Be Enlightened -visit Lebanon

Our visit to "Lebanon – Be Enlightened" took place in June 2022, when Ivana Petan and BB were invited by fans of Ivana’s ceramics to celebrate life with them. I was able to take time to follow the light in the name of the MEDLand project, and Ivana and I both fell in love with the heartful spirit that goes far beyond and over the limitations of continuous pressure to …for best view use (laptop) computer !

Vladimir & Rafi * Rafi & Vladimir, two friends, two colleagues, two blessed people by their own definition, determined to continue to live in Lebanon and co-create with 30 other people – one of the most advanced landscape architecture Bureaus based on experience and knowledge of integrating and amplifying the energies of place in harmony with being(nes)s that coexist there. 


... differences make us a special team, and this is our strength in a way. We are so different, and when you combine us in a different way, the results can be incredible… I cannot articulate that, but it’s the beauty of this diversity and of the difference…of accepting and celebrating the difference. And really knowing that it enriches everything. It adds a lot. Nobody is perfect, everyone has their flaws. You know, I also I do a lot of unexpected projects – like this one tomorrow: taking coworkers to their parents' house to design and plant a garden there. It just came up. So I take them from work, "leave all your work, come", and then we go have lunch after. And then, as I told you, the beautiful parts are when we get a big important project and we travel in a group of 6-7 people, smaller team from our office, we go experience new place, new culture. We’ve been around the world, from China to Mexico, to Canada, everywhere, we grew up together, we shared life together.

Just to tell you. We are working with some of the most important clients, like Aga Khan Foundation, and we’re working with top architects in the world, top ten architects in the world. So these guys have lots of expectations and very very serious deadlines. Quality of the work has to be… Because you have to exceed their expectations. We don’t only want to meet them, we want to exceed them. And with all this looseness that you feel, we still deliver the best work. I mean, when it’s time to work, we do amazing work, but without forcing anything. I just tell you what is due, when it’s due (date), you agree. I also ask you, you tell me, yes, I can do it in this amount of time. And then, do it. For us, the secret is also you have to motivate them… Not manage them with fear, with force or with a schedule… Every Monday morning, we spend an hour and a half together, the entire team. We talk about every project, every deadline, anyone with any problem will voice it, we’ll see who needs help, we’ll help him, and then we attack.

you can’t live and not feel joy

... when everybody is laughing and happy, when they go back to work now, after lunch, they eat the work. Because it’s not slavery. You gotta live. When you live and you’re happy, you give the best you can, your best. Without anybody telling you to do anything. And life: you can’t live and not feel joy. For me. I keep talking about it in the office. We have to find joy in everything we do. Otherwise, we shouldn’t be doing it. You know, you have one life, and the time that passes doesn’t come back. You can’t go back and bring it back... It’s done! So let’s be happy…


 About the flow of life & work ... 

It comes by itself, the goals or aspirations that I have for myself on a personal level… I just look and then they fit perfectly for the company as well… One way of looking at things, the same interest, the same passion that revolves around nature, and always almost sailing, but not on the sea. Just open up and see where things are going , and it’s very interesting how many different winds you catch, and it takes you somewhere very interesting… So I’m very open... Audio transcript >>>


A "personal project" in Montenegro "started with the idea that I am the client, so I can do it 100% as I see fit... bring together these special energies . That’s number one. And what is also definite for me is that I want people to come all year round to be there. With me, without me, I want it to be a lived experience. And what people...

Audio transcript >>>

RAFI karekachian


About Lebanon ...

Lebanon is the warmth of the people … a life where people don’t fear each other … I’m attracted to smile … We are free people, it’s in our nature … I want to unlearn everything and relearn it my own way … “Lebanon is a message” … a coexistence in a universal sense, not just between humans … our minds must change … Zionist ideology … the system has to change … new laws … go back to human scale … future architecture and its redefinition … bring need and necessity in the equation … vernacular architecture … by talking to each other, a new formula must emerge … It’s tricky, but we shouldn't be afraid of it … I want to challenge …  Audio transcript >>>

I have never found this kind of warmth anywhere else I traveled. so that’s what's most special about Lebanon for me.


... and more about architecture 

… In the past, people didn’t sit in the shade of what they planted. We’re about to lose this concept, altogether.

All these buildings that are owned but nobody is there ...

... The issue of continuity ...

... Life… It’s not history, it’s evolution, and it’s change ...

... Architecture and architects …

... Survival 🙂

... Vernacular architecture ...

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The role of Hezbollah

Civil War in Lebanon … Hezbollah … Hassan Nasrallah … you and I have the same right … Western media … people living together with equal rights … one-state country … with will and determination, any unfair situation will have to end.

The initial plan of the Americans was to give Lebanon to the Palestinians and solve the Palestinian issue: take Lebanon and forget about Israel and Palestine. So at some point, they came all the way to this village here (above Beirut), which is a Christian neighbourhood, with a Christian headquarters in another village half an hour from here. So it became very scary, they were basically able to invade the most critical areas of Lebanon in terms of Palestinians. At this point, the Christian leadership asked Syria to intervene. To stop the plan. So the Syrians came in and they stopped the plan, basically. So that was the first blow to the Israeli-American plan. And the Syrians began to push the Palestinians back to where they were, to their camps, and they recaptured all the territory that the Palestinians had taken under their control.

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Ivana and I (BB) first met Rafi in person in the middle of the night, when he picked us up at the airport and took us to his nice big family fleet in Beirut. He said we could stay for a week, but we stayed until the last day! He had taken a week of just to show us around Lebanon. His favorite place is the Jabal Moussa forest reserve with very old cedar growth and canyons in the Mount Lebanon area.

