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Save Fesenko Printing House

Advocacy campaign to protect the Yefim Fesenko Printing House in Odesa, which was the centre of Ukrainian culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We created a community of local residents, public figures and, together with some deputies and lawyers, protected architectural monuments from destruction at the local and state levels.


Training of the team on the project "Strengthening civic activism among young people". We won the project competition

2022 to present
Volunteering through War

Engaged in ongoing volunteer efforts to support the Armed Forces, IDPs, and affected communities, including educational and psychological projects.

Culture and Charity

Organisation of charity the Jazz Autumn festival with performances by musicians and lectures on jazz. We held themed parties, including networking events in the catacombs. We communicated, had fun, and thus attracted new people to the community and social activities.

War: causes, consequences and what to do next

Implemented "War: causes, consequences and what to do next" project. The discussion and therapy project was organised into 3 blocks, dedicated to rethinking propaganda, totalitarian experience and war trauma. The sustainability of the project was consolidated in cooperation with the psychologists of the Cotillion NGO, with whom we continued workshops on the integration of the military into civilian life.

Hackathon: the Idea Accelerator

“Hackathon: the Idea Accelerator” project launched. Together with the NGO Dobro Youth Centre DOBRO, we held 3 sets of training for public figures, volunteers and active citizens, plus creative networking. The programme covered many topics, from community building to project management. We formed a community of 30 civil society organisations and 140+ active citizens. We have created a community, strengthened horizontal ties, and enhanced the growth of organisations involving IDPs (local and relocated).

Democracy through the eyes of children

In cooperation with the NGO DOBRO and other organisations, we implemented a training project for young people aged 12-16. The aim of the project is to show social problems through the eyes of children, as well as to integrate and adapt IDP children. The children learned how to direct, shoot and edit videos from professional journalists of Suspilne Odesa, and the basics of democracy from public figures.  The mentors were well-known bloggers from Odesa and TOT. The project was a success. Two sessions were held, and about 50 children were involved in the activities.

01.2024 to present
Democratic Library

Developing and implementing Library transformation project. As IDP integration stabilises, our focus shifts towards cultural initiatives and public library transformations to address identity, trauma, and the community's cultural needs.

In December 2020, news broke of the demolition of historic buildings, the Yefim Fesenko Printing House and the Richelieu Theater on Richelieu Street in Odesa. The printing house was once the center of the city’s Ukrainian history, and the theater showed the first silent movie, both buildings are unique and valuable. Our team began to form during the defense, rallies, confrontation with thugs, corruption of the courts, and in general during a fierce advocacy campaign to protect the buildings. The struggle was led mainly by our then small group of activists, residents of neighboring buildings, a few deputies, and people from the general public joined the protests and demonstrations. After more than half a year of fighting, the buildings were demolished, but together we managed to get the neighboring buildings, which were also architectural monuments, reinforced and thus prevented their possible destruction. 

In the course of the struggle, which lasted almost a year, we managed to create a space of trust. We realized that we can build friendship and create a community around common values. Trust, shared values, and the desire for development became the basis for the growth of civic activism. This struggle united us, and many people became friends of our community, those who were ready to draw posters, donate to the court proceedings, come to the rally, bring food, support and take care of each other.

Our community brought together people from completely different fields – a Polish language teacher, a marketer, a journalist, several programmers, an artist, a lawyer, a designer, an engineer, a director, and many other interesting personalities. Working together created a spirit of closeness, equality and trust, and we wanted to make life in Odesa better together. The only formal part left was to register the organization in order to interact with the authorities, other public organizations and institutions. And the basis for all this was our friendship. 

After the advocacy campaign, we studied project management to be able to transform our ideas into projects and apply for funding. And we received our first grant. We developed a project that was supposed to be an impetus for the Odesa community, authorities, business, and all stakeholders to look at the architectural heritage of Odesa as a resource. The project was to begin with a large forum on the issues and resources of architectural heritage. In addition to the formal part, we planned to involve artists and architects to engage the cultural, sensual sphere, and the living of certain experiences in order to have a deeper impact on the target audience.

At that moment, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

The start of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022 did not change our intentions, only adjusted them – we had to respond to the challenges. We volunteered, helped voluntary centers and internally displaced persons. But we still wanted to be involved in community and social development, culture, education and networking. Together with well-known Odesa jazz musicians, we organized the charity jazz festival “Jazz Autumn”, lectures on jazz in the world and in Ukraine, and themed parties. We held creative networking events and meetings, for example, in the catacombs. We cooked risotto together, watched movies, talked, listened to jazz, and… involved new people in our activities. 

From the advocacy campaign to protect the architectural heritage, we realized that the root of the problem lies in the low participation of Odesa residents in city governance. People were mostly unaware of the cultural value of the buildings, or believed that the struggle was futile because everything had been decided without their participation. This advocacy campaign highlighted many issues for us: the passivity of residents, their distrust of activists, general distrust of the authorities and the scant ability of the community to influence decision-making, the interconnectedness between the actions of the authorities and builders, and the inability to find understanding between the parties.

Therefore, as a result of the struggle and reflection, we realized that we wanted to work not with the consequences, but with the root causes of the current state of our society.  And we focused on education and democracy development. 

Most of all, we value trust and friendship. After the start of the full-scale invasion and the experience of volunteering, we made real friendships with many responsible and experienced figures. We organized educational events, lectures, and networking events for active citizens. In the project we funded at our own expense, “War. Causes, Consequences, and What to Do Next”, we worked with a political scientist, psychologists, and public figures. Then, together with the Cotillion NGO, we continued to give lectures to a wide audience on how our society should adapt and change to make the return of veterans from war more favorable and comfortable.  

In 2023, we implemented several projects together with the NGO Dobropillya Youth Center “DOBRO”. We organized 3 sets of training for public figures, volunteers, and active citizens. Hackathon “Ideas Accelerator” included very different topics – from community building to project management. As a result, a community of about 40 civil society organizations and 140+ active citizens was formed. 

We organized a training for young people aged 12-16 called Democracy through the Eyes of Children, during which children learned the basics of democracy from public figures, and from professional journalists at Suspilne Odesa how to write scripts, shoot and edit videos, and showcase current issues that concern young people. 

All of these projects were aimed at integrating and adapting internally displaced persons, but their main results were networking, forming active communities, and strengthening horizontal ties, all in order to interact more effectively and influence changes in society. 

To develop the organization, our team is constantly learning. The head of the organization, Olena Tsedilina, received a scholarship and studied at the International People’s College, and in March 2024, she took part in a seminar on integration through the culture of Ukrainian refugees in Ikast-Brande library (Denmark) with the participation of NGOs and librarians from Finland, Latvia and Estonia. 

The Danish experience revealed the importance of dialogue, living the experience of mutual understanding, finding common solutions, skills of responsible attitude to the common space, non-formal education and a deep understanding of oneself and others as individuals. It showed the value of adult education, conflict resolution, and the practice of democratic processes in everything. 

You can contribute by joining our initiatives and projects that are focused on engaging citizens in active participation in decision-making. This can be through participation in public dialogues, working with youth, or contributing to the development of local communities.

Each of our projects aims not only to achieve specific results, but also to develop trust, responsibility and love for our homeland. We do not focus on a single issue. We focus on people and communities. If you have your own idea and need resources, knowledge, and the help of friends on your way, you are welcome to contact us!

It’s easy to join our community! Fill out the form above to tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests. After checking the information, we will add you to our community chat, where you can read about current projects, choose the area of activity that interests you most, and start contributing to the common cause. You can also subscribe to our social networks wherever you like and follow our events. So you can come and meet us in person.

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