Diversity in the Culture


Diversity in the Culture

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Sustainability springs from pure necessity often times, it appears in the least likely places.  Maybe it’s something created over time or maybe set in motion.  In its purist form, sustainability might be considered a historical mother of invention for the practical.  Solutions define a new direction, a new way forward.  I see this throughout the “Developing World”.

On my bus trip to Odessa from Kiev, though the heartland of “The Ukraine”, you see endless rolling fields planted with young bright green crops in neat rows as far as the eye can see, to the horizon.  Never do you see a single building like a barn, outbuilding, house, shed, windmill, or structure of any kind.  Ever!  The local population lives in sparse villages complete with Le Corbusian high rises looming like citadels on the horizon.  The result of Stalin’s collective farms no doubt, now swallowed up by similar mega agri-businesses as we have in the US.  When Stalin created those Soviet Collectivas  just before WWII with horrific results, the Soviets considered the consequences for the natural environment more than the people.  It was a new social order, with new directions set in motion.  Concerned for the diversity of the environment, its health and ability to thrive, they created long, straight, narrow swaths of forest dividing the massive fields into sectors.  Those linear forests as boundaries now almost a century later form a dense canopy of undergrowth and habitat for all sorts of wildlife; like interconnected fingers teaming with biodiversity stretching across the landscape.  These practices continue today within the massive agribusiness farming.  “Sustainable Collectivism” created a thriving habitat interjected into the mono-culture of industrial farming!   Even the Soviets knew that diversity was sustainable!






Architecture and Sustainability

While we in the US and Western Europe try to figure out how to use less and lower our impact on the planet, places like Eastern Europe, just now awakened by the internet and rapidly changing politics, want more from the less that they have.  This may define the fundamental schism between our two worlds and a rapidly expanding one at that!  I’ve mentioned this in greater detail in this blog below, but if you go to the website Global Footprint Calculator  and take that quiz, you’ll find that we in the US mostly live as if there were 5 or 6 planets!  You’ve probably heard the statistic that in the US, 5% of the world’s population uses 24% of its resources. World Bank Development  Maybe it’s one of the fundamental issues of this crazy Presidential election…the argument of who we are as Americans?  Which direction should be taken from here, given that many are so disillusioned with the current political climate at all levels!  Let me sully the word sustainability a bit further…is our way of life fundamentally sustainable on all levels?

Who was it, I believe Joseph Kennedy that in 1929 was having his shoes shined, and the boy offered up some pop stock tips, to which Kennedy later said…“When my shoeshine boy starts offering stock tips, it’s time to get out of the market.”  He immediately withdrew his investments just before the crash reasoning that when everyone is doing it, it’s time for a change.  Kennedy’s Stock Market Quote.  We in hold onto the same ways of developing our cities and modes of transport, to the same solutions to improve our cities and way of life, our literature discusses the same concepts of society, investment and the environment.  We’ve defined our way of doing things by the way we’ve done them while creating the American Dream!  It may be time for a change.

Our continuing approach to city and architectural development in the US, the fundamental principles and concepts upon which we’ve invested all of our post WWII city development remains unsustainable!  We continue to build bigger highways, making them wider only to be choked immediately after opening.  We devote ever more space to parking and automobile infrastructure in our cities and continue to create endless settlement patterns of suburbs upon suburbs ad infinitum while many urban centers languish in slow decay and neglect.  The rings of development expand outward as the inner city cores become Rust Belt hulks.  Satellite cities now surround many urban centers as a solution to urban blight.  Former great cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, St. Louis, Dayton, Albany, Kansas City, Baltimore, Buffalo, and dozens of others in and around the Rust Belt now require rebuilding and reinvention.  Our previous model is clearly unsustainable, our solutions more of the same!  Albert Einstein is the one credited with saying “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”

Our challenge…how to redesign such places?  How to alter the way things work and move them forward into a new 21st Century city model?  What lessons may be gleaned from such drastically diverse places such as the Eastern Europe and the X Soviet Union, while realigning our future to a more sustainable approach to city designs?  What sustainable methodologies of relating to each other may be developed in our newly globalized society?  What new methods of diverse investment may be implemented to support new sustainable business concepts?  What economic and high tech solutions can we use in helping our increasingly fragile environment?  Eastern Europe was on top of the world a half a millennium ago up to only a century ago, right up until the First World War!  Former world powers now considered the “Developing World”.  Their past and present could be our future; their methodology for sustainable living offering valuable lessons for today.















Eastern European Architecture and Cities

Architecture and city planning are direct results of the culture, politics and economy of any civilization.  Monumental architecture, architectural styles happen as a direct result of the successes of the society; creating monuments to its leadership, economic success and power.  From the earliest civilizations in places such as Suman, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, the architecture and city development created a living history of a society’s past, present and future.  Contemporary examples of historic references include the influences of Greece and Rome on architecture right up to today.  Of course!  A continuing architectural tradition defines a culture.  When a culture ends, when the politics ceases, when the economy dries up, so does the iconic architecture.  The icons however remain as a historic and cultural record, a language of reference.  For Greek and Roman architecture that repeatedly creeps into the architecture of many very disparate cultures, it’s a reference to power and authority through the forms and details of classical elements.  The Soviets utilized these icons repeatedly in every type of building right up to the closing bell to convey the power and stability of their new world order.  So much for that!  Historic preservation remains one of the cornerstones of architectural sustainability.  Historic architecture is what Eastern Europe and specifically Ukraine are all about.  Ukraine contains some of the purest, most untouched European architecture through history in all of Europe!

