Building Shared Spaces: Gen Z and the Silent Generation

Shahrit HTH High School



Dudu Zaken

Step 1 FEEL

Beside a local Jerusalem school resides a neglected garden. The garden has been waiting for years to be used by the residents of an old age home nearby but was ignored for years by the residents who felt overwhelmed and saddened by the garden and its appearance. The garden was the answer to the needs of those residents for a place to connect, to speak with others, without fear of illness or putting themselves in danger but alas, it could not be used. Dudu Zaken, teacher, carpenter and gardener, found a lonely old man sitting in the garden alone one day and decided to make a change. Find place for connection. Rejuvenate the garden and make way for relationships between the residents themselves and with the nearby school of students.

Step 2 Imagine

Dudu and his 7th grade students in his carpentry and gardening class at the school decided to take on the project, and make the garden worthy and pleasant to sit in. They would rake, weed, gather up the trash, build, paint and create a beautiful place for the residents to sit and a space of connection for those reisdents and the student.

Step 3DO

For six months, every Monday, Dudu and his class spent two hours working in the Hoffman House garden. The students decided that they should first clean the place of all the garbage that was there, then they decided to weed and gather up all the pine needles that had fallen in the garden over the years of disrepair. They then made the decision to build large planters there, plant flowers, and plant shrubs of rosemary and Valentana along the fence. Girls were given the opportunity to use power tools alongside the boys and find their inner strength. After preparing the groundwork the students organized a joint day of social action together with the Hoffman Knitting and Writing Club, the students presented their initiative process, they planted flowers together, knitted sweaters around the trees, and heard stories from the residents about how nature was in the Jerusalem area during their childhood and finally the students chose one story and illustrated it with a show for the seniors' club. In addition, the students organized refreshments from a variety of fruits and vegetables of the country, drinks and dessert.

Besides the obvouis impact of beautifying a space and creating a connection the students state that they were changed. They learned how to work in a team, be attentive to different opinions and different ideas, They showed patience and forbearance towards each and every one on the team, they learned how to be dynamic and take advantage of every situation to their advantage even when encountering difficulties. They learned how to build a work plan, work with different tools, work with wood, how to cultivate nature within the city for the benefit of the community and in the end they were filled with an incredible sense of pride and satisfaction from the whole process they went through and all the people we influenced. In addition, the students' shared dialogue with the residents revealed a new world . The elderly residents were exposed to caring and valued driven youth, and were delighted to share with them their skills and stories.


Avia- 7th grade students- " We had a good time. Sometimes it wasa really hot and in the beginning it looked like alot of work. But we learned how important Urban Nature is and that we can't give up on it. The Corona made that even more clear because we really needed that nature , like the old people. So we need to take care of it. I also really enjoyed using the power tools. I never thought I would and was scared in the beginning but now I know I can do it." Sonja - age 79- "The students were very sweet. It is a really nice place they built. I also enjoyed sitting with them and telling my stories. They worked hard. I passed by them every week when they were working on the garden and they did a good job."

The project dealt with budgetary issues. Thankfully by sharing this project with many other people- Parks and Forest authority, Jerusalem municipality, the community director of Hoffman house they were able to overcome those obstacles.


Good health and well being

Step 4 SHARE

We shared our initiative first and foremost with school principal Rani Hazon Weiss who gave us any support she could (whether it was fundraising or contacts who could help us carry out the initiative, allocating time within school hours to carry out the initiative, ect). Other partners were Sarah the operations coordinator and the amazing staff of the Hoffman House who immediately responded to our initiative and helped in any way they could. It was also approved by the Nature and Parks Authority who were also an amazing partner all along and supported us in everything we needed. Yael Lehman from the Jerusalem municipality, who is in charge of educational gardens, helped us with knowledge regarding the cultivation of the garden. After sharing the project with the residents, the students shared the project with the school community- staff, fellow students and parents of the whole student body. Lastly, the mayor of Jerusalem came to visit the school with his entourage, heard about the project and supported it.