BTF works in a number of locations in Israel and internationally. Our work is both place-based and faith-based.

Israel - Beit Shean

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About Beit Shean

Beit Shean is a town in the north east of Israel just 10 kms from the border with Jordan and in the heart of Israel’s agricultural belt. It is an ancient city that was on the main trade route from Egypt to Syria in the Roman and Byzantium periods. Today. the population is around 17,000 and most are descendants of Jews from Morocco, Tunisia, Syria and Iraq.

The town has a small industrial area but it employs very few people. In general wages are low due to the lack of local work opportunities and poor public transportation makes it difficult for people to travel far for work. Relative to other towns in Israel, car ownership is low.The town’s main economy is from retail trade. Recently, Beit Shean has started to develop but growth is slower than other similar towns in Israel. The railway line from Beit Shean to Haifa is due to open in 2016, and together with an improved road network and a more active local economy, Beit Shean has great potential to increase trade and employment options for residents and to attract new families.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2009 - current.

Type of Intervention: Locality wide.

Intervention Areas:

  • Mentoring neighborhood coordinators and community building
  • Increasing inter-action between self-run community networks
  • Improving local capacities for maintaining community change
  • Partnership development between residents, city council, national government and third sector
  • Coordination of demographic growth initiatives
  • Locally led tourism

BTF work plan 2016-17

BTF end of year report 2014-15

Case study - Neve Nahal community network

Study on the impact of the new railway line

Celebrating the Beit Shean Valley of Springs and Cleveland partnership

ESRA article on Ethiopian Heritage Center in Beit Shean

Israel - Valley of Springs

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About the Valley of Springs

The Valley of Springs is a regional council  in the north east of Israel. It comprises of 24 different communities each with their own independent local council/decision making structures. Some are kibbutzim (full cooperatives), others are villages (moshavim). The population is around 23,000.

The functions of the regional council are therefore similar in some ways to a county council which provides some shared services such as refuse collection, welfare services, education and culture. The council is adjacent to the city of Beit Shean and some of the communities are just 2-3 kms from the border with Jordan. The communities are overwhelmingly agricultural although some of the communities have small light industry but the employment opportunities are limited. Again, the arrival of the railway stands to increase both employment opportunities and inward migration which has been steadily increasing over the last 5 years.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2010 - current.

Type of Intervention: Locality-wide.

Intervention Areas:

  • Mentoring community organizers
  • Increasing inter-action between self-run community networks
  • Improving local capacities for maintaining community change
  • Coordination of demographic growth initiatives
  • Locally led tourism

BTF end of year report 2014-15

BTF work Plan 2016-17

How we assess when to fade out of an intervention

Israel - Sderot

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About Sderot

Sderot is town in Israel, located less than a mile from Gaza (the closest point is 840 m). The population is around 22,000 with people mainly from Morocco, the former Soviet Union and Kurdistan. Transportation links with the center of Israel are good, and although employment opportunities are not very extensive in the town itself, there is a well established arts and further education college. Sderot is only 40 kms from Beer Sheba which has an excellent university, hi tech parks and a teaching hospital.

Because of its proximity to Gaza, recent years have seen major disruption with many residents having to leave for periods during hostilities.  There are many third sector organizations but coordination and collaboration is low.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2015 - current.

Type of Intervention: Locality-wide.

Intervention Areas:

  • Building inter-connections between community networks
  • Asset based community building
  • Increased cooperation between third sector groups
  • Joint projects between the city council and residents

 

BTF Sderot work plan 2016-17

 

Israel - Jizr a Zarqa

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About Jizr a Zarqa

Jisr az-Zarqa is the only Arab town in Israel located on the the Mediterranean coast and has a population of around 30,00. Jizr is adjacent to the thriving and ancient town of Caesaria. The town is located within Israel’s central economic and tourism belt. Yet despite its excellent location, the town is cut-off and both rail and public transport access is limited. However, a new interchange is being planned. The municipality of Jisr az-Zarka is seeking to promote environmental tourism to the town and its beachfront.

