I work for a social change organization called Eretz-Ir. In fact, I work in resource development, and spend much of my day writing about our incredible social entrepreneurs, who notice a need in their neighborhood and create a change, and about urban communities who unite to imbue young adults with a sense of purpose, and which serve as a platform for improving their cities. I work with people who dream of changing their corner of Israel for the better, and who firmly believe that each dedicated citizen can create real change.
Generally speaking, I am not one of those people. I did my part — I made aliyah to Be’er Sheva. Simply living here is enough pioneering for me.
But our local elections are coming up. A few weeks ago, I realized I had no idea what a city council actually does. Or who was running. I asked around, and none of my friends did either. Many had never even heard the phrase.
That’s when I realized that at some point over the past 2.5 years, Eretz-Ir’s recurrent theme of ‘motivated citizens create solutions for needs in their community’ had sunk in. There was an urgent need for English speakers (and many Hebrew-speakers, but that’s another story) to learn about local elections, and nobody was filling it.
So despite my exhaustion of working full-time with 3 adorable, tiny children, despite my fear of making phone calls in Hebrew, and despite my knowing absolutely nothing about how municipalities work, I decided to create an event for Be’er Sheva’s English speakers that not only explained the purpose and importance of a local council, but invited candidates from all major parties running to introduce themselves and their platforms.
In true Eretz-Ir fashion, I looked for partners in this endeavor, and was blessed to find an immediate partner in Miriam Green of AACI, and in the local Esra chapter. A colleague contacted me with a councilwoman in Givatiyim, who volunteered to be our non-partisan, expert speaker who would give a 15 minute opening lecture on what a city council is, how it operates, and why it is so important to vote for a party that represents your local interests.
I then pulled up a list of current council members, and called a member from every single party with a representative, and invited them to join us and introduce their party to Be’er Sheva’s ever growing English speaking population.
Most were thrilled to hear from me, and scrambled to find a candidate with fluent English who could represent them. I made a functional flyer for the event on Canva, and AACI took care of registration.
And so, last week, 70 English speakers heard from 7 candidates in 5 parties, and learned a great deal about local government, enabling them to make an informed choice when they vote at the end of the month.
And me? Well, I gained the confidence that as a caring local resident, I could fill a need in my own community. Just like the social entrepreneurs and community builders I write about every day.
Are you looking for more information about the city council in your community? There’s a lot of information online. Most city councils even keep an updated list of contact information for current council members. Be in touch if you need help accessing this information.