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2015 2016

Local Sustainability Center Network
Esther Akiva is an orthodox mother of 5 originally from Brooklyn, New York.
Three years ago she and her family left the West Bank settlement of Eilon Moreh,
where they had lived for 15 years, for the southern periphery town of Netivot.
As part of her new role there, she participated in the Heschel Center training
course as coordinator of the upstart Local Sustainability Center in Netivot.
"Meeting the people and the concepts of Heschel was a very significant
moment for me. I had never heard of sustainability before...learning the ideas
and concepts surrounding sustainability help pull things together to form a
coherent world view and gave me a clear path. I had intuitions before on these
subjects but now I knew how to act on such important issues as environmental
responsibility, reducing waste, saving water and public transportation. I
received the tools that not only influenced my own life but also influenced the
community I lived in."

Esther Akiva in the Israeli Southern town of Netivot

The Local Sustainability Center at Heschel Center promotes 15 fledgling Local
Sustainability Centers (LSC) in the social and geographic periphery of Israel. Each center
helps develop frameworks and programs to galvanize local community and municipality
leaders to implement sustainable practices through local community capacity building.
Each Center is designed around a physical demonstration and meeting space with its
own unique set of priorities that speak to the needs of the community.
The Centers are modeled after the One Planet Living concept developed in the UK
( and the knowledge of local communities
participating. Heschel's role has been to develop a set of modular tools that help
translate ideas into action, according to community needs, engaging local skills and
heritage. LSCs run such programs as:

Open House Days where families host
and showcase sustainable practices
Sustainable Neighborhoods - with
a Handbook and guidelines for
neighborhood led initiatives on the
The LSC Network offers the various
Centers a platform to pool resources
and know - how to help leverage projects
in each town. Ultra-Orthodox Jews,
Bedouin Arabs, Ethiopian Immigrants,
Mizrahim are the various populations
served. They make for a very diverse
Ghilo Sustainability Center
and lively pluralistic cross section
of Israel, most of whom have till now little access to sustainability concepts and
practices. With amazing results:
Esther can boast many accomplishments that she has effected in Netivot - the
ultra-orthodox community there has gone from 0 to 100% participation in the
local recycling and waste disposal program. As a result of a Food and Health
campaign nutrition habits are changing. She is proud that every school in Netivot
K-12, with the support of the municipality, is now engaged in sustainability
education. Esther summarizes: "The terminology and concepts help to create
what I like to call 'a positive domino effect' where every positive environmental
action creates the conscious awareness and desire to do another one."

Sustainability Center in Kiryat Gat

The Heschel Center plans to expand the Network and add 5 more communities annually.

The Heschel Sustainability
Fellows Program
Bringing about effective change requires dedicated leadership. To that end, the
flagship Environmental Fellows Program (Tochnit Amitim) was established in 1999
order to develop a new generation of social and environmental leaders for Israel. It
has already created a network of over 250 agents of change promoting sustainability
in fields such as architecture and planning, agriculture, politics, health, business,
media, government and education.
The Fellows Program reflects the multicultural character of Israeli society, including
Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, residents of the center and the periphery. The
huge success of the Fellows Program can be seen in its popularity and prestige, the
eagerness of the graduates to participate in alumni activities and in the cumulative
effects of its graduates' work in the field. This success is proof of our conviction
that the most effective strategy for achieving social change is through investing in
people, who can productively combine reflection and action.
The Fellows Program creates a space in which to delve into transformational
interdisciplinary learning, networking and strategizing. Approximately 25 Fellows are
trained every year, in a year-long program, one full day a week. They emerge at the
end informed, enriched and committed, with heightened awareness and dedication to
sustainability issues in general and to implementing their personal projects, creating
collaboration with the growing circle of sustainability leaders for Israel.
Compared with a decade ago, there are now more academic programs providing
training in the broad disciplines of environmental studies. But there is still no
comparable framework that provides the integrated leadership development that
combines the depth of our studies with the breadth of our capacity building for
training thoughtful and effective change leaders to promote sustainability across
Israeli society.


