“Sometimes you’ve just got to act” is a personal motto of two enterprising environmental activists, Devora Liss & Shoshannah Finkelman, who have initiated the Jerusalem Of Green Project, based at the Mercaz HaMagshimim (New Immigrant Absorption and Community Centre) in Jerusalem’s German Colony.The JOG Project mentors anyone who has an idea for an environmental project, and gives them the necessary support, resources, and a little funding to get the idea up and running. Currently there are 4 projects that Shoshannah and Devora oversee, both through a monthly ’round table’ meeting with all the participants, and with regular one to one sessions with each participant. The projects in development right now include an online Green Talmud Project; a Recycling Initiative for Yeshiva students; a Green Audit project that gives individuals and families the chance to have their lifestyle and energy output ‘audited’, and a scheme to bring to shoppers and shops on Emek Refaim in the German colony a localised cloth shopping bag, in place of the ubiquitous (and hopefully soon to be outlawed) plastic bag.
I will report back on these projects and how they develop over the next few months in a series of special posts.Devora’s inspiration for this project came from her time at the University Of California, Berkeley, where she observed a Tikkun Olam (‘doing good in the world’) scheme, ‘Doing Good Well’, run through Berkeley Hillel, which offered students $180 with which to make the world a better place. She and Shoshannah met through the Magshimim ‘Atid Yarok’ programme which Shoshannah has run for the past 4 years. For both of them, the JOG Project is a way to help foster eco-activism: “Sometimes such initiatives in the environmental world are created because of the need to fight against something, to create an enemy,” Devora comments. “Through creating this umbrella group for many projects, we want to show the wider community that small things can be done by every person. Its great to see people become empowered by this support – we can only offer token funding, but the money is a booster resource. If projects need more finance, we can help participants fund-raise. We also have a wide knowledge of the environmental scene here in Israel, and many contacts within it.” Currently, the JOG Project is running until June, and is run through the Activism Centre at Magshimim, which is a branch of the Hadassah Organisation. The Activism Centre is run by Deena Fiedelman, and other projects run under her auspices include supporting Sudanese refugees, and campaigning against sex-trafficking. If more participants with exciting green ideas come forward after then, then the Jerusalem Of Green Project may continue, dependent on time and funding. Devora and Shoshannah balance each other out in their slightly different approaches to activism – Shoshannah prefers a cerebral style of debate and discussion, while Devora urges action: “the main goal here is to get things done and doing – change has to happen, and the motive to act becomes the action.” Shoshannah adds: “We want to inspire community activism, however we can and with whatever we can.” Together, these two are shifting the debate, energy and action on the environment here in Israel, as well as supporting future pioneers, and for all these reasons Green Prophet salutes them as our Prophets Of The Week.