There is a yearning for ecologically and environmentally responsible choices that I’ve been observing in Tel Aviv, especially among a select group of young, influential artists. There are continual hurdles for them, though, showing how sometimes thinking green and acting green don’t always go hand in hand.
Hayarkon 70 is a disparate group of artists in Tel Aviv that meets a few times a week in an old run-down apartment. The group also runs and operates an artist gallery that also houses studios and offices for a number of young artists. They host many parties and gallery openings and rooftop concerts and add a unique culture to Tel Aviv. I see this community as representative of the general desire many Israelis have to improve their ways, reflecting the demand there is for green technology and services that are practical, easy and affordable.
My first interaction with this community came as members were discussing whether or not to make a full switch to Ecover dish soap at a weekly meeting, and for a brief while there was Ecover in the kitchen because someone met a supplier and got a good deal. After the Ecover meeting most people are aware that Ecover is better than regular dish soap (or maybe not?) but in the shared kitchen of artist studios, when dish soap runs out, some artist who needed to clean dishes and either missed the meeting or didn’t want to spend the extra money goes and buys the green fairy junk and then everybody is stuck finishing off the conventional soap.
The community also boasts a community battery recycling and paper recycling receptacle. When I’ve brought up using Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, though, I received a lot of hostility from everyone, mostly because it represented part of their own contradiction. “But the light is so ugly,” a bunch of people told me, mostly either serious visual artists or appreciators of aesthetics. Lighting really does matter and a resurrected chandelier from the 1950s has been discovered and will soon be using more energy than less.
Which brings us to the roof. I’ve actually had meetings with the group’s architect (and a friend) about green roofing and there is serious interest. They’ve been approached by companies who wanted to build such a roof at cost, but the cost is still more than painters and film editors can muster together. Thus explains the astroturf green roof that now adorns the rooftop.
City Tree, a Green Prophet favorite, was also in talks with the community in planning an Organic Waste Party on the roof during which all the artists would separate their organic waste from their trash and bring both to the rooftop to weigh how many kilos were being rescued. The organic waste would inaugurate the compost bin that City Tree would build for the purposes. Somehow talks fell through and since then one member brought in dozens of plants and trees and began rooftop gardening, and as I’ve written about in earlier posts, I’ve helped him along and have since started a rooftop worm compost on a small scale with a few members.
Just last Tuesday was a panel discussion and magazine launch on the roof for a new magazine about urban planning whose first issue deals with how to effectively handle the forthcoming rapid urbanization and what we can learn (or not learn) from China’s example (see online discussion). The community’s gallery is itself a reclamation of dead urban space and has revitalized a certain part of Tel Aviv.
Given the funds and the proper nudging this community/meeting point for many Tel Aviv artists and thinkers can be harnessed to further influence more Israelis. It now just comes down to who will give them the money and who will provide the organizational nudge.