“I am Al Thoury / Silwan” Photography Exhibition Opens at Grassroots Jerusalem

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“I am Al Thoury / Silwan,” a part of the “Image and Identity” Arts Advocacy project I started in 2011, opened Wednesday, July 11th at Grassroots Jerusalem to over 100 Jerusalemites. The project teaches Palestinian youth how to creatively articulate local culture, history, identity and space using images.

The afternoon began with the “I am Al Thoury / Silwan” exhibition, a result of a series of photography workshops led by Ahed Izhiman and the  “Image and Identity” Arts Advocacy project. Over seventy people attended the exhibition where the students’ photographs and a set of collaborative artistic portraits they created were displayed.

The students’ photographs detail daily life in Al Thoury / Silwan and the difficulties their community faces in receiving serves due to the neglect of the Jerusalem Municipality. Several of the pictures document the massive amounts of trash, unpaved roads and raw sewage that floods their neighborhood.

The exhibition was also the premier of a short film about the human rights violations that students in Al Thoury face and how they are using artistic expression to advocate for change. In the short movie students spoke about how their “Jewish neighbors – who live directly next to them – receive full services and live in much better conditions” and how they could use a video camera to show the world the “unjust difference between Palestinian and Jewish neighborhoods, even though they are right next to each other” and pay the same taxes.

Two More Homes Receive Demolition Notices in Nabi Saleh

On Sunday, Palestinian Independence Day and the day before a week long holiday in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, two villagers in Nabi Saleh received notice from the Israeli Civil Administration that their houses must be demolished in one week’s time. According to the notice, they can either demolish their own homes or to pay the Israeli Civil Administration after they demolish them. Both houses were built with permission from the Israeli Civil Administration in 1978 and 1980. Since then, they have each added an extension of one room (an inclosed porch and a kitchen) to the homes. While both homes reside in area C, one of the homes is built in area B as well.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolition will issue a letter to the Israeli Civil Administration requesting a delay in the demolition due the holiday and explaining that the families and lawyers are unable to deal with the matter this week.

Since December 2009, when settlers from Halamish furthered their illegal confiscation of the villagers land and the Israeli army refused to protect the villagers, the villagers joined the unarmed struggle against the occupation, or the Popular Struggle. Since then, they received ten housing demolition orders. The previous orders targeted the homes of leaders in the struggle and were issued several months in advance of the date of demolition. On the other hand, the two new orders were issued just one week in advance, falling on the first day of a week long holiday where no lawyers are working. “These housing demolition orders have been placed on these houses in order to put further pressure on us to stop the demonstrations and the resistance,” said Bassam Tamimi, one of the leaders of the resistance and a previous recipient of a housing demolition order.

Top 10 Climate Change Videos for Change.org’s Blog Action Day

Web video can be an extremely effective way to raise consciousness about a sustainable business or cause. Video is a great interlude to all the text online and is relatively inexpensive to make, share and watch. The moving images and music can captivate an audience and convey thousands of words in just a few minutes. Especially today, now that we have numerous ways to share video on social networks and blogs, video has great potential to become viral and carry your business, non-profit organization or cause to thousands or even millions of viewers.

In honor of Change.org’s Blog Action Day, I combed social networks and blogs for the Top 10 Climate Change Videos. The response was astounding and I’ve highlighted here the Top 10. Please let me know which videos you liked and share them with your friends! Thanks to everyone who made and helped me find these great videos.

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Connect to Your Community By Sharing Quality Video Content

Way back when (some of you may know my former blogging self at SababiBlog.com), I started blogging because I wanted to share all the cool stuff I found online. While writing is still one of the most effective way of communicating with your community, I’ve found that sharing videos can also be  extremely effective.

Since I’ve decided to take my blogging skills to a new level and join the league of video bloggers in January 2010, I’ve been combing the web for socially responsible videos and caring online communities.

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Today I came across the Alliance of Youth Movements, an organiztion that seeks to “positively empower leaders to affect nonviolent change in the world by creating and promoting use of technological tools to advance freedom, human rights, democracy, and development around the world.” In addition to hosting AOYM summits, they have over 100 how to videos for virtual community organizers.

Here is a sample and my favorite of the day:

Increase Site Traffic and Contribute to a Worthy Cause

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I’m gearing up for Change.org’s Blog Action Day on October 15th 2009. These kind of group blogging events are a great way to increase traffic to your site, connect with new people and of course, support a worthy cause (more than worthy, necessary–life threatening). Of course, you do need a blog to participate, but beyond that it’s simple to end global warming.

Check out change.org’s promotional video here and join in:

Welcome Social Change Agents!

I am multi-tasking millennial living in the Middle East. Since my early days, I’ve been of the tree-hugging, twittering type. Some of my first attempts, guided by my baby boomer parent’s, involved picking up trash on the playground, marching through the streets of Seattle, giving press conferences on podiums in NYC and eventually smart-mobbing in front of the White House.

Today, I tweet, stumble, subscribe, blog, share, link and do the web 2.0 boogie as a profession and as a hobby. But, I don’t just do it for any reason–I do it to create and contribute to a community of social change agents and I invite you to  join me.