Here in the mountains, I could finally admit that the light is special, intensive in a very specific way. By here, I mean in Lebanon, wherever we went ... I have a theory why, and it is also for this reason that I want to come back, trace more and explain that bit of the story as well.



Turba, a women-led regenerative farm in Zahle, Beqaa in line with the Farms Not Arms design model.

Turba, the Arabic word for soil, encompasses our values and our focus of placing soil health front and center to heal our land, our communities, and our planet. We are employing regenerative principles 

to grow and cultivate healthy and nourishing food much more efficiently while creating a scalable farm model for food security.


Our Seeds are our Roots

Story of a Land, Protection of a Heritage – Buzuruna Juzuruna: قصة أرض وحماية التراث

Walid is a Syrian farmer, a refugee in Lebanon since 2011. In 2014, he met Zoé and Ferdinand, two Frenchmen, on a trip to the land of the cedars. This encounter gave birth to Buzuruna Juzuruna ("Our seeds are our roots"), a farm-school located in Saadnayel, Beqaa, supported by CCFD-Terre Solidaire.



 R A F T

What is difficult for me is that sometimes I feel alone. It’s hard, you know, because I don’t see a lot of people around me – I'm not saying there aren’t people – around me, among friends, colleagues. I’m somehow, maybe, marginal. But that's OK… There are a lot of people like that, but I’m not surrounded by them. But especially the young generation, when we talk about these things in general, not specifically in our work, in general about architecture, they are very open to this and very receptive. Much more than the older generation. Because they live the problem that the previous generation created. So even the religious differences, the new generation is fed up with these divisions. They don’t want to hear about it anymore, Christians, Muslims, Jews. But the previous generation fought for it, one fought as a Christian, the other one as a Muslim… But the new generation is more open. The minds of the others are blocked. The same goes for these issues. They very easily accept it and then work around it. Yeah, but you have to do it in a… I don’t like to nag, that is dangerous, if I keep nagging “this is bad, this is bad…” No, this is what we have, and we have to change it. You change by being self-critical, seeing what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and trying to change that. It’s as simple as that. And believe that you can change. Which I do, definitely. So that’s the key, I guess. Not to nag, not to be destructive. Not to just complain without being constructive. Try to give solutions. And one of my solutions was to take a new look at the architectures of today in terms of legislation. Which means a new way of thinking, a new way of approaching.

My wish is to “not leave a trace”… There is an Armenian poet who has a phrase I like a lot: “Like a flower I take out of the earth, I smiled at life, I walked away and left”. This is what I mean by “not leaving a trace”. Now, smiling at life is the trace, the kind of trace I want to be, yes, only that kind. Just smiling at life and then walking away and leaving. And I read that on one of my birthdays, quite by coincidence 🙂 There is a joke about coincidence: two philosophers are discussing (this is also in Armenia) whether there is chance in life or there isn’t. So the guy that believes there is chance is says to the other, “Let’s say you’re walking on the street and the flower pot falls on you from the balcony. What do you call that?” The other one says, “This is an accident." He’s avoiding the word "chance". The first on says, “OK, the next day you’re walking down that same street and then from that same balcony another flower pot falls on you. What would this be?” The other one says, "This is coincidence...” 🙂 The first one says: “Ok, suppose the third day you’re walking again and then the flower…” And the second one says, “This has become a habit." 🙂 They (the Armenians) have very funny jokes, especially in the Soviet times when you couldn’t say much and everything was hidden.

The bigger the problems, the closer the solutions. Everything we are doing beyond our needs is a poison. - R A F I

and PIerre

"Young people should stay in Lebanon, but..." Besides offering his chocolates, Pierre – LE NOIR Atelier Du Chocolat – also

shared his opinion about young people in Lebanon.

We ordered coffee and got chocolate with it :-))

AND editor's note: 

The title of this exclusive Mediterranean story, "Be Enlighted – Visit Lebanon", can be explained in three ways:

– Lebanon (similar to Palestine) is the best place to see how life can be simultaneously experienced and lived as parallel realities. One is based on connections and sympathies, being connected to the land and cultivating heartful relationships with each other. Such wisdom gives us the strength to live... a life. The other reality is the fact of living in a country and area (Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan) that has been the target of strong manipulative egoistic interests since WWII, which makes life very hard even today! 32 years have now passed since the civil war (which lasted nearly 15 years). The majority of the population no longer knows how it was "before", and 60% of the population live abroad as messengers of the wisdom of coexistence, as they remain well connected to Lebanon. Today, we are in a critical situation globally that forces us to be aware of our own parallel realities that give us opportunity to connect and coexist where peace and freedom are present.

Be enlightened... Here the light is literally different, very bright. This could be related to the specific conditions in this part of the Mediterranean. 

– Be enlightened... is something almost normal here. The people are very friendly, attentive, self-aware and well connected with the land, which is still very strong and primal, despite being overpopulated. Here meet the sea and minerals of the land, mountains. 

Rafi's statement – The bigger the problems, the closer the solutions – works here, where conditions are good and people are connected to them. I know that living in parallel worlds also exists in other parts, gaps and pockets of the world, and practicing our own parallel worlds as individuals and communities should also contribute to the "pot of wisdom". In this sense, Lebanon is a great place to stay and get inspired.

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Released by MEDLand project / film, photography, editing: BB   TRANSCRIPTIONS : Ivana Petan  proofreading: Tadej Turnšek,       godfather of the story: Ivana Petan