Muslala Plaza Enlivens Jerusalem's Clal Commercial Center.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
How can a green environment and urban life be combined? Is it possible to farm amid the hustle and bustle of the city? How can different sectors of the population be brought into contact with one another? And what power do art and creativity have to make all these connections?
These are just a few of the questions that preoccupy members of Muslala, a group of young artists who live and work in Jerusalem. With the help of JNF Calgary (Canada) and its Friends, a green terrace has been constructed at Jerusalem’s Clal Center, on its roof, where the group meets for activities.
“Art is the international language that we all share, and it can bring different people together,” declared Matan Israeli, Muslala’s artistic coordinator. “Our ambition is to put people in touch with their environment, which is the thing that life in any city lacks most.”
The Clal Center, a big building in central Jerusalem that once housed a large number of businesses and offices, has fallen into neglect and abandonment with the passage of time. With the help of JNF Calgary, a green balcony – partly sheltered, partly in the open air – has been constructed on top of the building, where it serves as a center for urban nature, agriculture, sustainability and creativity.
This remarkable new feature was inaugurated at a ceremony attended by a JNF Canada deputation from Calgary and by representatives from KKL-JNF and the Jerusalem Foundation.
Among those participating in the ceremony was donor Carol Ryder whose support, together with that of her late husband Larry, made the construction of the balcony and the green roof possible. The 2016 Gala Negev Dinner was held in honor of the Ryders to promote this unique project, and the result of these efforts is now plain to see.
“The opportunity to give something back to the community always imbued our daily lives with meaning and defined us as a team,” explained Carol Ryder. “Arts, education, friendship, understanding…building community through engagement - that's what life is all about, and that's Muslala."
KKL-JNF Fundraising Director Zeev Kedem, who presided over the ceremony, expressed his appreciation for this group of young artists who work for the benefit of society as a whole. “This is the real Israel, the country you see around you,” he told the guests from Canada.
Watch video of Muslala inauguration, and read more