WATCH: The Future of Cities

The modern city is ever-changing, continuously taking on new roles and conforming to different standards of living. In this captivating video, filmmaker Oscar Boyson explores the future of the metropolis and discovers how concepts from visionaries like Jane Jacobs are being implemented across the globe.

WATCH: The Future of Cities

Petition in Favor of the Light Rail on Emek Refaim

Blue Line on Emek Refaim and Rachel Imeinu

Jerusalem Construction News recently revealed the municipality’s plan for the addition of the light rail on Emek Refaim as part of the future blue line. Since then, a vocal but small group of individuals have spoken out against the plan. Local shops and homes have become a platform for an anti-train campaign, with signs petitioning passersby to help prevent the addition of the line to the once-popular street.

It is not outside the realm of possibility that the vocal minority will have an impact on the municipality’s decision to go forward with their proposal and therefore it is incumbent upon those who are in favor of the project to make their voices heard. As a result, I have created a petition for all those in favor of the light rail on Emek Refaim and the positive effects it can have on the street. These include:

  • A reinvigorated economy. It is no secret that Emek Refaim is slowly dying. Many long-standing businesses have closed and more continue to leave the street in favor of greener pastures. It is debatable as to why this is occurring, but the addition of the light rail will bring more people to the street and create improved walkability and openness. The Yafo model has proven this.
  • A cleaner and greener experience. Emek Refaim is used as a main artery for commuter traffic, but it was never designed for this purpose. As a result, the street struggles to find its purpose. Is it a place for pedestrians and neighborhood shopping or is it a road for cars, trucks and other heavy polluters? The addition of the light rail will define the street by making it a streamlined pedestrian experience with an abundance of greenery and cleaner air.
  • A safer environment. There is nothing more disconcerting than having to share a road with cars and busses barreling down at 50 kmh. Pedestrian safety is paramount, but often it feels as though the cars are favored on the street. The fact that the town recently renovated the asphalt on the road but left the cracking and obstructed sidewalks is proof of this.
  • A future-ready reality. Perhaps the most compelling reason to implement the alternative public transit option is that cars are not the future. Citizens globally are being weaned off of cars and the question of when it happens is reliant solely on brave and unpopular decisions made today. Applying the old way of thinking to a future project is harmful. As the city grows, a car-reliant model will create worse congestion, parking issues, pollution and numerous other problems.

When considered rationally, the light rail is a good decision. It will greatly benefit the local businesses and residents of Emek Refaim, and its branching streets, in the long run.

Please sign the petition to show the municipality and local council that you are in favor of the addition of the light rail on Emek Refaim.

Petition in Favor of the Light Rail on Emek Refaim

Jerusalem 2015 – A Year In Review

chords bridge jerusalem  fireworks.jpg
Courtesy: Israel GPO

At the end of every year people tend to become introspective, assessing what they did and did not accomplish. Our cities deserve the same analysis because, after all, they are a part of us.

I began this blog with several intentions. The first was to change the discussion of Jerusalem from a political one to a practical one. Outsiders tend to forget that Jerusalem is a city like any other, whose residents have needs and desires and expectations. The phrase ‘Jerusalem construction’ needs not only conjure up images of settlements and UN meetings.

Construction in any city affects everything from traffic to pollution (be it air, light or noise). Creating an outlet that provides transparency — in an otherwise less-than-transparent environment — was another factor in my desire to write about this subject. It is my hope that readers will begin to look at new projects and assess for themselves how they might be affected. Nothing exists in a vacuum and we’re all bound to be directly impacted at some point.

In the beginning of the year I posted the 2015 Jerusalem budget. It presented some lofty goals, but many were goals that one might generally expect from a city. Instead of going through the list one-by-one, I encourage readers to determine for themselves whether the goals were met. I will provide my overall thoughts, though.

In my 6+ years of living here, Jerusalem has never been a better place to be. In 2015 I noticed more effort than ever to make the city cleaner, increase public projects and events, add bus routes and improve overall livability. I give a lot of credit to Mayor Nir Barkat: a man who genuinely cares about the city.

By the same token, there have been many frustrating developments (or lack thereof). The biggest issue facing the city is affordability. On one hand, Barkat has expressed a desire to bring young students and couples into the center of the city. On the other hand, it seems that every time a new project is announced for the area, it is either impractical or unaffordable or both.  The city is increasing construction and taking initiatives to create inexpensive housing, however, the effects of these initiatives could take years to realize and even then may not work.

This brings me to my final point. A city is a constant work in progress. No one plan will make things better. It takes an amalgam of ideas and experiments. I believe the city is heading in a good direction, but we should never consider our work done. I’m looking forward to what 2016 has in store for Jerusalem.

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Jerusalem 2015 – A Year In Review