In the early 2000’s, the destructive ramifications of the Occupation resulting from the Oslo Accords became obvious. Recognizing the importance of creating a national identity rooted in Palestine’s history and heritage, The Rozana Association, in collaboration with the Birzeit Municipality and the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation, a local non-profit focused on preserving rural Palestinian architecture, began the work of developing a plan to restore Birzeit’s historic Center. Rozana’s responsibility was to create the support among the many stakeholders necessary for the project to be successful.
Rozana’s approach was, and continues to be, to identify locally-available resources, including civil and private sector organizations with access to such resources, and to network among them to secure the greatest degree of participation in the project. Community acceptance was critical. Numerous public meetings and planning sessions were held, notes were taken and incorporated into the final plans. Improvements to infrastructure – important to local residents – were planned and undertaken: the water system was upgraded as were local streets many of which were given names for the first time following local community suggestions. For the first time in its history Birzeit had a public open space for children. Rozana’s role – identifying local resources, networking, collaborating — was crucial to finding the consensus among competing local interests and creating the means for community support without which the transformation of Birzeit’s historic center would not have happened.