When rockets fly overhead, look down at the grass.

When you’re a news junkie, everything sucks all the time. When you’re an optimist, you’ll never give up reading the news because something good is just around the corner. When you’re both…

After 1.5 years of our co-directors building the 50:50 Startups tech accelerator against the backdrop of pandemic and evergreen conflict, it was really fantastic to be out in person last Wednesday with our second cohort meeting for the first time, sharing energy, putting it all out there on levels – as entrepreneurs, as Jews and Arabs, as virtual collaborators meeting in-person. It was Build the Pitch; read more here.

It would be significant to share this photo about being out and about together last Wednesday. But, you know. This year it’s an even bigger feeling.

In addition to participating in 50:50 Startups as a Board Member and Advisor, this year I am also mentoring one of our teams. I genuinely love what these young entrepreneurs are building – it’s in the health and wellness space – and after months of meeting online for weekly Zoom sessions, finally mingling with team members in-person was really moving.

One of my mentees asked me what gives me energy, what’s my big goal in life. I didn’t know my answer till I said it. Maybe it’s inching closer to 40. Maybe it’s the past year of everything feeling local. But my answer is this:

It’s time for us, on the ground, to see what is already true: life – and impact – come in concentric circles. I definitely did not make this up, plenty of Jewish learning and midrash rattling in the back of my brain here… but we need to see local first, and build out. People give up before they start when it comes to grassroots thinking. What difference can I make? I’m just one person. But we’re making connections to ‘others’ whether we realize it or not, whether we intended to or not – in what we do and what we don’t do.

The longer I have spent in Israel, in this region, in a life impacted by conflict on a bizarre, intense every-day level, the more I realize that my job as an individual is to improve my immediate situation. Be a good person for my family. My community. My workmates. My town. My neighbouring town. My country. This region. The world.

The politicians on the international stage do the opposite. It’s hard to hold that perspective when the everyday is stretched to accommodate the biggest circles first, stretched by the tingling of glory on international levels, fancy signatures, memoirs. Legacy. The grassroots disappears, and rockets fill the air.

But we’re down here – and we can make a difference with – not small – but local acts of kindness, generosity, empathy. Locally, we are powerful listeners. On the grass, we can stand tall next to each other. We can shake hands, we can share stories, we can build something, we can create memories together. And as we build inside our circles, and start to branch out, and locally grows wider, and if we all do this at once – suddenly we’re overlapping, suddenly we’re a movement. We’re people, we’re individuals, we’re partners, we’re in a relationship.

That’s what 50:50 Startups is for me. It’s local. And with years of building, it’ll go further out into the region, sure. It will touch more people, and forge new reasons to partner and create memories.

And who knows where we go from there; our eyes will be on the grass, whether or not rockets still fly overhead.

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