SHATIL Everett Social Justice Fellow Rama Bor got a byline the other day -- and a chance to influence hundreds of thousands of people.
Rama’s op-ed, “Country, City (Animal Vegetable Mineral)” -- the name of a popular Israeli children’s word game -- appeared on Ynet, Israel’s largest Internet news site, on March 23. In it, Rama bemoaned the distressing deterioration and neglect of Israel’s downtown areas, a process that hurts small businesses, the poor, the environment and city residents. Providing an analysis of the economic and political reasons for this state of affairs, Rama argued persuasively for the renewal of city centers, calling on the government to take action based on approved government programs. Using colorful metaphors, Rama lauded Israeli cities like Kfar Saba, Tel Aviv and Haifa that are pouring resources into reviving their downtown areas.
The piece expressed the opinion of the Forum for Environment and Society, a coalition of environmental and social change organizations in Be’er Sheva, of which SHATIL is a part. Rama’s internship includes media consulting to the Forum and to the SHATIL-led Coalition for Public Health in Ramat Hovav, a polluted, factory laden area of the Negev near several unrecognized Bedouin villages.
Rama said writing the op-ed piece was a challenge. “Each organization has its own agenda and its own opinions. Each one thinks something else should be written. I had to take the consensus views and write something meaningful and newsworthy and interesting that everyone would approve of.”
“Social change organizations are busy with actions, but in order to recruit people as well as funders, you have to have exposure in the media,” Rama says.
Rama, who has also had op-eds published on human rights for the Bedouin and on the environmental impact of IDF bases, says she is happy that these topics are getting the exposure they deserve. She works closely with SHATIL media consultant Ayelet Danon, who, she says, “actually taught me how to write, what to put in and what to leave out, how to edit, how to talk to editors.”
A third year student in education and politics and government at Ben Gurion University, Rama is a third generation sabra from Afula who decided she wanted to experience a new part of the country, and who says she is learning a lot from her Everett internship. “I didn’t know about the environmental problems at Ramat Hovav. I didn’t know much about Bedouins or the issue of the unrecognized villages,” she says. “And I’m learning how to work with the media and about how social change organizations work.”
Her work with SHATIL has convinced Rama that she wants to continue working in a social change organization.
“Civil strength has the power to change the present and the future,” says Rama. “Social change organizations help people to formulate the problems, to raise awareness and give citizens the tools and the strength to believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference.”