Deliberative democracy means enabling all residents, regardless of socio-economic or ethnic background, to take part in changing their future. Such processes can take place in rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, and everywhere in between. Over the past few years we’ve indeed run the gamut of neighborhoods – from Baka’a to Arnona to Gilo, Romema and Kiryat Hayovel. Now we’re concentrating on South Talpiot.
South Talpiot has a very interesting mix of populations. There are many veteran immigrants from Middle Eastern countries. There is a large contingent from Ethiopia (the Municipality built a special community house for the Ethiopian community a few years ago). There are those who are a bit better off who have moved into recently-built hi-rise apartments, and more. There are those who are recognized by the local welfare office and are used to receiving services. Very few are used to having a say in determining what kind of services they will receive. Very few are used to being active and having a voice in the future of their neighborhood.
We’re starting to change all that. On February 3, the Greater Baka’a Community Council, together with the local welfare municipality branch and with our assistance, held a first social entrepreneurship meeting in South Talpiot. We were nervous about how many people would come – in the end there were 80 of us! This included the entire spectrum of diversity of residents – the true meaning of what deep democracy processes are trying to accomplish. And just as often happens in Open Space Technology meetings, the issues addressed – all pertaining to everyday life in the neighborhood – also ran the gamut – from physical and environmental development of the area, neighborhood approach to urban renewal, finding solutions to parking issues, activities for children, and much more!
A total of 11 initiatives were discussed, and we’ll be following up with them, together with the community social worker and other professional staff from the Greater Baka’a Community Council. Congratulations to all involved on a fabulous jump-start!