The Little Prince – Cleaning Jerusalem Together

The Little Prince – Working Together, Top Down and Bottom-Up

Over the past several months we are seeing a new wave of activism for a cleaner and greener Jerusalem, in all parts of Jerusalem. It’s great to see the energy (renewable, we hope :)) going into these efforts. It turns out that the issue of cleanliness and the environment is common to all populations in Jerusalem, all who are sick and tired of seeing a dirty city.

Much of the work is local and targeted, and is solved by working with the different professionals in the Jerusalem Municipality, and / or via various educational and clean-up activities. In parallel, we saw a need to bring the issue of sanitation and clean streets to the fore among on the political – not only the professional – level. Thus, we, together with the program partners, initiated a number of meetings with key political leaders in the Jerusalem Municipality. We wanted to hear the views and opinions of the city decision-makers. What do they think? What’s on the city agenda?

And indeed it seems that the issue of sanitation and the environment is going to be a central and leading issue for every elected official, heading into the city’s 2018 municipal elections.

Meeting to discuss garbage

Meeting with Deputy Mayor Rabbi Pindrus to discuss garbage

We opened our series of meetings with local decision makers with the Deputy Mayor Rabbi Yitzhak Pindrus, who is responsible for sanitation on Sunday, January 28.  On February 26, we met with Moshe Lion, who is today in charge of the community centers.

Activists from Palestinian East Jerusalem, from Haredi and non-Haredi Jewish neighborhoods also participated. It was obvious to all present that the responsibility for cleaning up Jerusalem is on all of us, both residents and the Municipality, elected officials and professionals. Residents told about their activities and what they seek to accomplish. They asked how they can help the Municipality to keep the city clean, and how the Municipality can help them improve cleanliness in the public sphere. They discussed infrastructure, supervision, sub-contractors, communication and joint work, budgets, procedures, information and responsibility. Hard to believe how garbage can bring people together… 🙂

Meeting with Moshe Lion

Meeting with Moshe Lion

The bottom line – the importance of building relationships and to work together toward a common goal – a cleaner Jerusalem. Both Deputy Mayor Rabbi Pindrus and Moshe Lion stressed that cleanliness and sanitation are central issues for him, and he’ll be able to push to do more if there is a strong rallying cry from residents, demanding the Municipality’s action.

The residents also gave updates from the field – a new subcontractor began clearing garbage in the Shuafat Refugee Camp and a group of 50 Cleanliness Promoters in the Bucharim neighborhood who will be working in the public gardens and entrances to buildings before the Passover holiday.

Here’s a Facebook post (in Hebrew) describing the encounter with Rabbi Pindrus:

Here’s the post (in Hebrew) about the February 26 meeting with Moshe Lion:

So this is our mission: to raise our voice that we – and the city – need clean streets. Together we’ll be able to accomplish great things.

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Close the Garbage Can! Campaign Gets Underway

How do you go about getting people to close the lids on the garbage cans and put them back in their place after emptying? Have breakfast, of course. So on January 4, some 40 sanitation workers, from truck drivers to shift managers to department directors, and Haredi activists from Bayit veGan, had breakfast together to discuss how to make the streets of their neighborhood, cleaner.

It was far from obvious that this meeting took place. There are many differences between these two groups – religious, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, standard of living. Despite these differences, everyone present wanted to see – and work toward – a cleaner Bayit veGan.

This initiative is part of our Little Prince project, which seeks to advance a range of initiative to help make Jerusalem’s streets cleaner. The garbage can initiative was first presented at our Open Space Technology meeting that we held in May 2017, led by the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee of the Haredi neighborhood of Bayit veGan.

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

This breakfast was the culmination of a long process of discussing the extent of the problem, the root of the problem, and possible solutions to the problem. We helped the women of the committee reach the conclusion that, in order to improve the situation, it was critical to develop a relationship with all involved, and not just be seen as complainers. Thus, the breakfast idea was born.

The idea was to invite all the local sanitation workers together with their managers to learn about the garbage collection from their standpoint. The local community center, alongside the community social worker and the community center director, invited all to breakfast at the community center.

