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Pavlo Bondarenko, co-founder of community “Podil Radio”

"I am from Kropyvnytskyi. We moved to Kyiv when I was 12 years. My parents decided to leave the town to have better perspectives as nothing changed there. I had a cool childhood. I was raised in complete love, in a complete family of my mother, father, grannies, and grandpas from my mother’s and father’s side. I was not ready for Kyiv. This city was more brutal than my small and warm hometown, where everyone knew each other. Where all people are friends, and you have a great class. In Kyiv, it turned out that you are weak if you are high, have long hair, and try to communicate and understand people. And what should people do with confusing and vulnerable people? Abuse. Nowadays I sometimes don’t want to have breakfast. It comes from times when I didn’t want to go to school. I wanted to throw up because of fear.

My height is 201 centimeters, I do sport, and knowing that I am a big guy, I never use my strength as I know it may cause some trouble. Well, I did have to drag out a fight. And it solved all the problems at once.

Kyiv felt weird and fast. I have been living in the Obolon district since the move. I live in a very cozy place, not far from “Natalka” park. It may be one of the reasons why I am still here.

If I hadn’t lived by the park and water, perhaps I would not have been in Kyiv already. I have rather controversial relations with this city.

When I come to Lviv or Kropyvnytskyi, I feel drugged– it seems that I am twice faster than others.

Kyiv had a fierce tempo. You know, cars are the best example of it. There exists such notion as a flow: when people don’t follow traffic rules but go as a stream. If you start following traffic rules, the less that can happen to you is that people start honking, and someone can hit the bumper. The same you feel about Kyiv. You either accept the rules of a game and move at maximum speed, or you learn how to prevent yourself from diabolical speed and how to recover from it. Otherwise, you just constantly feel in the wrong place absorbing this tempo and continuously burn out like a damn Fenix. You work for three months. Then you burn out three months. Luckily, I found the best rhythm for me, and I have lived in it for two years. The main thing is that I control it, and not the context controls me.

My self-awareness as a citizen of Ukraine started with fear and trauma. Events on Maidan and the war affected me very much because at that time, I clearly realized the whole meaning of threat and danger and why it is so important to tell that there is a war in Ukraine, that the Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions are temporary occupied territories and why it is so important not to cooperate with the enemy. I came on Maidan being a hipster who doesn’t know anything. During the revolution, I experienced not only cleaning snow and eating sandwiches but also helping injured people. My mom and dad evacuated from burning The Trade Unions building. My mom was a doctor on revolution. We are an ordinary family from Kropyvnytskyi, and before Maidan, Bandera and other patriotic stuff were so far from us as some other stuff from Russia.

When Maidan finished, I was broken inside, exhausted. I spoke Russian. I started speaking purely Ukrainian when I volunteered in the organization “Protection of patriots” run by Uliana and Mark Supruns’ as they simply did not understand me. It was the first case in my life when Ukrainian-speaking people in Ukraine didn’t understand Russian.

At one moment in my life, I wanted to create a community around me. It was a need to be equal among equal people.

When you consciously notice unfairness and fight with it, you become a rather lonely person in this feeling of injustice. You have the same bunch of “Rain Men,” and all these people attend the same law courts and protests, and other people are in their parallel lives and comfort, and I don’t judge these people at all. If more people join the discussion, the more the flow of toughness is distributed, and as a result, it is not as though as it could be. I felt it when I was lonely and when I felt loneliness. In the beginning, I tried to get shut this feeling by joining different volunteer organizations. I entered Ukrainian Catholic University to study management of unprofitable organizations and decided to create “Podil Radio.” It is an independent Ukrainian-speaking community of podcasts that tells about the development of civil society, “decent” enterprise, practical culture, and technologies. It is not mass media; it is the community and podcast manufactory. For me, it is a crossing place that connects a particular group of people according to their values and feeling of time. And the place where the narrative is created.

We talk without a need to persuade people and make them follow us. According to the rules of low media, we create a replica directed to receiving a reply, a mutual replica, and building a dialog. Our community allows me to be who I am because you exist among equal people and let yourself make mistakes and tell what you think and what is right. It is a state when you can be productive for the sake of mutual well-being and, firstly, for yourself. It is called acceptable/normal selfishness, meaning that we can fully serve others and do something mutual and useful only when we fulfill our needs completely.

The fact that every day in Ukraine is a struggle exhausts you. It is difficult for me to work in such an atmosphere as I want to perform high-level stuff like my podcasts' sound design, but I can’t.

For me, comfortable life is possible only if it is the same for society and if the community builds all these processes.

I am not a professional protester; my dream is to wake up when I don’t need to think where my phone lies and worry that someone is being beaten now or anything else. I want to have a slow breakfast that slowly becomes lunch. I want to have a good talk. I understand that it is my choice to struggle with someone who decided to take away my freedom. I made it on my first night on Maidan. That’s how it started. If you follow the context, read the news, keep track of everything, you begin to see a huge flow of injustice. And thus, you have only two variants: either to burn out in all of this or try to do something.

You can’t reach some changes only with the help of protest demonstrations. You reach them via state policy. In fact, every demonstration, every protest is protection because we are being attacked again. If we don’t lead them, the government will twist around your finger and slowly transform us into Russia or Belarus. Government officials shouldn’t be afraid of citizens. They should implement the Ukrainian Constitution and Laws and ensure free space for citizens' rights, freedoms, and responsibilities. When I see unfairness, I try to protect my rights and responsibilities. Justice is a set of rules that all of us accept and follow consciously. Now, my project “Podil Radio” is my way to create prospectively long-term favorable circumstances to form a community with all the mechanisms and sources to establish justice.

I really don’t want to wake up just one day and understand that everything “ain’t working.” It would be much easier to realize myself abroad.

Each neurotic has some escapist dream. My escapist dream is a house in the woods, my manufactory of the woodwork and a sheepdog.

I am a prominent adherent of maker culture. If the train should be painted and sent to Mariupol, it is a rest for me. Hohol Train is a great story. If you need help to create a techno-scene at Space camp that works using solar panels and brings it out of the town, then hello, I am here. You need to bring up the radio, which should work – I am ready. When I do such things with my hands, I rest a lot. I value slow talks when you gather with people you appreciate a lot and just talk. When I have some free time I ride a bicycle, have long strolls, go for sport. I don’t have a dog, but I often spend time in the park “Natalka,” and I even know a schedule of every dog’s walking. When it is warm, I drink a coffee in the morning and just stare at dogs.

I am standing now in front of the building Hostynnyi Dvir which became for me a symbol of all changes that happened to the city. Thanks to Maidan, it was saved from the complete disruption, and there is still an opportunity to renovate it.

I dream of creating a space for the community in Hostynnyi Dvir somehow.

For me, a perfect image of the world is the world where grannies sew or knit in the daytime and people gather at concerts in the evening. Businesses should certainly join building renovation as it costs a vast sum of money and it is impossible to do it without big business. Community interests should be represented at such place, just like Urban Space 500 or “Pronprylad” in Ivano-Frankivsk founded by Yurko Fyliuk.”

Pavlo Bondarenko, co-founder of community “Podil Radio”


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