Dr. Hussein Tarabiya is the Director and visionary leader of the Town Association
for Environmental Quality (TAEQ) in the Arab city of Sachnin. He points to the
participation in the first cohort of the Fellows Program as a key turning point
in his career and worldview convinced that, "the Fellows program enabled me
to gain knowledge and inspiration and be a part of the big picture of social
environmental shift of sustainability". Practicing these very words, Hussein has
since gone on to develop the TAEQ Center in Sachnin as a regional and national
leader of grass roots initiatives for energy and water conservation, green
building, environmental education, wastewater treatment, organic agriculture
and community empowerment. The prize winning eco-friendly building at TAEQ
used traditional Arab architectural know how and local materials has become a
model that draws thousands of students and visitors each year.
Hussein takes the broad view of social and cultural renewal and dialogue in
all his work: "I think environmental issues require cooperation along the whole
spectrum, regardless if
we are Arabs or Jews.
In the end of the day
everyone wants to live
and breathe clear air.
We must collaborate
in order that there will
be water and open
spaces and more
sources of renewable

Dr. Hussein Tarabiya, Sachnin

Green Building at Sachnin using traditional Arab architectural elements.

Key Goals into the Future
• Upgrade the in-depth learning platform with increased project based "learning
by doing" and mentorship of Fellows to enhance capacity and impact of
projects produced.
• Further cultivate the growing alumni community and budding networks of
dedicated social/environmental leaders and professionals.

Public Private Partnership (PPP) for
Sustainability at the Local Level

“The business sector has an important place in the mainstreaming sustainability
and stepping up to the next level…”
T. participant in the tour to Germany

Relations between business and local government to date have largely focused on
taxes, licensing and services (cleaning and garbage collection). Business is rarely
included in local policy on social environmental and economic issues.
The local PPP being developed is a new model for cooperation between businesses
(corporations and small businesses), municipalities and civil society organizations
wishing to promote a sustainability agenda.
With this in mind, the Local Sustainability Center at Heschel brought together a
diverse group representing a multi-sector, multi-cultural cross section from all over
the country. The group formed a delegation that travelled to visit three German
cities that have successfully built collaborative models for sustainable economic
and urban development, learning firsthand about best practices as well as the
challenges faced along the way.
Three cities - Stuttgart, Freiburg and Ludwigsburg, hosted the group to learn how local
authorities support and create opportunities for businesses to become more sustainable
and become active in promoting this agenda in the city as part of their corporate
responsibility commitment. But by far the major take-away cited: the difference that
holistic cross- sectorial policy makes for driving action, as opposed to the current Israeli
practice of largely disconnected governmental agencies and budgets.
The Israeli delegation came away inspired to adapt and implement similar models back
home, as well as learning methods that German communities are using to connect and
foster collaborative initiatives among business, government agencies and civil society.
As a result of the tour the participants are
continuing to work together to share good
practices and visit each other to learn and
build connections. They have embarked on
a mapping process to build a data base of
initiatives and potential partners between
their communities. Their long term group
goals include expanding sustainability
awareness to more partnerships and
further engaging municipalities.
PPP delegation in Germany

Planning ahead we are currently raising funds for:
• Pilot projects in three cities this year along the lines of the models we learned about.
• Help to duplicate the models in different cities in Israel.
• Create a national conference to disseminate good practices and link up cross
sector initiatives.
• A study tour for local authority heads and business leaders to the US to learn from
the American experience.

