These days, when you hear of Kyiv in the news, most often it’s in relation to political unrest and uprising. Leave it to the intrepid Maker community to shine a light and bring folks together in the spirit of sharing inspiration and knowledge.
This weekend, on June 6, Ukranian makers will come together for the very first Kyiv Mini Maker Faire, which will be held at G13 Creative Space, housed in a renovated old glass factory. We connected with the event organizers, husband and wife team Yuriy Vlasyuk and Svitlana Bovkun, to find out more.
Yuri and Svitlana were inspired by attending Maker Faire Bay Area, the largest Faire on Earth, and Maker Faire Tokyo. While preparing for their own Faire, they researched by watching roughly 50 videos from Mini Maker Faires across the globe. Yuri explains:
I’ve been an Apple reseller and service provider for 12 years here in the Ukraine. We also work with fun gadgets and drones. We put on many seminars for our clients and also for children. Some of them are about playing music, stop-motion animation, and 3D printing. I also have two sons, and we are all interested in robotics and DIY. I read Make: magazine for three years, and that’s how I learned about Maker Faire.
In Ukraine, we have few resources and a really bad infrastructure. As you know, there was a revolution in Kyiv two years ago, and there is still war in the east now. My friends and I are still reservists. The economy collapsed and the exchange rate fell three times during the last year. Doesn’t sound very appropriate for a fest, right?
But the great thing is that due to all these problems, people changed their attitudes dramatically. We are really building our new society. There’s a real boom of social initiatives, and many people have become volunteers. We support each other as never before.
I had a big wish to show that Ukrainians are really cool and inventive. We analyzed our community and decided to do it. We wrote to the Maker Faire team, and we are boundlessly grateful for this opportunity.
Once they made the decision and started organizing the event, Yuri and Svitlana received a lot of enthusiasm from the community. They also got support from the local offices of business accelerator GrowthUp, Intel, 3M, Ciklum, LiveBoard, iLand, and Solid Heads studio. They found great communities and projects at Kyiv Polytecnical University as well as the five hackerspaces in Kyiv. For this weekend, they have 50 maker projects and workshops lined up. Here are just a few:
What are the unique challenges of organizing an event during political unrest? Yuri explains:
It’s not unique, I think. We fundraised for the event. We asked participants to support one another. We found volunteers and materials, really, everywhere. We do avoid military projects and now some makers are very much involved in them. One participant didn’t get his special IoT kit he ordered from the U.S. for his project because it was stopped at our customs house due to some cameras and sensors being considered as military tools.
Participants are really happy to work together and to know each other. It’s cool. For example, Bigggidea and Izolab, with support from all the other participants, are building a Rube Goldberg machine inspired by the famous OK Go video.
We would say that the current situation stimulates us to act and not to wait.
Adversity or not, I think those are words we can all learn from in true maker spirit. We wish Yuri, Svitlana, and their team the best of luck and look forward to more from the Ukrainian Maker community!
Read more about the Kyiv Mini Maker Faire here!