So many attended there was barely enough food

So many attended there was barely enough food

The breakfast itself was a huge success. We were prepared for 5 workers, and 25 – 30 showed up – including all the regular workers, some substitutes, the managers, and the regional manager for Bayit veGan. Everyone cleared the air in an unusually good-natured meeting – residents complained about cans having their lids opened, how the trucks block the streets, how the cans are put back in different places. The workers complained that cars parked on the sidewalks and blocked access to the cans and other issues. Each ‘side’ brainstormed about ways they can help each other make the streets of Bayit veGan cleaners again. All came away with a fantastic feeling that despite the great differences in identity – ranging from Muslim Palestinian and Ethiopian Israeli to Haredi – bridges were built that laid the groundwork for future cooperation. And ultimately, cleaner streets.

Keeping our streets clean means so many things to so many people. From construction waste to littered parks to shutting the lids on the garbage cans in the streets, and having workers put them back in their place after they’d been emptied. Brainstorming and planning together about how to advance these issues in our individual communities – that is the beauty of the Little Prince. It is an example of wonderful, uniquely contemporary Jerusalemite, cooperation. We all live in Jerusalem and want to see it cleaner – for all of us.

Here’s the post from Facebook that was published on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

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Little Prince in the Valley of the Cross

It all began with a question on Facebook – who hates all the litter in the Valley of the Cross? Valley of the Cross, in the center of Jerusalem, ‘down the hill’ from the Israel Museum and the Knesset, is named for the Georgian monastery that sits there. One of Jerusalem’s central ‘green lungs,’ a lot of activities take place there (helped by the fact that large youth movement chapters also have their home there), but they also leave behind numerous, polluting tracks.

This is one example of how the Little Prince program works. Residents initiate and drive projects to clean up Jerusalem, we provide any assistance or platforms, or help make connections, in order to facilitate the growth of the projects.

Fighting for a clean Valley of the Cross

Sign on right: The Valley is ours

The first post led to several others, and engaged more people. A Facebook event was created – anyone who’s interested in cleaning up the Valley of the Cross, let’s meet in front of the monastery on September 28, at 8pm.

 

We're all working for the Valley

We’re all working for the Valley

Usually the Valley is pretty deserted after dark, but this time, 15 people showed up to show their concern and launch into action.

After this meeting, each person took on one or another task, which led to a community clean-up day, during the Chanuka school vacation, on 15 December.

Scouts and other youth working to clean up the Valley

Scouts and other youth working to clean up the Valley

This wasn’t just another 4-people-with-garbage-bags clean up. It was a huge collaborative effort, with hundreds of volunteers and dozens of municipal workers. (A huge thank-you to all who turned up!)

Working together

Working together

The Jerusalem Municipality provided the garbage bags and and the means to carry them away.

500 bags of garbage!

500 bags of garbage!

Over 70 residents and their families, as well as 450 members of the local Scouts and Bnei Akiva youth movements (who have club houses in the Valley) participated in the cleanup, which resulted in 500 (!) garbage bags of junk.  a promise to contract an outside company to ensure the Valley stays clean.

Here’s one of the posts on Facebook (in Hebrew) from the Director of the Nayot Community Center, which borders on the Valley of the Cross, and a member of the organizing committee:

And another, from one of the activists:

The clean-up was covered by the local Kol Ha’Ir newspaper on December 22:

The cleanup making news

The cleanup making news

As part of the process, it was promised to contract an outside company to ensure that the Valley stays clean. We’ll keep you posted!

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2018-02-04T14:02:17+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Blog, Effective Activism, The Little Prince - Cleaning Jerusalem Together|

Meaningful Trash Talk in the City Center

Usually the term “trash-talk” is used when sports competitors try to psych each other out to get even a little competitive edge.

We, together with activists from all sectors and populations, have also been doing a lot of “trash talk” lately, but this kind is critically important to how we view our city. And to how we smell – and experience – our city.

Through the Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem initiative, we’ve been mentoring activists from all over the city. In our unique model of advancing grassroots activism throughout the city, we’ve been working with groups from the ‘regular’ Jewish (religious / secular) sector, the Haredi sector, as well as the Palestinian sector of the city. As in many of our activities, we are there to help, follow-up, and support. But the real work comes from the grassroots – and to those residents we tip our hat!

One of the more active groups has been one led by residents of the City Center, who deal with a range of issues, from garbage collection to restaurant exhaust, and more. Some issues are caused by their proximity to the Mahane Yehuda market and its numerous stalls and restaurants. Some are due to its location in the city center, in the heart of Jerusalem’s commercial and business district.

On September 27 the group held an organizational meeting at the local community center, in which they discussed the different problems as well as potential solutions.

