an ecological park

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Ariel Sharon… we called him Arik, was a legend in his own lifetime. He was born in the village of Malal, here in Israel, in 1928. He became a central figure in the army when the modern state of Israel came into being, and proved himself a fearless hero and a leader of men. His father was an agronomist. He was a farmer. He had a big farm, and put a lot of work into it, but was always willing to ‘serve the people’. During the 1973 war, after we were attacked on the day of atonement, he went back to the army, though at the time he was already successfully involved in politics. He turned the tide of the war by crossing the Suez Canal and breaching the Egyptian forces on their side.

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He retired from the army with the rank of Major General. Though successful in politics and a hero too, he wasn’t liked by all. He was often involved in controversy. The first real protest movement here against government policy occurred while he was Minister of Defense. In his long career, he served as Minister of Industry and Trade, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Defense. In 2001 he was elected Prime Minister and held the office till 2006. While Prime Minister, he visited the garbage disposal site at Hiriah, near Tel Aviv, and decided to turn one of the ugliest sites in the country into a park.

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When he proposed the project, there were scoffers. But the park did come into being. Not only is it the largest park in the middle east, but its unique ecological character stands as an example to the young. The project demonstrates our ability to change a contaminated site into a place of beauty, relying completely on natural means.

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In 2005, he visited the mountain of garbage in Hiriah, just outside of Tel Aviv, where garbage had piled up for years, and suggested that the mountain be turned into a park. The original garbage pit had become a mountain of garbage. It’s still a mountain. But a pleasant one now. The emphasis is on the use of natural processes to improve the environment.

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There is a pond in middle of the park. It is the visible part of a complex underground water storage pool. A system of four more underground pools is located at the top of the mountain and these pools collect rainwater. Water overflows from the upper pools into the pond at the heart of the mountain.

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The depth of the pond varies and reaches eight feet at its deepest point. Around the pond is constructed wetland. This method helps maintain water quality by flushing the water through a system that uses both filters and water plants to purify the water. Schools of fish were also introduced to the pond to feed on mosquito larvae and other bugs, thus maintaining biological pest control. The pond is an ecological water project which serves as a natural habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including water fowl, amphibians and water insects.

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School children come to visit the park, and are given guided tours in which they learn about nature’s ways of cleaning itself, and how plants and fish and other life forms help purify the water. There are lawns and flower beds, and little rivers that cross the park making it a very pleasant place to visit. The man whose name was tied to bloody battles and fierce controversy is remembered today as a lover of nature. The park is now called the Ariel Sharon Park.

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56 responses to “an ecological park

  1. It is so nice to find a positive and encouraging blogger sharing their love of nature, photography, and writing. Thank you.

    • Thank you for coming by, Curt. Having checked out your blog, I do feel we have a similar attitude towards adventure and learning… and especially a love of nature. A pleasure to meet you.

  2. That’s fascinating Shimon. I didn’t know a lot of that background on him.

    • Very glad to hear that, Edith. For those of us who are older, and remember Sharon from the start of his career, it seems as if everyone knows him well. And so it’s good to know that a post like this can add something even for those who have strong ties to our country.

  3. Thanks for all the background info on Arik.

  4. This is fascinating, that a man so involved in the world of politics and battle was able to express his creative side by working with Mother Nature to form such beauty. Clearly a man way ahead of his time.
    Thank you, Shimon and please give Nechama a big hug from me.xx

    • He had one of those ‘larger than life’ personalities. And there were people who called him a ‘bulldozer’ because he could get impossible things done. But those who saw him on his farm, realized that behind the public personality, he was a very down to earth man. Thanks so much, Janet. I’ll give Nechama a special hug from you. xxx

  5. Great story behind all these beautiful things. Thank you dear Shimon, Have a nice weekend, and a new week, Love, nia

    • Thank you very much, Nia. It does bring hope and a smile, to see something ugly transformed to beautiful… doesn’t it? My best wishes to you too, for a very good week.

  6. I never knew this. Beautiful history and such a man ahead of his time. Have a wonderful weekend, Shimon.

  7. Thanks for sharing. A great resource of great beauty.

  8. Such a creative and natural way of turning an eyesore into a place of beauty and refreshment. The wilderness shall blossom like a rose.

    • It does strengthen us, to see evidence that there is reason for hope. And for many years, this place was a symbol of the negative side of urban life. Thanks for your comment, Gill.

