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.
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:
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.
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.