Center for Sustainability Studies
Since its inception, the Heschel Center for Sustainability has implemented numerous
transformative learning programs for a variety of target populations. We have provided
seminars for hundreds of senior government officials, courses for professionals in
local authorities, trainings for media professionals, journalists, educators, urban
planners and much more.
"The course was an inspiring 'deep dive' into the idea of sustainability, which
then created clear connections between theory and practice, and gave
practical tools for working in the field."
-N. participant in the strategic sustainability planning course for local government:

As part of our renewed strategy, Heschel is now looking to scale up these transformative
learning models. If until now we reached about 100 change makers per year through
ongoing trainings and courses, our current goal is to enroll 500 participants per year
within two years' time, while retaining the depth and quality of learning, strengthening our
evaluation metrics and processes. In short: making more courses available to more people.
New modules planned for the upcoming year include:

1. Facilitating Transformative Learning for Sustainability - Training a cadre of
expert facilitation - 10 training days for 15 participants in the first year. These facilitators
will allow us to expand and widen the impact of the Center for Sustainability Studies.

Regional Heschel Fellows Programs – Building on the success of the Heschel Fellows
model, we will launch two new Regional Fellows programs in 2016 with focus on local
social and environmental challenges. Particular emphasis will be placed on acquiring
tools and skills to forge inter-sectorial and inter cultural collaborations and to pool
resources for innovation at the local and regional levels. The new formats to
be launched: a) Heschel Fellows- North in conjunction with the Sakhnin TAEQ
Environmental Center will focus on Jewish Arab cooperative sustainability ventures b)
Ramat Hanadiv- Heschel Fellows in conjunction with the Ramat Hanadiv in Binyamina.
3. On-line Courses: As part of our strategic aim of reaching broader sectors of the
Israeli public, we are developing MOOCs – the first free online introductory
course in sustainability in Hebrew for the public at large.
4. Poor World – Rich World and Climate Change - First time ever on-line course
developed for high school teachers and approved by the Ministry of Education, The
focus: understanding the great twin challenges facing humanity in the 21st century how to teach about them and how to engage students in social activism to address them.


Liat Zvi worked for many years in top advertising firms. She talks about her
experience at Heschel and the intensive Fellows year: "Heschel programs
are a rare phenomenon in Israel. Very busy, top level people in their fields
come together to be even more busy about things that really matter, and with
no immediate remuneration. Thus, in one class you will find- a manager of a
chemical firm, product designer, environmental activist, academic researcher,
architect, marketing director, and an army officer. We came to understand first
hand that sustainability requires synergy. A most inspiring way to learn that
to tackle the environmental challenges in the coming years we will need very
strong cooperation."

Community Place Based Education

Vibrant community place-based alternatives offer an antidote to the over-digitized
consumer experience that takes up all too much of childhood today. Rooted in a
compelling worldview of education as intimately linked to community, the natural world
and civic involvement - CPBE seeks to connect people and places in an engaging
way. Integrating hands-on community projects in education that enrich personal and
communal identity (ie: local histories, renovation and restoration projects, volunteering
and mentorship) open exciting opportunities for inclusive civic involvement at the local
level. A chance for young people to belong, be proactive and to make a difference –
all necessary drivers for the transition to a sustainable way of life.
The Heschel Center was instrumental in setting up the Green Schools Network
in Israel (Reshet Yeruka) 15 years ago, which has trained teachers in hundreds
of schools across the country to infuse sustainability across their curricula. The
Network and Heschel then went on to develop the CPBE model to mobilize local
educational authorities around place- based education, as part and parcel of a
holistic educational strategy for their community.
Milestones reached:
• Five cities and towns have adopted the CPBE integrated model as strategy for
their local education system- including the Arab town of Jatt and the city of Mizpe
Ramon in the Negev.
• A National Conference on place -based education attracted over 750 practitioners
at the Kibbutzim College, showcasing approached and good practices.
• We developed an array of curriculum materials including a Handbook of CPBE
Guidelines for communities.
• Two successful CPBE training courses for 40 local education leaders.

Preschool Gardening

Community Garden at Kefar Saba

We are currently forging a partnership with several educational change
organizations to leverage CPBE to reach many more cities and towns.