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.