A Letter from the Authors

   Five years ago, we embarked on a journey to develop a guide to celebrate the heroes and heroines of Palestinian local production. We are two close friends with a passion for authentic produce and local experiences in Palestine, partnering with colleagues and friends at the Heinrich Böll Foundation to map out stories of producers throughout Palestine.

   The guide is not at all intended to be perfect, or inclusive of all producers, or to provide a secret panacea for how to solve failing economic structures in Palestine. The first edition provided a glimpse of hope and pride by seeing and hearing producers’ stories of their intimate connections to their crafts and produce. Today, after five years, we approached the call to update the guide with excitement and nervousness. Our excitement stemmed from the fact that we witnessed, both on a personal and professional level, an increased interest and investment in reviving cultural heritage and traditions, led by creative individuals and collectives. We were confident that this second edition would include so many new producers, many who are young and motivated, and would complement the first edition’s focus on figures who have for decades preserved and protected local traditions. Throughout this edition, you will find a mixture of many young entrepreneurs, activists’ artists, and fresh graduates who defied economic and societal pressure and, with passion, ventured into their projects aiming to preserve cultural heritage while innovating new ideas and concepts. Our nervousness, in turn, stemmed from both having to reach out to many producers who might not be able to contribute to the guide due to illness, old age, and the simple fact that certain crafts may not be produced any more. Coupled with the harsh reality of living under occupation and ongoing settler colonial practices, Palestinian cultural heritage remains under the threat of erasure and theft through cultural appropriation. Many of the initiatives in this guide brilliantly tackle those threats, and forge new ways of preserving our local knowledge, sharing it with the world while investing heavily in transforming local interest in Palestinian production and consumption.

   Many lessons were learned during those five years as well. Most importantly, we learned that while it’s a worthwhile task to define and separate between consumers and producers, it was impossible to fully distinguish or to pinpoint who has more power and influence. In this edition, we emphasize that we are all active citizens, producing and consuming at all times and on different levels, with the roles continuously shifting. Still, we believe, even more than before, that our actions and lifestyles help shape the world we live in. In the first edition, we asked readers to imagine what a sustainable society in Palestine would look like and we still believe it is ‘a harmonious place that respects and preserves its local traditions and crafts, a community that is aware of its actions and influence on other beings, both human and non-human’.

   This edition of the guide is a celebration of great milestones which we have reached as a community. The story of new producers is a story of community triumph in strengthening networks and relationships between producers and consumers, and a defiance of the crippling economic situation we have been drawn into by settler colonial and neoliberal policies.

   The guide also showcases stories of Palestinian producers who stayed in their town and villages following the 1948 Nakba. Their stories carry with them an additional significance as they expose how producers are faced with multiple challenges to keep certain livelihood practices alive and thriving. Palestinians living inside Israel, who make up 20% of the population of Israel are living under a series of racist laws and segregation policies, which deprive them from access to land and its natural resources. However, resilient and beautiful stories of handicrafts, food, wine and cultural heritage projects there only remind us of our roots and shared struggle and how agricultural and handicrafts production is indeed an act of defiance and steadfastness.

   This guide also celebrates the abolition of artificial borders and military lines, where ideas, products and expertise are being shared throughout Palestine and beyond. The aspiration of individuals and contributors to this guide has been to strengthen solidarity economy and knowledge exchange between shopkeepers, farmers, designers, artisans, and artists as an alternative to the fluorescent-lit supermarket full of products of unknown origins. We can claim that we are slowly but realizing that aspiration with the great initiatives, we have included in this guide. However, they are merely a glimpse of the many more initiatives and ideas taking place on the ground in the different neighbourhoods, cities, towns, and villages of Palestine as well as in the diaspora.

   This guide serves as an attempt to document a grassroots movement of change taking place across generations and forums to reclaim our cultural heritage and empower authentic models for resilience and steadfastness.