  9. What a fascinating bit of history about a complex man, a visionary. Thank you for sharing him.

    • He truly was an unusual and complex man. He managed to outrage people from every part of the political spectrum, at different times. But looking back, we have to admit that he did try to contribute something of value to society… and was a gifted man. Thanks, Judy.

  10. Wonderful post Shimon. It should happen much more often. I’m seeing some images from India that are breath taking…in the Wrong manner. Holding ones breath even while viewing the piles of garbage. Love your photos here.

    • I have to admit, Bob, that I’m not a great enthusiast of recycling. When they first started doing it here, I just grumbled about having to put waste in different bins. And I’m usually skeptical about the advantages of such projects. But seeing this beautiful park in place of one of the biggest garbage piles in the country did give me hope. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post! What a tribute. I had had never heard of this special park, but will be sure to visit there on my next trip.

    • It’s well worth visiting, Birder. The only thing that’s missing there, is some big shade trees. But I suppose, as time goes by, we’ll have that too. And it’s my intention to focus on a few more interesting parks here. There are quite a few that I love. Thanks for your comment.

      • I look forward to learning more from your posts. I just learned on this last trip about the new Gazelle Valley Park but didn’t get a chance to go there.

        • Thank you, Birder. The Gazelle Valley Park is really a beautiful place to visit, though not really all that new. I used to visit there, and walk around and see the gazelles years ago. At the time, it hadn’t been declared a park, and it was just a favorite spot of many Jerusalemites. What is new, is that they declared it a park, and seemingly brought back some of the gazelles that had been scared off by urban building… and that is indeed, a very positive sign.

  12. What a legacy to leave for one’s country! I love the science of the project, the imagination involved in turning a toxic area into a huge positive, and the photos you shared of the beauty that evolved. Thank you for a wonderful post, Shimon.

    • For years, I used to be curious about the site (when it was a garbage dump) because there were always very interesting birds in the sky above it. But I never got really close. Because as you approached the place, it was just repulsive. Seeing what it has become is inspiring. Thank you, Myra.

  13. Beautiful photos. Nice to hear of someone caring about his country and his land.

    • Especially because this was a person who was so associated with very different kinds of activism. It really encourages hope to see such a change in the environment. Thanks, Bev.

  14. Now isn’t it wonderful to see how a mountain of garbage can be transformed! It just goes to show what’s possible. It is beautiful, and so very inspiring! I did enjoy the pictures, especially of the water lilies and fish.
    I was watching an interesting programme about Japan last night, they had a system of water flowing through peoples homes, they washed their food and dishes in this water and all the scraps were eaten by fish that they kept in the system, the water always remained perfectly clear and fresh.xxx

    • This story from Japan sounds fascinating, Dina. I would love to see the program. I will check to see if it’s on youtube. There are many things to be learned from the Japanese. When I was young, I found inspiration in their culture and religious literature. And yes, seeing what became of this mountain of garbage really gave me hope. Thanks. xxx

  15. The Agronomist in Ariel Sharon was obviously a great love, which knowledge, he put to good use. There are many ecological projects in the UK too. It’s a lovely gift to leave and a great memorial to Sharon, probably, one of the very best.

    We were interested to see the natural cleaning, (a hoovering up of river debris) that was effected by farmed Cat fish at the Jordan River Baptismal site. It gave us a lot of food for thought and discussion points. (No puns intended).

    Super pictures.

    • I have visited the Baptismal site and was impressed. It’s a beautiful place. And I agree with you too, about the memorial for Sharon. He managed to offend so many people in his career, that it is really an unexpected last note, that he left this work, which I believe all can agree on. Thanks for the comment, menhir.

  16. The park is beautiful. What strikes me is that transforming such a place by natural means requires at least three things: knowledge, patience. and a willingness to cede a certain amount of control to nature.

    We have a great deal of knowledge in our country, but when it comes to patience, and relinquishing control, we’re not always so good. Waiting distresses us: sometimes so much so that we’d prefer getting a wrong answer now to waiting for the right answer to reveal itself.

    But in this case, patience and giving nature a chance has paid off handsomely. It’s a place — and a visionary person — to be proud of.

    • I agree with you on all points, Linda. And especially on the issue of patience. We live in an era in which immediate gratification is seen as a virtue. Strangely enough, though, the progress of this project seemed to me to be very quick. When it was started, I didn’t expect to see the fruits of the project in my lifetime. On the other hand, I did expect the inner city light train to provide me with easy transportation in the near future. To my surprise, both of these projects took about the same amount of time. I think that a lot of modern technology was used to speed up the ecological process. In any case, that was what impressed me most; seeing the change from garbage to a beautiful nature spot.

