problems of human and resource management in this volatile strip of land in the Middle East. It is my hope that this second order change is, indeed irreversible, and that the lessons and best practices of this project spread far beyond its original 100 acre site.

For more details on the project, download the brochure.

Reference:

Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J.H., Fisch, R. (1974). Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. New York: Norton.


[i] http://www.sustainabilitylabs.org/