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As a communications consultant for non-profit organizations and socially responsible businesses, my work involves creating communities around great ideas. Every day I come across valuable tools for people and organizations working for social change and I plan on sharing them with you here, on my blog. I hope that through my writings you will be able to find constructive commentary, information and connections that will help you create a community around your social change ventures.

Please contribute to this blog, as this is a place for community–so join in. I’m not just writing for myself–even though I often think so–I’m writing to help others on their path and to learn something as well.

Please share your social ventures or social change tools with me by contacting me at: alisonramer@gmail.com. If they’re any good, I’d be glad to feature them here.

About the Author

Alison Ramer is a communications consultant, writer and social entrepreneur based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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Inspirational Living: Neve Shalom Wahat-al Salam

For those of you who don’t know Neve Shalom Wahat-al Salam (Oasis of Peace), you should. For a long time I’ve been a fan of this village, which was jointly established by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel in the 1970s.

While desegregated schols are becoming increasingly popular, there is still much work to be done. As Christine Deakers writes in “Israel-Pealestine Constructivist Schools: How education solves the conflict”

The structural violence of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is built into the educational system in Israel. A majority of families in Israel send their children to segregated schools, promoting antagonistic viewpoints and attitudes that “other” their fellow man. Separated from learning about the other culture indirectly exploits the youth into becoming proponents of violence because they are taught to think of the other as an enemy.

Empowering Young Jews without Internet Power


After a relaxing Shabbat, it’s time to begin the week!

While I was organizing myself for the upcoming week I came across an email for a FREE Shabbat Dinner with the Professional (Jewish) Leaders Project, yet another interesting Jewish organization that focuses on young Jews, and Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Although I’m going to be back in states for the Shabbat Dinner on August 15th, I didn’t find an event in Seattle. I emailed the coordinators and am trying to organize it myself. If it goes through and you’re part of the Seattle Jew Crew, you should definitely take part. I’ll keep everyone updated here.

Otherwise, I spent a little time on the Professional Leaders Project website. Here are the basics of what I found.

According to PLP’s website:

We are an entrepreneurial nonprofit founded three years ago, and select Talent in their 20s – 30s around the country. PLP connects them to forward-thinking seasoned leaders for networking, mentoring, coaching, skill-building, and positive organizational change. We are dedicated to increasing the recruitment and retention of outstanding leaders who will lead our Jewish community into the future.

Unfortunately, they currently are only providing services and networking to young Jews in the United States. Hopefully in time they will expand their network to include Israel and the rest of the diaspora Jewry. Especially since an increasing number of young American Jews are making connections with Israel and spending a month or more there.

Their website is sleek and well organized. It includes a place to sign up for their weekly newsletter, an RSS feed and badges for users to add their organization to StumbleUpon and Facebook. The site also had a PLP TV page where you could watch videos of their Jewish leaders and their projects. It all looked great, until I wanted to take a part of it. Then I found a bunch of road blocks lying in my path.

PLP offers many different PLP Initiatives, social networking, mentoring and fellowships. I noticed a sign-in box for their Talentshare networking site, but couldn’t find a place to sign-up. I also couldn’t find a place to apply to any of the other Initiatives advertised on the website and ended up feeling like I’d hit a road block.

Instead, I had to drag myself over to their contacts section and sent an email to their info box–which sucks. Instead of all that mess, I think it would really benefit them (and the young Jews that they are serving) to create a place where people could easily apply online and get more information about becoming participants in their organization.

Lastly, the organization was featuring Michelle Citrin, who I wrote about in my previous post. However I could not figure out how she is connected to the organization and why they were featuring her. I suppose that she is one of their Jewish leaders but I’d love to know a little bit more, but again the website failed to do that.

From the PLP’s mission statement, the organization appears to be really dedicated to young Jews. However, if they can’t utilize the internet and their website well, they definitely aren’t going to connect well to us youngsters.


Jewish Laughing at Midnight

Some how when I was supposed to be closing my eyes tonight, I wandered over to the “The Telegraph” and listened to what I thought would be my goodnight podcast. However, Rosh Hashana Girl, Michelle Citrin, and her co-conspirator William Levin, or the creator of Jewish Robot got me hooked.

Before I could hit that lovely little “shut down” button, I ended up scrolling YouTube and laughing my teeny little polish ass off. I’d definitely seen the classic “I Gotta Love You Rosh Hashana,” but there are a bunch more of hip, honest and humerous clips that from this creative Jewish team that I’ve never seen.

Take a look at this one made for Israel’s 60th birthday, “Teh History of Israel.”

Quick Update from Jerusalem

Today I fled the humid Mediterranean air for the crisp hill tops of Jerusalem and met with one of the Prime Minister’s advisors, Ovad Yechezkeli. It was quite an interesting affair, but I’m going to have to hold off on the details until tomorrow…
In the mean time, take a look at this article from the Jerusalem post, “Is religion good for peace?” Starting next week, the International Council of Christians and Jews’ will be headed by a woman for the first time. Another move forward for women and religion today…