Last Thursday night, an enthusiastic assemblage of over 70 from across the greater Boulder community heard Liora Meron, project architect, who was visiting from Israel, talk about the joint Israeli-Palestinian efforts to clean up the Kidron Valley/Wadi al Nar, and Eric Lombardi, who successfully ran Boulder’s Ecocycle for 25 years, talk about how he hopes to help the program become a model for cross environmental/cultural cooperation.
Before hearing Meron and Lombardi’s presentations, the guests, which included faith community leaders; representatives of JEWISHColorado, and the coordinator of Boulder’s new Fixit clinic, shared their own experiences and ideas in lively conversations.
Sustainable Israeli-Palestinian Projects (SIPP) is raising money to send Lombardi, and possibly other experts, to Israel in October to participate in an environmental conference and to provide expert consulting services on recycling, cleanup and water reclamation to the Kidron/Nar professionals.
The Kidron/Nar runs from the Old City in Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, through East Jerusalem and three Israeli-Palestinian political zones in the West Bank. This was the route that the first inhabitants of Jerusalem took when they came to the city, the shared heritage of three faiths. The early Christian 5th Century Mar Saba Monastery, Nabi Musa (the place Muslims believe Moses is buried), and the City of David all lie in the Kidron cultural basin.
Over a period of five years a joint effort by Israelis and Palestinians — university based professionals and a strong broad local coalition of the population — has fashioned a vision. That vision has grown into a Master Plan for the region and a growing on-the-ground education-based environmental movement in schools and community. Where sewage and waste products extensively pollute the area today, the vision is for an environmentally healthy area, with clean communities, hiking trails, bed and breakfasts, and economic growth.
SIPP organizers believe that this type of cross-border joint effort is the best path to peace in the region, and one that members of the Boulder community from across the political spectrum can support. SIPP sees its current support of Kidron/Nar as but the first of many Israeli-Palestinian environmental projects in the region it hopes to identify and support.
Peter Ornstein, President of SIPP, said that SIPP “has been working to build bridges with Israeli and Palestinian communities on environmental issues” and that the vision contained in the Master Plan shows that “Israelis and Palestinians can work together to improve their common environment, enhance the sanctity of that holy place, and for the overall benefit of all people in the Kidron/Nar water basin.”
For more information about SIPP or to donate to support their efforts, you can visit their website, sipprojects.org where you will also find a link to the Kidron Project website.