All good things must come to an end, in this case it’s this year’s Wiki Loves Monuments contest.
Last year Israel decided to join the international competition. The effort was organized by Wikimedia Israel volunteer Deror Avi, whose astute leadership and exceptional understanding of crowd sourcing transformed the world’s largest photography contest into a far-reaching grassroots outreach initiative.
This year we decided to expand on the success of last year. Our chapter conducted tours to distant heritage sites spanning the country in an effort to encourage more people to participate in the competition. Roughly 400 people participated in the 40 tours that took participants across the israeli country side.
To differentiate the heritage tours from the standard fare offered to tourists, emphasis was placed on training the tour guides. Tour guides were briefed prior to the the heritage tours and provided with an extensive understanding of the competition’s goals. Time was allocated for photography and importance was placed according to a site’s historical value.
To provide our amateur photographers with additional skills, Wikimedia Israel arranged photography workshops conducted by Galitz Photography. The school embraced the movement’s free and open culture and provided their professional services free of charge.
In somewhat surprising fashion, the Israeli media embraced Wiki loves monuments, providing broad and in-depth coverage on the competition. Dozens of articles were printed and broadcasted on a variety of media outlets. Radio channels, TV shows, websites, and local newspapers across the country. The media seemed to show particular interest in the way the competition gave the public the immediate ability to contribute to the universal database of Wikipedia in relation to Israel’s national heritage.
Israel boasts a large number of cultural heritage sites. Despite the abundance of monuments, organizers faced an unusual challenge. Until now there was no official list of sites or monuments. This is in stark contrast with most developed destinations that have properly recognized preservations and national heritage sites.
Wikimedia Israel volunteers have been working diligently for the past two years on creating and updating such a list. Our chapter prides itself on the compilation of this list.
We chose to hold the awards ceremony in Tel Aviv in a building that has recently been designated for preservation, in a sort of nod to the competition’s spirit. The winning photographs were announced and the prizes awarded to the jubilant laureates. Sponsors, partners, Wikimedia Israel members, the winners and their families took part in the event. Following the gala’s conclusion, the 10 winning photographs in the exhibition were transferred to a public exhibit at the “Dizengoff Center,” one of the country’s most lively shopping centers. The mall estimates about 720,000 people have seen the exhibiting in the past month.
At the closing ceremony, Wikimedia Israel Chairperson, Itzik Edri announced that “Wiki loves monuments is not just a project for the benefit of Wikipedia, but is now a project which harnesses the Wikipedia community in favor of raising the international awareness of our cultural heritage and our history.”
Indeed, Wikimedia Israel is proud to have been a part of an international project of this importance. We thank all the organizing teams of international volunteers as well as our volunteers who invested countless hours to make this competition possible. We wish the ten finalist and everyone else who participated the very best of luck. See you next year!
Chen Davidi, Activity Coordinator, Wikimedia Israel