Little of the cities of Ukraine has changed since Perestroika in 1992 due to the lack of money and few resources to build.  The politics, institutions and business remain tied in knots, looking for a solution.  Most of Ukrainian cities’ architectural and city development remains frozen in time with much of the pre-WWII, 18th and 19th century architecture not only intact, but in its original condition!   During the post WWII era, historic buildings were patched back together, the scale of the destruction just too vast to do much else.  Historic buildings were not torn down, but rebuilt with a minimum of repairs and reconstruction.

New buildings to fill the holes left by war and to mark the new world order focused on Modernism, a new and up to date view of the Soviet Union!  Modernism was of course…modern!   It reinvigorated the war torn cities with a new social order for the cities!  Soviet housing blocks, many blocks long defined the new urban spaces.  Soviet grand boulevards, plazas, promenades, squares focused attention on the grandeur of the State.  Ukraine is currently marking time as their politics sorts out some fundamental issues.  With little money available for new building and most used for rebuilding and repairing what’s there, the historic city in all its layers and glory remains intact.  As the culture and politics remains in a holding pattern, the architecture remains a historical preservation architectural museum of the 20th Century, right up to the Soviet Union’s demise and into a quarter century of Eastern European independence.

Ukraine remains one of the world’s best living architectural museums and monuments to Soviet society.  Soviet style modernism with a distinctly Le Corbusian flavor interjects itself into historic city centers, outlying X urban rings, small towns and villages and landed like space ships in the endless velvety countryside fields.  Crumbling bridges and roads swoop through, around and over old historic neighborhoods and classical architectural icons and interject Soviet iconography into the pristine collectiva fields.  The new order of the USSR imprinted itself as dramatically on the built environment as in the daily lives of its citizens.  Huge, hulking, monumental, impenetrable, harsh, looming above everything in its path, the Soviet architecture speaks as clearly and loudly as Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev ever hoped to and for far longer.  And, it’s all still here!

While we in the US experimented with and miserably failed at modernist high rises housing and blocks in places like Cabrini Green and Pruitt Igo, the Soviets made the models work.  In many cases, our housing blocks were built as part of a mass urban renewal program in the 1950’s and 60’s to rid our city centers of degraded neighborhoods and blight.  Bulldozers were the answer then, tearing out our urban neighborhoods as the bombs had in Europe.  They were built as islands in a blown up urban core, without interconnections or social support.  The Soviets however made the model work…it still works!  Today’s Eastern European housing blocks are filled with working class and middle class folks of all economic levels, from all walks of life.  Shops and street vendors fill the ground level spaces, small shops and tables overflow with stuff everywhere.  People walk to and from the Metro or Trams and meet and greet and buy.  Kiev, a city the geographic size of Denver or Kansas City or Pittsburgh, holds over 4 million people.  It works and works well!  The entire city is a thriving conglomeration of diversity and interconnected systems.

The historic continuum of Ukrainian architectural masterpieces remains uninterrupted with ancient structures, forts, churches, monasteries, castles, Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neoclassical, Moorish, Ottoman, Neo-classical, Art Nouveau, Rococo, Art Deco masterpieces imported from foreign architects, all in original and untouched condition, unaltered by past or present reconstruction.  It’s entirely original, from the buildings to the streets, from the sidewalks and parks to the Orthodox cathedral domes.  Everything remains completely frozen in time and hence its charm and significance.

Driving through the countryside, bridge structures, bus stops, walkways, drainages, sidewalks, stairways, roads all of heavily reinforced steel concrete remains slowly rusting and melting from the saturating Ukrainian weather, half-finished by Soviet workers over 30 years ago.  Sometimes it’s not pretty and neat or all fixed up, but it is very beautiful!  Everywhere you see trees and shrubs growing out of the building cornices, window sills, pediments and rooftops.  You see occupied buildings with missing windows, doors, stucco, stone, brick, walls, floors.  You see Classical and Baroque stucco detailing and statuary falling off the walls and half eroded away, exposing the underlying skeleton and wooden lattice work backing of construction from 2 centuries ago.  Many structures and architectural masterpieces remain unoccupied with others half occupied in a minimum state of repair and use.  It is an architectural treasure of untouched masterpieces in every direction with the same urban patterning in place from 2 or 3 centuries ago.  It’s incredibly beautiful and busted up at the same time.  It’s original, untouched, broken and completely mesmerizing.

































