Building Visions for the Future of Jerusalem: A Bottom Up Approach

Management & Research Team: Dr. Timea Spitka, Prof. Dan Miodownik, Liel Maghen, Tareq Nassar, Sarah Abuarafeh, Dr. Jay Rothman and Noam Brenner
“Building Visions for the Future of Jerusalem: A Bottom Up Approach” is a three-year Leonard Davis Institute (Hebrew University) and Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI) collaboration.
The project engages residents of East and West Jerusalem, urban planners, students, women, youth and local leaders to work together to shape the current and future reality of their neighborhoods and the city as a whole. mural_image_two_girls.jpg
The project proceeded with the second stage this year, facilitating thematic groups of residents which discussed four of Jerusalem’s salient challenges: Youth and Education, Infrastructure, Safety and Political Representation. To discuss the issues in the groups, we used a visual community participatory method called Photovoice. In photovoice, participants are asked to voice their challenges, ideas and desires by taking pictures of their reality. Later, their pictures become their basis for the group discussion about the city. In the final stage of the process the participants are asked to imagine and create a picture based on their vision for change. The results from the thematic groups will culminate in policy papers and advice on national urban interventions, contributing to local input to short and long-term solutions for the city. 
During the coming year, we plan to advocate these policy papers through several channels. The papers will be presented at an international conference in November for the first time, accompanied by an exhibition of the photos. This exhibition will be moved around within Jerusalem in order to inspire residents and local activists. The output will also be published on the project website and distributed on social media. Through this approach we aim to engage and empower residents to work on local creative initiatives, increase knowledge of the complexities of Jerusalem and contribute towards a negotiated solution to the city. The project is funded by the EU with contributions from the Hebrew University.