Meeting to discuss solutions

Meeting to discuss solutions

A month later, the group held a protest at city hall, and as a result the mayor asked to receive a detailed report about the health and sanitation hazards the residents face. Here’s a collage of pictures from the protest:

October 26 at the Municipality

October 26 at the Municipality

They also decided to form a resident forum on sanitation in the community. In continuation of this process, on November 9 the forum held a tour of the Mahane Yehuda market for 50 people.

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

Here’s a Facebook post that describes the tour, which took place on November 9:

This is the whole text of the post:

‘Following the smells of urine and smoke’ –

Last night we held a tour, the first of its kind, joined by 50 participants, to get a closer look at what is going on in the backyards and houses of the Mahane Yehuda market area.
The participants in the tour heard, smelled and saw the serious hazards in the area, and left with deep impressions. During the tour, we met with various professionals who gave their opinions, along with residents who painfully told of how they were forced to suffer daily from serious environmental hazards, including strong and polluting smells from illegal chimneys and unsafe gas cylinders, sanitary hazards, unreasonable noise and threats to our personal safety. One of the places that shocked the participants most was during a visit to a family home, where businesses installed chimney and compressor openings from all sides directed at the family’s windows, including the children’s room.
This is one of a series of tours that are expected to take place in order to raise social awareness of what is happening in the area. We will continue to work together until an appropriate response is given to the quality of life, health, and safety of the residents.

The City Center group has also managed to convince the Municipality to give a thorough cleaning to the streets:

 

As part of the Little Prince initiative we’re following the efforts of City Council members, Deputy Mayors and other city officials to push for a cleaner city. There are many more than what we’re able to post here. Here’s a video posted recently of a City Council meeting:

 

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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Hacking Jerusalem Clean

It all started with #Made in Jerusalem‘s #HackJLM –  a bimonthly series of hackathons, dedicated to helping the tech platforms of a wide variety of nonprofits for social change in Jerusalem – that is helping to advance our Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem Together program.

Hi-tech for social change at #HackJLM

Hi-tech for social change at #HackJLM

Tal Kligman, the director of “the Little Prince” program, Michal Shilor, our Coordinator for Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance and in-house tech guru, and Lionel Wolberg from the Jerusalem Green Fund put out a call to hackers that they were interested in developing tech-based solutions to garbage problems. At the hackathon, Tal, Michal, Lionel, JICC Director Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir and activist/hi-tech professional Polina Sklyarevsky, met up with a group of techies, and together they brainstormed about who, what and how this project should work.

Pausing to take a group picture

Pausing to take a group picture

During the evening they came up with an idea to develop an extremely simple to use mobile app for trash and other dangerous reports. The idea is that you in one click photograph the spot with your phone and send it directly to the Municipality, which will put it in its work plan to be taken care of. This app will operate in both Hebrew and Arabic. All this, without needing to call (and wait for) the Municipality hotline that deals with these issues. Hopefully, a more advanced version will include automatic GPS coordinates, so that Municipality workers will know exactly where to go. (Here’s a link  to the app that they’re trying to develop.) Right now, they’ve developed the first model of the app, and the backend aspects are now being worked on. We hope to have a beta version very soon.

Here’s a Facebook post about the event:

Here’s what #Made in Jerusalem wrote about the evening.

And here’s a video (in Hebrew) of the experience. This initiative starts at minute 17:

 

Wishing the developers well, and good luck to Little Prince!

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The Little Prince – Rolling Up Our Sleeves

We all have our differences but one thing that unites us – Arabs, religious, secular and Haredi Jews – is garbage. After years of working in the neighborhoods and speaking with residents from all populations about what they want to change, one thing always comes up – and it’s garbage. Inspired by the successes of our MiniActive project and its ‘We won’t live in filth!’ campaign, the Little Prince project seeks to help all communities in Jerusalem deal with their garbage.

150 people talking garbage

150 people talking garbage

An initial meeting was held in March at our offices on Mount Zion, which set the tone for this unique project. A true mix of the Jerusalem population – 1/3 Arabs, 1/3 secular/ religious Jews, 1/3 Ultra-Orthodox Jews – came to draw the broad strokes of the project.

Discussing ways to take care of garbage - together as well as separately

Discussing ways to take care of garbage – together as well as separately

On Wednesday, May 3, we rolled up our sleeves, and got down to work.

