It’s happened to each and every one of us.
You’re at the beach in Tel Aviv, surrounded by white sand, blue sea, shining sun…and, of course, bronzed bodies. With the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store, you run to the water and jump in. “This is just too perfect! This has to be a dream!” you think to yourself. You dip your head, envisioning yourself recreating one of those movie scenes where you emerge from the water with your hair slicked, basking in the Mediterranean sun.
Unfortunately, when you break the surface, you find yourself donning a hat…an empty Bamba bag that somebody threw in the water.
Not into the beach? May you have walked the streets of holy Jerusalem only to find cigarette butts strewn across the ancient stones? Perhaps you have hiked the green hills of the North and found yourself questioning if empty plastic bottles are a form of natural plant life that grows in the region? Or could it be that you have trekked through the desert and stopped questioning how deserted it was because there was enough garbage left on the trails to signal the existence of human life.
A few weeks ago, four Israel Government Fellows, non-Israelis who committed themselves to the State of Israel for ten months by contributing their unique talents in government ministries while living the Israeli life, were discussing this problem at Masa’s Building Future Leadership (BFL) Program in Jerusalem. After yearning to reclaim the land of our forefathers for millennia, how could we then return just to litter? They recognized that the only way to revitalize the land would be to reconnect the Jewish people to it. Only by taking the reins and leading by example could this vision of a cleaner, greener Israel become a reality.
Enter Clean the Land.
Clean the Land (CtL) is a social initiative with two simple components: a coordinated, annual, nation-wide trash pickup day, and, a mission to educate communities about recycling, sustainability and environmental protection.
The initiative aims to not only clean up the Land of Israel, but to instill within its people a respect for the land and to refresh their connection to it. CtL employs what the founders call a “village model” whereby leaders within the community accept the responsibility of organizing Clean Teams and sites. The concept behind this approach is twofold: 1) a far greater impact can be achieved when there are numerous coordinated satellite operations rather than a single massive clean-up, and 2) people will be more likely to join the effort when they are improving the places that are important to them as individuals.
The date for the inaugural Clean the Land Day will be Friday, May 18, 2012. We invite you to join us by leading a Clean Team or by joining one.
You can sign-up on our website at http://www.cleantheland.org/sign-up.html.
Most importantly, we encourage each of you to reach out to the people around you – family, friends, classmates, colleagues, congregation, city council, the guy who runs the falafel stand, etc. – and get them involved.
CtL’s motto is Love It. Live It. Clean It. Each of us came to Israel because, as the homeland of the Jewish people, it is the place we love. Because of that love, we came here to live Israel, not just experience it through the window of a bus. Now that we are living it, we believe it is our responsibility to take the initiative, set the example, and Clean the Land.
We’re looking forward to the day when we’ll be able to have that magical movie moment where we break through the water, walk the Old City, hike the Golan, or trek the Negev with no garbage in sight.
Join us. Clean the Land. Friday, May 18, 2012.