Raves, Repairs, And Renewal: How Young Ukrainians Are Bringing Joy To The Rebuilding Effort

Raves, Repairs, And Renewal: How Young Ukrainians Are Bringing Joy To The Rebuilding Effort

After more than 250 days of attacks by Russian troops, the Ukrainian resistance is taking a more peculiar form. In an attempt to reconnect with its pre-invasion high-tech scene, a group of young activists organized "recovery streams" so people could help with the massive cleanup, dancing as they did so.

As of August, more than 100,000 homes in Ukraine are estimated to have been destroyed, but more than 700 major cultural sites and 20 youth centers are now in ruins. Teenagers and 20-somethings who hit these spots now come together as volunteers to clean up debris and repair infrastructure at strategically placed stands while their favorite DJs dance.

The team of young activists and music lovers behind Repair Together joins a long line of design activists who rely on joy, humor, and friendship—what we call joy tactics—to engage and sustain a strong movement of people helping to repair war. A torn country.

What is the "rehabilitation delirium" movement in Ukraine?

For those new to the term, a rave is a dance party (often free, sometimes not quite legal) where DJs play electronic music (mainly techno) for people who like to dance and dance hard.

As many war-torn cities begin to rebuild, a group of young, enthusiastic runners begin organizing recovery walks to fulfill community service needs. As winter approaches, the need to clear debris and build housing becomes increasingly urgent. Repair Together's latest Instagram post invites followers to share in the glory of Kiev today.

In a recent interview with Dazed, one of the organizers, Marina Grebina, shared that the crowd has grown from 50 volunteers at their first event in Yahidni in July 2022 and has recently come from as far away as the United States.

Grebina explains that death parties are carefully organized;

But it was a good way to involve a lot of people, and we really wanted to make volunteering a lifestyle choice... Now, after three months of working on this project, we see a lot of familiar faces. Now many people do it regularly.

Responsive, creative, this type of social phenomenon has two powerful effects. The first is for those directly affected by the violence of war, reuniting with each other and with the culture and music they love while coping with the physical and psychological stress of war.

The second is for people sensitive to the sad news of protracted conflict, who recoil yet again at the seeming incongruity of violence and loss as well as joy. The idea that people can have fun, even make peace, try to rebuild a sense of "home" in times of war, doesn't fit the conflict, misery, and suffering we see.

Skip the conversation

Repair Together events are a good example of large-scale design activism that is not immediately recognizable as activism.

Volunteers bond with each other through music, but also spend time listening to the stories of survivors in these cities as they work to strengthen their resolve to build a "new Ukraine." Visual communication (social media collages, event videos) is an invitation to challenge the paralysis of oppressive violence and be an active part of that future.

This is a great example of the future design I study and teach, where people share details of the future or their preferred society and then screw it up without expecting it to do it for them/us.

These voices of innovation are found in a rich history of activism that takes surprising forms, intersects with cultural events in new ways, and engages people beyond fundraisers, rallies, and petitions, into what design researchers Lenskjold, Olander, and Hals call "performance." Focused. In this 2015 version "...cooperation, not obedience".

Team with a purpose and transient neighbors

Here in Australia we are familiar with holidays. Queer and First Nations communities lead the way with Sydney's Mardi Gras, while loose party groups like Ohms Not Bombs ("Dig for Sound, Not Uranium") have been mobilizing people for protest parties for more than 30 years.

Read more The city is like a laboratory. What does post-earthquake Christchurch teach us about urban recovery and transformation?

Clean, design and rebuild by the Repair Together movement reflects the creative collaboration of Christchurch residents after the earthquake. With 80% of the city center destroyed and more than 10,000 homes destroyed, "urban regeneration and transformation" took on strange forms like machine-washable carpets and port-a-louis designs.

Years after the earthquake, Dr Barnaby Bennett, chairman of the Christchurch Architectural Trust, said:

Hundreds of temporary and transitional projects continue to pop up in the city. International interest in adaptive urbanism and temporary architectural forms has led media such as The New York Times and Lonely Planet to praise the vibrant and innovative

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nature of the project as a symbol of renaissance.

The actual activity is over, enjoy!

Fatigue and paralysis are common responses to overlapping crises and terrifying information.

This is especially true for long range and overlapping battles. If your work and activities do not produce results, it is difficult to move forward. The general approach is to burn hard and incinerate, with the latter group following volunteers. This is typical of environmental struggles, and certainly present in all struggles against systemic issues like racism and sexism, which sometimes, even with small victories, seem insurmountable.

But activism can take unexpected and joyful forms, intersecting with cultural events and ways of living together that actually inspire, connect and inform people.

We need to learn from these creative approaches, especially as anti-protest laws (especially regarding climate activism) continue to be strengthened.

Dissident Youth of the Republic. Ireland's Young Warriors

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