150 people came – 150 people who care about garbage! This included deputy mayors, the Haredi Deputy Mayor who is in charge of sanitation, the professional director of the municipal sanitation department, a number of members of city council, both from the coalition and from the opposition, lay leadership from a range of community centers, active residents, and more. Indeed, since the meeting they’ve been true to their word, helping us to help residents take care of our garbage.

Including Deputy Mayors and City Council Members

Including Deputy Mayors and City Council Members

“I’m participating this evening…in an amazing initiative of the Jerusalem Intercultural Center,” wrote Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkovich. “Those who dream of making a change in the field of clean streets in Jerusalem.” Here’s his Facebook post (Hebrew):

Yael Yechieli, Director of Jewish Pluralism programs at Shatil, happened to be in the Beit Alliance building, lecturing another group about activism. “I was telling them that the first condition for activism is when something gets you mad. The second condition is that other people tell you that you have no chance of succeeding and you ignore them. Then I remembered about the meeting and went downstairs to see more than 100 people, who had gotten mad about dirty streets, and who had been told that there’s no chance they’d succeed. What a wonderful coincidence.”

Here’s her Facebook post (in Hebrew):

This project is unique in that, on the one hand, it encourages different populations to work together. On the other hand, much of the work is done within individual communities. The initiatives are as diverse as Jerusalem’s populations – there are those aimed at individuals, those aimed at neighborhoods, those aimed for implementation citywide. There are those that deal with specific aspects of keeping the city clean (signs, garbage cans), and there are those that are more general (developing an interactive app). Each participant can choose whether he or she wants to work with the ‘other,’ solely advance his or her community, or do both. The true beneficiary – all Jerusalemites. Here are some examples of projects that are being advanced:

  • Connecting – connecting residents with municipal workers through creating a mobile app that will connect and update all factors involved – municipal departments, residents,
  • “Two Pieces of Garbage” campaign – a public awareness campaign to encourage each resident to pick up at least two pieces of garbage a day
  • Adopt a street
  • Adaptation of street cleaning according to special needs in East Jerusalem
  • Our Signs – ensuring that public signage is clean and free from defacing
  • Twinning neighborhoods – enabling two neighborhoods that are similar in character to plan and brainstorm together
  • Clean Neighborhood Committees in individual communities
  • Adopting public sites by local schools
  • Public awareness campaign, “Leave it the way you found it,” on returning garbage cans to their place, with the lids down
  • Increasing reports to 106 municipal hotline
  • Community cleaning events
  • Increasing recycling

Keep updated here for more updates on this amazing program.

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The Little Prince – Dutifully Making Sure Jerusalem is Clean

“It’s an issue of discipline,” the little prince explained afterward. “After we finish the morning washing up, we must dutifully make sure that the planet is clean.”

This passage comes from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Svetlana Fedotenko, founder of the Gonenim Music Center and a former participant in our leadership training seminar, who died last year, had been inspired by this passage, and dreamt for a long time to create a project that will put residents in charge of keeping our streets clean. (Click here for more about Svetlana).

We, too, were inspired by Svetlana’s dream, and last week we took some steps to make that dream come true.

Meeting for the Little Prince

Meeting for the Little Prince

We have seen how, of all subjects, garbage can be a unifying factor. We saw it when our MiniActive project banded together to fight for improved sanitation in East Jerusalem. We’ve seen it in the French Hill  – Issawiya area, where Israeli and Palestinian residents banded together to successfully fight the placement of a landfill in their backyards. We saw in city hall, how the one issue that brought secular and Haredi city council members together was the subject of garbage collection. (Below is more information about the French Hill – Issawiya situation)

We had the first organizing meeting last week. More than 25 active residents and community leaders – astoundingly, 1/3 Arab, 1/3 Haredi and 1/3 secular/religious (Don’t remember a time when that EVER happened on its own!) – met at the JICC. We heard about the current awful situation – in collection, in enforcement, in recycling, in teaching toward cleanliness and in teaching toward reduction of waste. We heard about fantastic initiatives that are already taking place, and concluded that such initiatives, together with mutual learning and assistance, can really change the city.

Another picture

Another picture

The group is already beginning to act, and we believe that in another month we’ll be able to invite anyone for whom this subject is close to his heart – residents, professional, community center, educational framework, environmental groups, NGO’s – to join this initiatives. In honor of Svetlana, we’re calling the program The Little Prince.

We’ll be waiting for you, after the morning washing up…

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