  17. It takes real vision to create a place like this. Ariel Sharon was many things – visionary was one facet of a mighty man. This is a place of beauty and peace. Every country needs a place like this at its heart.

    • We do seem to get used to improvements very quickly; both taking them for granted, and forgetting how impossible it seemed before the change. Which leads me to agree with you, Andy, about his being a visionary. I remember that most of the talk was about moving the mess further away from the city, before he came up with this plan. And now that it’s been shown that there are better ways to preserve our environment, I believe we’ll see more parks like this one. Thanks for the comment.

  18. A very interesting post Shimon. I really didn’t know much about Ariel Sharon. This is a beautiful park, a national treasure to be treasured, much as the man himself was!

    • Thanks very much, Chillbrook. It is a beautiful park. And I’m sure it’ll be still more beautiful after some years go by, and there’ll be more large trees. But what gives me hope is that there’ll be more parks like this, and a general improvement in care for the environment.

  19. I guess he is a testament to the fact that no one is one sided. We are all multifaceted. He seems to have been a thoughtful man who took the time to use his influence and power to improve things not just for the present but for those that have/will come after him. Thank you for this information that so many of us did not know.

    • You’re right, Corina. It’s very easy to label someone… especially someone you don’t agree with. And turn him into a cartoon character. But most of us have many different sides. And he gave us an example. Thank you very much for your comment.

  20. Hey … I found u … smiles … never forgotten, Shimon … me havin a hard time living right now, but everything is gonna be alright … always has and always will … glad u are my friend … Love, cat. https://www.youtube.com/embed/bTNLYeaL7No?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0

    • Thanks very much, cat, for sharing the beautiful song with us. Very sorry to hear of the hard times. How good it is that you have faith in better days ahead. I too had some hard times this winter, and I know how hard it is to keep the right perspective when we’re suffering. Sending you my best wishes, my dear cat.

    • I had never heard of Eva Cassidy before, so I looked her up, and read of her unusual story… that her songs became popular after she was no longer in this world. Thanks again, for introducing me to new people and new sounds (for me).

  21. Interesting post Shimon. Some great images too.

    • Very glad you liked it Peter. I do find some very interesting news on your blog too… Randy Howard RIP… getting hard to be an outlaw these days, eh…. ?

  22. how very inspiring, and a revealing insight into the complexities of PM Sharon who so evidently embraced renewal of land as well as people.

    • Yes Lance, it’s very interesting to watch how prominent people are often turned into cartoons by the news media and partisan politics. And Sharon was a prime example of this, perhaps because of his exceptional personality, which led him, at times, to extreme activities. Thank you very much for your comment.

  23. A wonderful story of this park, Mr. Shimon! This is a beautiful park. It reminds me that we have a very special nature park in town that was donated by a special person.

    • So true, Amy, Parks are such a beautiful contribution to the welfare of every community. Especially for those of us who live in city and towns, they bring a bit of nature into our lives, and offer us a much needed break from constant human activity. And those who build parks for us are truly very special people.

  24. What a wonderful legacy,,,I had not idea…thank you so much for writing about this. I love your photographs. Hugs x

    • Thank you very much, Jane. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I love visiting all sorts of parks. And one of my greatest joys is having a park right behind my home.

  25. Lovely photos, and that’s a great project. I’m glad to hear Israel did this. I used to live in New York City you know, and most recently in its “forgotten borough,” Staten Island. That’s where NYC sent all the trash and garbage for decades, until the mounds grew too high and something else had to be done. It was the biggest landfill in the world, and it was not healthy! Now those mounds (you can imagine the size – all of New York’s garbage, for decades!) are evolving into a huge park. The engineering challenges were incredible, but they are succeeding. They even have gas pipes with vents….when I lived there they were just beginning to open the park and they were giving bus tours to interested people. Here’s a link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fresh_Kills_Landfill

    • Thank you bluebrightly, for sending me this link to the fascinating story from New York. I had never heard about it before, and find it most encouraging to hear that New York is taking the same route to repair their environment, and bring something beautiful and pleasing to a site that was completely contaminated. I read the article immediately after having received it, and it really lifts my heart. The mention of birds of prey sounds very much like what happened here. Though here it seems to have been a natural process. Not something that was brought in to deal with the rats.

  26. Such an interesting story. What a great reclamation project!

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