|Founded by||Reform Movement|
Lotan (Hebrew: לוֹטָן) is a Reform kibbutz in the Arabah Valley in the Negev desert in southern Israel. It was founded in 1983 by idealistic Israeli and American youths who together built a profit sharing community based on pluralistic, egalitarian and creative Jewish values while protecting the environment. The name of the Kibbutz derives from "one of the sons of Seir". (Genesis 36:20) (a descendant of Esau, who lived in Edom nearby. The community is home to over 150 people from around the world including 20 families and their children who are members, rent paying residents, volunteers, 18-year-old Israelis who are volunteer for a year of service and leadership training preceding compulsory national service and other educational groups. Lotan is a member of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the Global Ecovillage Network. Income is generated by growing Medjoul and Dekel Noir dates, dairy cows for milk and goats for cheese production, member’s incomes from work throughout the region and eco-tourism including bird-watching and holistic health – in particular Watsu – water shiatsu – treatments and courses. The kibbutz’s Center for Creative Ecology is an environmental education, research and conservation institution. The Center offers academic programs in conjunction with UMass Amherst and certification courses in Permaculture - Sustainable Design and Training training. The Center’s facilities include and educational, interactive park for organic and urban agriculture, natural building and solar energy demonstrations as well as the super energy efficient EcoCampus – a unique neighborhood constructed from earth plastered straw bales.
Green Apprenticeship program
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The Green Apprenticeship Ecovillage and Permaculture Design course is an intensive 6 week work /study experience run by the Center for Creative Ecology at Kibbutz Lotan in southern Israel. The program offers a highly practically-based immersion into the processes and challenges involved with the design, building and running of sustainable communities, linking together ecological, social, economical and spiritual aspects into a unified whole. Practical skills are developed through hands-on work in the Center for Creative Ecology, one of Israel's largest environmental education centers, organic gardens, alternative/natural building projects and the Lotan migratory bird reserve, complemented by theoretical sessions in topics such as ecological design, permaculture and sustainability.
Students on the course live in the eco-campus — a prototype model for sustainable living that is a learning experience in itself. Living quarters are geodesic domes, super-insulated with straw-bale and covered in earth-plaster, that were built on-site by previous course participants. Passive cooling systems were originally employed but failed to combat the desert heat. Electricity is almost entirely from alternative energy sources. Composting toilets and grey-water systems help conserve water. The daily challenges of living together as a micro-community in this low-impact environment form an integral part of the educational experience of the course.
Participants in the course are also interwoven into the daily life of our kibbutz, an intentional cooperative community based on the liberal egalitarian principles of Reform. The experience and world view of Lotan is used as a case study for focusing on group process and community building. The ideas and ideals behind our way of life and projects are discussed, including talks about kibbutz economics and social structure. Students are encouraged to take part in cultural/religious events on the kibbutz and in the region that occur throughout the program. The Green Apprenticeship also integrates tours to local points of interest, neighboring kibbutzim and other ecological projects, and hikes in the region around Lotan.
Every practical experience during the course is reinforced by formal studies, a holistic link to permaculture ideas, and an opportunity for participants to share their ideas and past experiences to influence our projects. The activities are designed with the belief that an individual can bring these ideas to their own homes and communities, empowering them towards making positive change.
The Green Apprenticeship course is an authorized provider of the Ecovillage Design Education curriculum developed by Gaia Education. The Ecovillage Design Education curriculum is an official contribution to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005–2014 and has the endorsement of UNITAR - United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Gaia Education is a program of GEN - the Global Ecovillage Network.
On successful completion of the course work, participants will receive a Permaculture Design Course Certificate according to the International Permaculture standards, which will be taught as part of the Green Apprenticeship program.
- Carta's Official Guide to Israel and Complete Gazetteer to all Sites in the Holy Land. (3rd edition 1993) Jerusalem, Carta, p.299, ISBN 965-220-186-3 (English) and Bitan, Hanna: 1948-1998: Fifty Years of 'Hityashvut': Atlas of Names of Settlements in Israel, Jeruusalem 1999, Carta, p.36, ISBN 965-220-423-4 (Hebrew)
- Official website (English)