Like the Biodome, only smarter

Ecological sustainability is in our hands. If you're not sure how, read on and attend the Ecosphere.

rimma arslanov 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
rimma arslanov 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Al Gore made the environment as hot as Paris Hilton made the same aforementioned word, well, hot. But in a country like Israel, constantly concerned with security at the expense of most everything else, ecology remains an esoteric subject usually thought about only in regards to the short term. In 2002, Israel along with 181 other countries, signed the UNESCO treaty of responsibility for the ecological future of our planet and our progeny. Yet, today there is still a vast gap between Israel's statements and actions. Niv Zohar Horowitz and Aya Zindel, organizers of Ecosphere, Israel's first green art and environment festival, both hope that the festival's principles will be adopted by society-at-large. This will, again they hope, affect our leaders to act in a responsible way, giving emphasis to the long-term consequences of our short-term actions. The festival's motto is: sustainability - full awareness of humans' responsibility towards Earth and ourselves. Horowitz and Zindel, who arranged for Mifal Hapais (Israel Lottery) and leading Israeli environmental organizations to participate, are calling for an immediate change in the way we perceive environment, society and economy. We should strive for equality on all levels, learning how to live with our surroundings instead of exploiting them. To maintain its values the festival takes place in the enchanting Ein Hod artists' village, located in a Biosphere nature reserve on the slopes of Mount Carmel which, according to UNESCO, embodies the balance between man and nature. The festival itself aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible. As such, recycling bins will be placed around the grounds, the festival will be powered using alternative clean energy and environment-friendly cleaning products will be used. Centered around the modern international art exhibit Al Hamakom (About the Place), which deals with the relationship between man and environment, the festival features exhibits of different types: sculpture, video art and installations. Artists from around the world include such names as Yoko "John and I stayed in bed to promote peace" Ono with "The Wishing Tree," France's Jean Luke Wilmott, Benny Efrat with his work Blond Cows, Avraham Eilat, and the Tav Group. Alongside the Ecosphere, the Eco Park offers children's activities involving theater, art workshops and numerous special activities revolving around ecological themes. Some of the plays to be shown include: Freddy the Frog, which tells the story of Freddy's search for a new home after a mall has been built on his swamp; All Things are Related, about a king that thought he could do everything without considering the delicate balance of nature; and Don Quixote Cycle, a puppet show. Many other workshops and lectures are planned by environmental organizations including Greenpeace, Man and Nature, and Israel's Nature and Parks Protection Authority. Workshops will deal with such topics as composting, maintaining the beaches, living alongside animals, local sustainability, natural energy, medicinal plants, global warming and ecological art. Guided tours of the area will also be available. All visitors to the festival are encouraged to sign the UNESCO treaty calling for the government to maintain its 2002 promises. Ecosphere takes place from April 12-14. Tickets are NIS 20. In an effort to promote eco-friendly transportation, visitors who arrive by train receive free admission. For more information visit MORE ECO-FRIENDLY ART Artezachen (Nehoshet St., Holon; (03) 559-6590), a multidisciplinary exhibition regarding different aspects of home is displayed at The Hava, ecological art gallery in Holon. Artists use materials from our close surroundings to create a surprising human experience. During Passover there will be art workshops with recycled materials as well as a tour of the exhibition. Workshops cost NIS 5. (R.L.)