In common with many Arab towns in Israel, economic activity within the towns is limited and wages are generally very low. Unemployment and youth at risk are both high.

Interestingly, a local resident, Mariam Amash, applied for a new identity card in Hadera in February 2008, using a birth document issued by the Ottoman Empire showing she was born in 1888. If verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, this would have made her the oldest living person in the world at 120. She died on December 22, 2012 at the age of 124.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2005 - 2009.

Type of Intervention: Locality-wide.

Intervention Areas:

  • Generating local and civic pride
  • Stimulating self-run community networks
  • Improving national government and local council relationships
  • Lobbying for improved road infrastructure
  • Improving local capacities for maintaining community change
  • Locally led tourism

 

Final report on Jizr a Zarqa

Urban Affairs conference presentation about community change in Jizr a Zarqa

Russia - St Petersburg

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About St Petersburg

St Petersburg has a population of around 4.5 million, of which there are an estimated 50,000 Jews. As Russia’s second city it has many different vibrant communities and is recognized internationally as one of the world’s great tourist cities.

As with all religious groups, Jewish life was stifled during the Communist regime but today Jews are once again meet for cultural activities. As with all minorities, the Jewish community struggles to find its place alongside mainstream Russian culture and many of the organizations have become reliant on outside support, which in turn has led to some a culture of dependency and competition between community organizations for diminishing financial resources.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2015 - current.

Type of Intervention: Faith-based.

Intervention Areas:

  • Lifecycle and asset mapping
  • Capacity building to increase Jewish community resilience

RELATED ARTICLES

Example of BTF's lifecycle mapping tool

Example of BTF asset mapping tool

 

Ukraine - Kharkov

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About Kharkov

Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine and is in the north-east of the country with a population of about 1.5 million people. The city was founded in 1654 and grew to be a major center of Ukrainian industry, trade and culture within the Russian Empire and then later as part of the Soviet Union. Today , Kharkov is a large city with many universities and cultural facilities.

The Jewish community of Kharkov is under 1% of the population, a dramatic reduction from pre WWII, when Jews were approximately 20% of the population. As with all religious groups, Jewish life was stifled during the Communist regime but today Jews are once again able to meet for cultural activities. As with all minorities, the Jewish community struggles to find its place alongside mainstream Russian culture and many of the organizations have become reliant on outside support, which in turn has led to a culture of dependency on the one hand, and competition between community organizations for diminishing financial resources, on the other.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2015 - current.

Type of Intervention: Faith-based.

Intervention Areas:

  • Lifecycle and asset mapping
  • Capacity building to increase community resilience

 RELATED ARTICLES

Example of BTF's lifecycle mapping tool

Example of BTF asset mapping tool

USA - Cleveland

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About Cleveland

Cleveland is a major city in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. Landmarks dating to its days as a turn-of-the-20th-century manufacturing center It's also home to one of the leading medical institutions in the US, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland suffered from a declining population due to industrial and economic decline and today it has a population of around 400,000.

There are many different ethnic communities from Poland, Slovenia, Vietnam and more. Approximately 60% are Blacks and Hispanics. There is a small and vibrant Jewish community a number of whom are active in downtown community projects. The characteristics of Cleveland’s downtown are typical of cities that have suffered from the loss of manufacturing. To address the needs of downtown residents, there are sseveral community development corporations (CDCs) that use an asset-based approach to improve living conditions, life opportunities, and to help create cohesive downtown communities.

BTF's Intervention

Period of Activity: 2015 - current.

Type of Intervention: Locality-wide (Downtown)

Intervention Areas:

  • Capacity building to increase community resilience and inter-ethnic relationships

 

 RELATED ARTICLES

Crain's Cleveland Business GEAR article 2016-01

GEAR CNP report final 2015-12-18