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How green was my city in 2005
Naomi Tzur
The New Year heralds a period of serious soul-searching, during which people often decide to change their ways or turn over the proverbial new leaf. The dates of the Jewish calendar take on an uncanny significance when we match them with the progress of the Safdie Plan, which currently poses the most serious of threats to the sustainability of Jerusalem's urban environment, imposing 20,000 housing units and a massive $3 billion western ring road on our precious Jerusalem Hills and draining the lifeblood of the inner city. Sixteen thousand public objections were submitted to the Safdie plan on the eve of Tisha Be'av, when we traditionally mourn the destruction of Jerusalem. One year later, again on the eve of the 9th of Av, the public hearing of the objections was concluded. Now, a year and a half later, the debate on the Safdie plan at the National Planning Council will take place a short time after these days of soul-searching, and even before the final divine court ruling on Hoshana Raba. However, if our decision-makers need to use these days to mitigate the harsh sentence to be meted out to the Jerusalem Hills, we, the Jerusalem public, need to do some even harder soul-searching. What have we ourselves done to improve our city's environment, other than complain about whatever aggravates us, be it litter in the street, light rail works in progress, dangerous holes in the ground or anything else? In these few lines I would like to make 10 suggestions for New Year's resolutions that can cut down our own ecological footprint, probably save money and definitely make us more responsible citizens. * Save the water that runs until it gets hot in a bucket. * Resolve never to drop litter again. * Turn off unneeded electricity. * Don't be lazy - take plastic bottles to a bottle cage and collect the deposit on small plastic bottles and cans, or donate them to charity. * Don't leave the tap running when you wash dishes or take a shower. * Make one of your charities an environmental organization. * Join the activities at a nearby community garden or urban nature site. * Separate organic waste from the rest in the kitchen, and turn it into compost. * Let your car rest at least one day a week. * Choose one errand each week that can be done on foot, without the car. The above suggestions are ridiculously easy to implement, yet undoubtedly, if done by all of us, could have a tremendous positive impact on the city. In fact, in spite of the pessimistic tone we hear from all sides, I would express cautious optimism for the coming year, and pride in this year's achievements: • Environmental organizations in the city completed a survey of neighborhood parks and gardens, which our city plan had not intended to do. • The plan for creation of an urban nature park in the Gazelle Valley was completed. • On Tu Bishvat the Jerusalem Green Map was launched - •The Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition was invited to present the work of the 60 component environmental groups in the capital at an international conference on sustainable cities in Cape Town, South Africa. • More than 50 community gardens and urban nature sites are being tended by caring community activists. • The plan to erect a 150-meter tall observation tower on Armon Hanatziv was toppled once again. There are certainly still many battles ahead and plenty of hard work to be done, but I believe we should start the new year resolved to work together to make our beloved city clean and green. The writer is head of the Jerusalem Branch of the Society for the Protection of Nature
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