Israel Environment Bulletin Autumn 1992-5753, Vol. 15, No. 4

THE COUNCIL FOR A BEAUTIFUL ISRAEL

The Council for a Beautiful Israel (CBI) was founded in 1968 when it became apparent that faulty town planning, hurried development, industrial and traffic pollution and a general lack of awareness about the environment had brought on rural and urban blight. Following a debate in the Interior Committee of the Knesset, the Knesset approached Mrs. Aura Herzog to set up a public association of volunteers dedicated to promoting a better quality of life and the environment in Israel. Mrs. Herzog undertook the challenge; today she continues to serve as CBI’s International President.

For nearly a quarter of a century, CBI has striven to fulfill the following goals:

  • to promote environmental and ecological awareness and to initiate environmental education;

  • to fight neglect and litter, to protect the natural beauty of Israel and to preserve its historical sites;

  • to direct physical planning, design and building to aesthetic channels and to contribute to the greening and beautification of the country;

  • to promote the welfare and well-being of citizens through the development of public gardens and parks, sport fields and recreation and leisure sites;

  • to prevent environmental degradation, especially water and air pollution;

  • to encourage and accelerate the rehabilitation of run-down urban areas;

  • to encourage proper maintenance of public areas.

    Working in cooperation and coordination with government and public bodies, CBI’s cadre of thousands of volunteers has spearheaded projects and activities designed to implement the organization’s goals. Over the past two decades, CBI has established dozens of model playgrounds and outdoor areas for the handicapped, saved important landmarks, beautified streets, developed school yards and turned the areas around public shelters into beautiful parks.

    A variety of environmental contests, sponsored for industry, army bases, schools, police stations and gas stations have achieved significant results as well. These competitions, accompanied by educational programs, have helped reduce the devastating long-term effects of pollution while promoting aesthetic values, and hence productivity itself, in the home, workplace, school and even the military.

    CBI Center for Environmental Studies

    With the recent increase in environmental awareness in Israel and worldwide, the CBI has set new goals for itselfgoals which will largely be served by its Center for Environmental Studies, inaugurated in May 1992. The establishment of the center is a major milestone for CBI, enabling all its educational activities to be coordinated under one roof. For CBI, the center represents a symbol of the growing awareness Israelis are placing on quality of life and quality of the environment.

    The CBI Center for Environmental Studies is located on one of the most central and visible sites in Tel Aviv, adjacent to the Yarkon Park. The unique structure, designed in harmony with its surroundings, consists of five pavilions, two terraces and two courtyards surrounded by several acres of demonstration gardens. It houses a comprehensive library and computer database, classrooms, a coffee shop, meeting rooms and an auditorium for lectures, conferences and special presentations. At the heart of the center is an Exhibition Pavilion where local and international displays are open to the public. The center itself is closely linked to similar institutions around the world.

    Operating from morning until night, the center’s popular educational programs focus on the following themes: the built environment; ecology, conservation and recycling; gardening and landscaping; design and aesthetics; basic architecture; preservation; and community beautification.

    A primary feature of the center is hands-on education, utilizing workshops, audio-visual tools, models, simulation kits and computer programs to replace traditional frontal classroom teaching. Lectures, developed by CBI’s interdisciplinary teams of experts, present solutions that anyone can implement. Surrounding the center is a demonstration garden, meant to complement the ongoing educational work undertaken within the center. The garden encompasses demonstration pocket areas on different soils with a variety of shrubs and grasses, top soils, rockeries, creepers, and various ornamental horticultural displays of perennials and annuals. There is also a hands-on section to help people acquire know-how on gardening techniques, such as trimming hedges, pruning trees and using gardening tools.

    CBI believes that there is no better way of reaching the population than through the younger generation. Accordingly, with the encouragement and guidance of the Ministry of Education and Culture, it is developing environmental and ecological courses, which will hopefully reach every junior high school child. Focusing on first hand experience, the courses are based on three concepts: imparting basic knowledge and understanding, demonstrating the interconnection and interrelatedness of environmental and other systems so as to inculcate interdisciplinary thinking, and developing wise decision-making based on a broad understanding and a comprehensive view.

    Flower boxes on windows and terraces, beautiful parks and gardens, improved cleanliness, landscaping and greenery around industrial parksthese are only a handful of the fruits borne by the dedicated work of CBI’s volunteers. Today, more than ever, the CBI is determined to continue to serve as a school of national beauty, a school of environmental commitment to both young and old throughout the country.

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