Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to metric: goat rodeo

Yo Yo Ma and The Goat Rodeo Tour

Rodeos are hard, life threatening and if you mess up you are out in a flash. Whether everything goes well (or not), you need to keep calm, assure everyone involved that all is okay, and carry on…

A “Goat Rodeo” is a spin on the term rodeo. This refers to a chaotic event (space travel is often referred to as a goat rodeo) where many things MUST go right for the situation to work and for you to walk away alive.

I heard the term goat rodeo from our youngest son. He introduced me to a unique genre of music by sending a You-Tube link of the “Yo-Yo Ma Goat Rodeo Tour.” Yo-Yo Ma blended his classical cello playing with world class jazz musicians, and it’s incredible. My son dedicated his last year’s birthday teaching Torah, and introduced his study session with the amazing sound from the Goat Rodeo Tour. He felt reawakened by it, and I listened and understood.

Design is a rodeo, and sometimes a goat rodeo…It has crazy highs and lows. Your neck is on the chopping block, and you need to keep clients, trades and vendors focused and assured that all is well. You must be vigilant, provide excellent service, be creative, perform, stay in budget, and all with a smile… All involved need to perform at their peak if the home/project is to be finished beautifully and in harmony.

I marvel at our little Israel. Israel was created in a chaotic storm. A tiny bee hive swirling with an influx of immigrants from around the globe, into a “neighborhood,” or more like a hornet’s nest/wild west. Israel always has a smile on its collective face, keeps calm and assures its citizens and the world that all is okay.

I’m in awe of the creative talent which pours out of its collective soul. I’ve been inspired by countless artisans who work magic with their hands in stone, wood, metal, construction, gardens, lighting, technology, film, music, art, metal smithing, Judaica, furniture, etc. I wonder if the source of the creativity stems from resilience, or the KNOWING that they are surviving and thriving?

If you ever went behind the scenes to see how many of the artisans work, you’d be amazed. Artisans face challenges most of us could never imagine. I wrote a column called “Oil and Water” where I described the challenges of working with Israeli trades. I often hear trades dealing with similar frustrations. When they’d like to perform excellent work, they get blocked by others that do not have the same work ethic.

One example is measurements. When I send a floor plan with accurate dimensions, there are no guarantees the person building the walls of the home will bother to check the dimensions on the plan. I came to Israel during the buildout of our home at critical stages of construction. Our contractor wanted to know why I needed to approve the dimensions. I told him it was standard practice in the US.

I showed up to do spot measures. Here are some items that needed changing: kitchen wall pulled 4″ into laundry room, vent not centered over stove, living room chandelier off to the side, columns 6″ closer than planned. Some items I was able to change, others I could make do. Our contractor said everything was fine, then took out his tape measure and made the changes.

Unless I point out what was changed, no one would know the difference. In art/design like in jazz, you need to be improvisational; extremely flexible, creative, and think on the spot. One of my favorite adages? Every problem becomes a design solution.

A highlight of being a US designer working in Israel is experiencing the synergy which comes from blending the ancient with the new, and the Middle East with the West. I think of Yo-Yo Ma and how he courageously broke the mold as a classical cellist, venturing into the unknown and improvisational world of jazz. He knew…if he played with equally talented musicians, it would be extraordinary!

Working in Israel is a goat rodeo…YEE HA!

(If you’d like to hear the session, click on the top photo)

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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