2015 to 2016
by Mazin Qumsiyeh - http://palestinenature.orgThroughout 2015 we shared with you general news and action items weekly. As 2015 comes to a close, we wanted to share with you our successes in 2015 and our new year resolutions for 2016 as well as our wishes for you.
As you know the biggest project for us in 2015 was the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University. This was the first full year of actual operation and we published many research papers and two chapters in books (and one of my books came out in German), we held a science festival, we had over 3000 visitors, gave talks in Palestine and in five other countries that reached thousands more (our email list is now tens of thousands), built our infrastructure (aviary, a greenhouse, an animal room, new asphalt pavement for driveway and parking, beginnings of a botanical garden, bee keeping, animal room etc.).
We hired two team members (one for outside and one for inside), we contracted a management consultant, we applied for funding (to supplement the start up funds we contributed) and received significant donations in money and in-kind, and we added over 2000 specimens and objects to our collection (for research and exhibit) through field work and through networking (see also http://www.palestinenature.org/achievements-first-year/).
Of course we continue to suffer locally and watch suffering globally and we even lost friends and colleagues. But the best preventive cure for despair is action, and we continue to act.
Our plans for 2016 are even more ambitious and we intend to redouble our efforts and expand (with volunteer and student help). I, with help of my graduate students and guest lecturers will be teaching five courses this spring: in biodiversity (at Birzeit University), in eco-tourism and molecular biology (at Bethlehem University), and in research methodology and in conflict resolutions and peacemaking (at Bethlehem Bible College). My own plans are also to get the two books I have been holding backs finally edited and submitted for publications.
Our plans are to have an actual opening of the museum with exhibit rooms and the botanical garden. Our plans also include doing and publishing new research (on clinical areas like cancer and spontaneous abortion, on genotoxicity of Israeli weapons, on decline of biodiversity, on reptilian biodiversity, on birds, on snails, and much more). Our plans are to do further research and development on permaculture and aquaculture and transfer this knowledge to farmers and potential farmers (even those with only a balcony can do something).
We have many volunteers without whom this would not be possible. But we need many more supporters (time, resources, donations etc.) to get to our goals faster and with less pain. So please visit these links to see where you fit Donations: http://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/
Many other ways to volunteer and help: http://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/volunteer/ and we went ahead and put our video encouraging volunteering on the first or homepage of http://palestinenature.org
Our 2016 New Year resolutions:
We will strive to respect ourselves more, respect others more, respect nature more
We will strive to especially respect women, children, elderly people and handicapped
We will strive to minimize own environmental foot print (reduce, recycle, repair)
We will strive to “think globally and act locally”
We will strive to reaffirm the humanity of all people regardless of their religion or ideology
We will not hate or denigrate anyone but merely challenge oppression
We will refuse to let those who occupy us physically occupy our mind
We will refuse to give satisfaction to those who oppress us by having our obedience
We will strive to love all humans even we do not love or obey their violent actions
We will strive to respect all humans even as we resist the actions of greedy minority
We will strive to honor all lives lost and not just those of the privileged few
We will thus strive to pay more attention to the thousands suffering and dying globally
We will strive to give of ourselves more to help those in need
We will grow more of our own foods
We will work harder for BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions)
We will work harder for ODS (one democratic state)
We will redouble our efforts not only to challenge injustice & war but for justice & peace
We will “comfort the afflicted” and make the privileged greedy a little less comfortable
We will thus redouble our efforts to build even in the middle of horrors *
We will strive to improve ourselves to achieve at least 20% more this year than last
We will use words like “I love you” and “I appreciate you” and “I thank you” more
We will think more positive thoughts and translate them to positive words and positive actions
We will strive to have more “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”
* our own little projects of a museum of natural history and an institute of biodiversity and sustainability in Palestine is one such example; there are hundreds more.
With utmost love and respect and thanks to all colleagues, friends, and supporters of peace with justice.
Have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all who celebrate this or other holidays this season. May 2016 be better for all of us especially those most in need or suffering around the world.
Stay human and come visit us in occupied Palestine.
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University (also Birzeit and BBC)