“Building Walls – Breaking Walls” is a youth exchange between young people from Switzerland, Ireland, Israel and Palestine. Each year, they are learning on three different places how to renovate and build nature stonewalls:
In the mountains of Switzerland, in the ocean of Ireland and in the desert of Israel.
They learn a traditional and ecological handcraft and create natural walls for the community: A long-lasting symbol for intercultural cooperation and ecological work.
The wall construction is a tool for reflection, discussion and exchange on the topic of walls and borders between the cultures – and how to overcome them.
Furthermore, the participants explore the culture and nature of each place through hikes, excurions and outdoor activities.
The Grenchenberg Jura mountains in the north west of Switzerland are the border between the French and the German part of the country. There, along a huge cliff that overlooks the whole of Switzerland, lies a huge ancient crumbled stonewall.
In the Italian part of Switzerland – the Ticino – are numerous old dry stonewalls. High up in the Alps lies the village of Mergoscia. In the nearby Campo Cortoi are numerous old stonewalls.
With professional stonewalls builders, 16 young people from Switzerland, Ireland/Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine learn how to build the stonewalls and renovate them.
They learn about each others cultures and explore the mountain life and the different regional cultures of Switzerland – an unforgettable week in the Swiss mountains, including hiking, rock climbing and more.
Cape Clear Island is a small island in the far west of Ireland – a 90 minutes ferry trip away from the mainland. A place full of Irish tradition and culture – and with many ancient agricultural stonewalls.
Every year, a group of young people from Northern Ireland, Ireland, Switzerland, Israel and Palestine meet together to renovate the walls and bring down cultural walls.
And every year, they explore the beauty of Irish sea culture and tradition.
Kibbutz Lotan is situated deep in the south of Israel, in the Arava desert. In this dry and hot climate, a sustainable community is creating natural and ecological domes and houses out of mud and sand bricks.
In May 2016, groups Israel, Ireland and Switzerland met for the first time and learned the those building techniques, reached new levels of intercultural learning and experienced the life together in the desert.
This pilot ran under the name “Building Sustainable Communities” and is the start of “Building Walls – Breaking Walls” in the Middle East. More editions with more partners will follow…