Greening Jerusalem of Gold


The Need: Home to the world’s dominant monotheistic religions, Jerusalem is revered the world over as a center for spiritual and ethical guidance. Thus, when we seek to make Sustainable Cities – sustainable socially, economically and environmentally - it is natural that the lead should come from Jerusalem. Jerusalem should be a beacon, leading the way for sustainable strategies.

For thousands of years, poets have written about the splendor of Jerusalem. We cannot break this eternal chain. The Jerusalem Foundation seeks to shape a modern, unified and vibrant city by creating opportunities for all of Jerusalem’s populations. These opportunities Programs such as the Gazelle Valley, Greening Katamon and Community Gardens Network are avenues through which we work toward achieving this goal.

Impact on Jerusalem: The environment and open spaces play an important role in the well being of a modern city, improving its air and water quality and reducing the effects of the harsh Mediterranean climate. It provides the biblical backdrop of Jerusalem's rich history, spaces with flora and fauna that are unique to the Jerusalem hills, and are important for the sake of biodiversity. These spaces are also a great resource to the educational system and are vital for the quality of life for the surrounding community, for its mental and physical wellbeing. The Jerusalem Foundation, together with the Jerusalem Municipality and other partners, is committed to preserving and developing nature resources for the residents of Jerusalem. Examples of main projects include:

Gazelle Valley:  Gazelle Valley is the last open valley in the center of Jerusalem, a part of a valley system that starts at the Knesset and passes through the southwestern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The valley is home to a herd of mountain gazelles. Jerusalem’s new road system and buildings disconnected the herd from their natural path out of the city. This confinement created a unique opportunity to create the urban gazelle park, the first of its kind in Israel. Several years ago this centrally-located land was in danger of being developed into a housing complex, destroying this natural urban treasure. The response was unique and unprecedented – a whole community, including organizations, architects, planners and concerned citizens, successfully thwarted these efforts. Today, educational activities take place with a range of educational frameworks, both formal and informal, including special education.

Greening Katamon: One of the greatest challenges to greening Jerusalem is changing residents' everyday behavior. The task is much more difficult in poor neighborhoods such as the Katamonim, where constant worries about money, food, and bills overpower all else. This project creates a comprehensive, community-based model of a sustainable community culture, which can be applied throughout Jerusalem and Israel. This project seeks to integrate environmentally-friendly behaviors in all aspects of life, creating an environmentally sustainable community culture and utilizing existing frameworks to engage the entire community in greening the neighborhood. Greening Katamon began in 2012 and now includes a comprehensive approach to sustainability, with recycling and composting programs, programs for lay leadership and social entrepreneurship, formal and informal education initiatives for children, youth and adults, and more. It has also garnered a broad base of partners and support, and it is important for us to build on this success. Altogether there are hundreds of active participants, and thousands of Katamon residents of all ages are benefitting.

Community Gardens Network: Over the past 10 years the Community Gardens Network has grown to 60 gardens throughout the city, serving some 3,000 people, with hundreds of active volunteers. Uniquely, they serve the spectrum of Jerusalem's diverse population –well-to-do- and poor; Arab and Jewish; young and old. Thus, as residents work together to plan and create sustainable community gardens in place of previously neglected public areas, they are learning respect for one another through respect for nature and the environment. The gardens serve as useful learning tools to teach both children and adults community responsibility and cooperative behavior, and how to work together for communal and common benefit.

Partners: Jerusalem Municipality; Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel; Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)-Israel

Funding Needed: NIS 120,000 per year per program