Ramot Community Dialogue

Ramot Open Space Initiative – follow up meeting

Tal Kligman and Hagai Agmon-Snir from the JICC met Ami Segev, the Ramot Community Council Director, and Oren Bolondi, the Ramot Community Organizer, the people who approached the JICC several months ago for help in creating a community dialogue process in Ramot through Open Space.

The Ramot professionals updated on the progress of the 10 initiatives that stemmed from the two Open Space events. It seems that almost all of the initiatives enjoy a lot of positive energy of volunteers and professionals that wish to act together and bring about change in the neighborhood. There are groups dedicated to transportation, neighborhood clean-up, relations between different religious denominations, playgrounds, education etc.

Our main tip to Segev and Bolondi was to promote transparency. It was wonderful to see that so much came out of the Open Space and that there is a good follow up process. But the Ramot residents themselves must be the ones to realize that. Hence, the updates will be reported monthly in the Ramot newspaper and people will be encouraged to join the process. And of course, according to the original approach of the conveners, we might see periodical Open Space meetings in the neighborhood. This is all about deliberative democracy – decision making in Ramot can be based on deliberation and contribution by all stakeholders.

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Ramot Open Space Initiative – the second day!

Today we had the second day of the Open Space event (which consists of two evenings – on Dec 10 and 16 – see the update on the first evening). Most of the participants in the first evening, as well as a few new faces, showed up and continued the discussions on the future of Ramot. Upon their arrival, the participants received the summaries of the discussions from the previous event written by the discussion groups themselves.

Ramot Lay Leaders and Professionals at the Open Space

Ramot Lay Leaders and Professionals at the Open Space

The second session was devoted to suggesting new implementation initiatives. Groups were formed to define these initiatives and ensure followup. The Ramot Community Council is committed to convening the groups in order to implement the Open Space outcomes. The Open Space steering committee will meet to make certain that the events would not remain a one-off activity, but that they would really be the beginning of profound participatory democracy in the neighborhood.

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Ramot Open Space Initiative – the first day!

Ramot Open Space Banner

Ramot Open Space Banner

In 2008, the Ramot Community Council asked the JICC’s assistance in creating a  participatory community development process in the neighborhood. The selected model was Open Space Technology, a powerful methodology that encourages large groups of participants, in this case residents, leaders, activists and professionals, to engage in the process with both their passion and responsibility for action. In recent posts we updated on the preparations towards the two-sections Open Space event.

Assembly of the Ramot Open Space

Assembly of the Ramot Open Space

Today we had the first day of the Open Space event (which consists of two evenings – on Dec 10 and 16). About 100 residents, staff members, and a few others that see themselves as involved in the neighborhood, came and actively participated in discussion groups on topics they themselves have raised. We were happy to see involvement by the local youth, including four 12-year old primary school students who came ready with their discussion topics and ran a few of the discussions as real pros…

Putting a discussion topic on the agenda

Putting a discussion topic on the agenda

Diverse issues were raised: transportation, cleaning the neighborhood, education, activities for young adults, parks and much more. Each discussion group concluded with a summary paper of the main points discussed and first recommendations. There were two sessions, with 6-10 concurrent discussions.

A Discussion Group

A Discussion Group

The summary papers were typed and will be soon available on the Ramot Community Center website. They will also be distributed to the participants towards the next evening that will conclude the event.

Another Discussion Group...

Another Discussion Group…

The slogan of the event was “Now it is in our hands” and the main message that came out of it was that together, the residents and the staff of the community center can create a change in the neighborhood – with passion and responsibility.

Yet Another Discussion Group...

Yet Another Discussion Group…

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Ramot Open Space Initiative – calling the public to come and join!

In recent posts we updated on our process with the Ramot Community Council to create a  participatory community development process in the neighborhood, using Open Space technology.

The Ramot Community Center is currently investing much effort to publicize the community meetings that will take place on December 10 and 16. Meetings are being held with school boards, youth movements, community organizations, synagogues and all other entities that can be part of the process. We meet regularly with the community worker/organizer of Ramot to help and guide the process. It is our hope that this process will serve as an important landmark in community participation and in affecting the fate of this neighborhood.

Look here for the invitation to the Open Space events. This invitation calls anyone and everyone that lives in Ramot, or feels that they want to impact the future of this neighborhood, to join us for these events.

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Ramot Open Space Initiative – Steering Committee, November 9, 2008

In 2008, the Ramot Community Council asked the JICC’s assistance in creating a  participatory community development process in the neighborhood. The selected model was Open Space Technology, a powerful methodology that encourages large groups of participants, in this case residents, leaders, activists and professionals, to engage in the process with both their passion and responsibility for action. To prepare for the Open Space event in December 2008 we formed a steering committee that includes all relevant stakeholders. The committee then discussed main topics for the event and ways to engage the community in large in the process.

Today, we held the last meeting of the steering committee, with seven members of the Ramot Community Council Board. We were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the committee members, and by their commitment to recruit as many residents as possible for the Open Space event. The event will take place during two evenings on December 10 and 16. Together with the neighborhood community worker and other staff of the community council the residents will help prepare and promote the event.

During the meeting it was also well understood that the municipal elections on November 11 will affect the dynamics in the neighborhood in general and of the event in particular. The local Haredi/non-Haredi rifts and the demographic changes that occurred in the neighborhood are important factors in the development of civil society in the Ramot community.

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Ramot Open Space initiative – October 5, 2008

Ramot is a Jewish neighborhood that consists of ultra-orthodox, modern-orthodox (well, in Israel they are usually referred to as “national-religious”), conservative, reform and secular Jews. Ramot is known in the past twenty years for rifts between the ultra-orthodox groups and other religious denominations. Practically, the percentage of ultra-orthodox people rises and other denominations feel that they are losing their “turf”. The Ramot Community Council, which also serves as the local community center, mainly represents these “non-ultra-orthodox” groups.

The Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center was involved around the year 2000 in a high-rank negotiation process between the main ultra-orthodox leadership and the heads of the Community Council. The achievements of this process were limited, but it created some basic understandings. In 2008, the Ramot Community Council asked the JICC to help in creating a participatory community development process in the neighborhood. The selected model was Open Space Technology, a powerful way to engage passion and responsibility for action among large groups of residents, leaders, activists and professionals. To prepare for the Open Space event in December 2008 we formed a steering committee that includes all relevant stakeholders. The committee then discussed main questions for the event and ways to engage the community in the process.

On October 5, 2008, we held a meeting with the Board of the Community Council to expose them to the methodology and concept of the Open Space, and to emphasize their role as active partners. The board endorsed the process and raised important questions – mainly around best ways to engage as many residents as possible. Similarly to previous meetings, people expressed their concern that due to the demographic threat felt by non-ultra-orthodox residents, despair will cause many not to attend the event. As one participant pointed out, it might be hard for some to discuss “the quality of living in Ramot”, when they are not sure about “living in Ramot” for the long term. As we hoped, the board members were invited to the next meeting of the Open Space steering committee in November. This will enable them to take an active role in making the process successful.

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