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    29 December

    | 2020 | 10:00

    Shared Spaces in Jerusalem – Research Lab Event

    • In Hebrew
    • Invites Only
    • Online
    • In Hebrew
    • Invites Only
    • Online
    Shared Spaces in Jerusalem – Research Lab Event

    The influence of prolonged conflict on the nature of encounters

    In recent years, the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, together with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, has led the issue of shared spaces in Jerusalem.

    The Institute’s researchers focused initially on creating a body of knowledge on the subject – mapping the current status and changing trends in the city and analyzing the different factors which cause either separation or meeting, in the various spaces in Jerusalem.

    After a significant amount of knowledge had been accumulated, the Institute researchers held a series of workshops aimed at municipal professionals – first for urban planners, and then for municipal community workers.

    In these workshops, the participants were made aware of theories regarding the relevant identities of the local groups and populations, and the influence of prolonged conflict on the nature of their encounters. The participants were exposed to the psychological and sociological factors behind different behaviors, and to the data which reveals changing trends in Jerusalem. During the workshops, a wide-ranging language appropriate for the issue at hand – shared spaces in Jerusalem – was developed together with the participants, as well as a unique professional approach to the issue.

    Subsequently, the researchers investigated various test cases in Israel regarding towns and cities that face the issues and challenges of shared spaces. To conclude the study phase, the participants went on a four-day educational tour of Belfast in Northern Ireland, to learn about their local responses in dealing with the challenges of shared spaces.

    Following the workshops, both urban planners and community workers continued, on separate tracks, to expand their knowledge on the issue. The planners even drafted a policy paper relating to the development of shared spaces on the seam line in Jerusalem.

    The Research Lab Event

    Discussion Summary

    After essentially making the city planners and community workers ambassadors and full partners in spearheading this field in Jerusalem, it was jointly decided to set up a laboratory think-tank, whose goal was to make the subject and its language accessible to other municipal players and enlarge the circle of those already engaged by adding additional partners.  

    The laboratory took place on December 29th 2020, a public culmination of several years of research and activity in this area by the Jerusalem Institute and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

    Various municipal professionals were invited to join the laboratory, among them representatives of all relevant municipal departments, council members, and representatives of government offices, connected with this issue, and civil society organizations involved in the field in Jerusalem.

    The laboratory event was both fascinating and exciting and brought different perspectives on the subject to the table – including business, immigrant absorption, and intercultural encounters.

    Collaborations between managers from different municipal departments were put in place following the laboratory meeting, and the discussion continues, intending to expand and deepen municipal activity in the field.

    The meeting served as a call for action for further activity in the field, among the invited participants, who all stressed the importance of the subject and its development for the future of Jerusalem. It was clear to the participants that discussions should be further expanded to include additional groups, including intergenerational shared spaces, access to people with disabilities, immigrants, and a focus on peripheral and marginal groups and sectors.

     Development Suggestions

    1. In the immigrant absorption arena: The Jerusalem Municipality Immigrant Absorption Authority manager, who took part in the meeting, asked to examine further possibilities to promote the subject together with those already active in the field.
    2. The vision was that retail centers could create fertile ground for successful community activities in the business arena. In practice, a community worker was coopted to the municipal department for promoting businesses.
    3. In the planning arena:
      • Incorporating the principles regarding shared places in the next Masterplan for Jerusalem.
      • Increasing public participation involvement in the planning of shared spaces.
      • Combining elements of retail and employment in shared spaces.

    In addition, the need to institutionalize the field was discussed, focusing on the establishment of a municipal unit that would focus on the subject and offer tailored support to those addressing it, similar to the model existing in Belfast. It was suggested that the Municipal Center for Mediation and Community Dialog could serve as a suitable address, working together with the Community Councils and Civic Society organizations. As the management of this Center is currently undergoing personnel changes, the subject will be examined further at a later time.

    Another recommendation was to take advantage of existing municipal platforms to expand and strengthen discussion and the message.

    Many people mentioned the Community Council elections as an opportunity that carried within them the risk of expanding a divisive discourse, as well as the opportunity to deepen discussions regarding shared spaces as a factor promoting municipal work for the greater good.

    In line with the above, following the first round of Community Council elections, community workers presented a project that they had initiated, titled “Jerusalem chooses together”.