Empowering city residents to build cities they can thrive in.
Be’er Sheva, Israel
Initiating and engaging
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Residents of modern towns and cities can feel lonely and disconnected. Citizens living at the margins – as members of minority communities or in towns distant from economic power – are particularly disengaged from community life. A generation of younger adults are drawn to larger, more central cities where they believe they’ll have a higher quality of life. In cities of all types, young adults feel disconnected from their communities and disempowered to impact the environment around them in meaningful ways.
Bella has spent her career living out the belief that every citizen has the right and the opportunity to create the city they want to live in. Under her leadership, Eretz-Ir has empowered 53 different communities to improve local education and cultural spaces, while supporting 180 local entrepreneurs. Eretz-Ir projects are designed to create a sense of belonging, ownership, and responsibility that encourages young adults to invest in their local communities. The organization facilitates a network of mission-driven communities who come together in person to discuss how they might provide connection across their respective communities, and in turn, across the country. Besides tangible community improvement projects, participation in the network drives attitudinal shifts – almost quadrupling young adults’ perception of being able to impact their city in a meaningful way.
“In the beginning we worked mostly on Israel’s southern region, and now we are influencing the whole country, working with over 50 cities in order to increase the quality of life by supporting grassroots communities of young residents. When I began my job, the organization was very small—only six workers—and we had a budget of $600,000. After a lot of tough work, believing in people, and developing new ideas, we’re a thriving, professional organization of 80 workers with an annual budget of $5 million.”