Sustainable Living

Sustainable Living

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Let me paint a perspective for you…in the form of a little history.  I Googled that “History of the World Part I” You Tube video on the number of times boarders have changed through politics, invading armies and intervening governments.  European Conflicts for 1000 Years  Ukraine and almost all of Eastern Europe were consolidated under the one rule of those nasty Golden Horde Mongols until 1470’s when the Polish/Lithuanian Empire took over.  Yeah I know!  Poland and Lithuania!  That is until the ever expanding Russian Empire pushed them right the heck outa there.  That’s almost 2 decades before Columbus sailed the ocean blue!  After that it was Poland and Sweden of all things!  Yeah and what were they doing all the way down there!  Then Russia again this time with Peter the Great, then the Ottoman Empire (Turks) then the USSR, then the Nazis, then the USSR yet again, all banging away at Central/Eastern Europe and every single Slavic state including Ukraine, right up to living history.  The commonality through the last 400 years was Mother Russia over Ukraine in a sometimes testy alliance or outright subjugation of much of the country except for the territories around the shores of the Black Sea.  You’ll see this all in a nanosecond in the link above.

The Ukrainian/Russian War continues today in Donbass Region , in the southeastern part of the country.  Unbeknownst to us in the US, this is a full scale war ongoing today in Eastern Ukraine between Russia, Russian Separatists, Ukrainian Loyalists and a variety of political factions, at a level not seen since the Croatian-Serbian War.  The official UN death toll is over 9,000 civilians killed   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/09/ukraine-conflict-9000-dead-says-un  but the German Secret Service estimates more like 50,000, rivaling the Yugoslavian War of 20 years ago!  https://www.rt.com/news/230363-ukraine-real-losses-german-intelligence/.  I’ve covered this war in previous posts in this blog and encourage you to scroll down and learn more about this conflict.  These wars and foreign influences combine together to form a broad based foundation for today’s life style, daily life and culture in all of Eastern Europe, but Ukraine most dramatically.  With the constantly changing political and historical landscape, culture and politics combine to define architecture and city development.  One thread that runs consistently through Eastern Europe and Ukraine is Russian and the Soviet Union.  Everyone’s daily life and culture is dramatically affected, past, present and future and with fewer more limited options.

For Eastern Europe, sustainability has to do with larger more fundamental issues.  Millions of Europeans with the same heritage, religion, education and background as many Americans are worried not about recycled content or little blue bins to throw their plastic bottles into or whether a train stop is 200 yards from a Starbucks or if a building is LEED Silver or Gold or where to put the solar panels.  They are walking around considering how to live as lightly and cheaply and efficiently as possible out of necessity!  Conservation of everything is a way of life and a long standing part of the culture.  Everywhere the concerns focus on a completely different set of parameters; growing and eating healthy food, living with your extended family in which shared apartment in what Soviet (Le Corbusian) housing block, drinking accessible and clean water, having electricity and water for the entire day, being able to heat or cool your apartment affordably, building from locally available materials, respecting the existing historic city architecture, having a job that relates to your education and pays more than $200/month, getting to your job as efficiently and affordably as possible, walking around safe streets and shopping in affordable Mom & Pop shops, getting to and from schools, churches, stores, cafes, gaining access to minimal health care, having a stable and sustained political, economic and social system that can be relied on!  Sustainability is not an option, it is what you must do every single day in every single thing you do.  Sustainability is all there is here!  There are no other options.

















Sustainable living is not a point of political discourse or conversation about cost!  It’s not something that you can layer onto a project or city plan or building or institution.  It is fundamentally the most efficient, lowest cost, smallest footprint, lowest impact approach to absolutely everything everywhere!  In every category of the TB Line (oh, that again) sustainability abounds.  No matter the category: transportation, neighborhoods, urban design, eco-design, business development, locally grown food, products, investment, monetary policy, public works, buildings, heating, water, walkable streets…sustainability is the fundamental tenet on which everything is built.  It’s a completely different mindset and result.

The rest of the world can learn…we in the US should learn much about a fundamental approach to sustainability from Eastern Europe.  No worries about what to call it this year, it’s a necessity and practiced every year, all year.  The photos in here show a world apart yet a potential world of our future.  Scarcity and resourcefulness remain the mother of all invention.  We Americans stop buying huge pick-ups and SUV’s in favor of Priuses when the price of gas is $4 per gallon and just return to buying them in a feeding frenzy when the price temporarily drops to $2 per gallon. Sales of SUV’s and Trucks up 20%  Human nature and maybe modern society remains stuck in a reactive mode.  We all too often need real crises to motivate.  Minimally, designers and planners for our cities of the future must think creatively and learn from the past.  What’s happening in Denver and other boom cities across the Western US repeats the past.  Maybe the most fundamental definition of sustainability is thinking ahead to the consequences, planning and foresight and not just reacting to stuff as it happens.  Sustainability is ultimately foresight on many levels.  It’s a fundamental change in our outlook.  So “Why Eastern Europe?”  Because one of the best definitions of sustainability on the planet at the moment resides east of the Danube.




















Is Resiliency the New Sustainability?


Is Resiliency the New Sustainability?

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Whateverrrrrr do these words even mean anymore?  I can’t for the life of me remember!  Maintaining merely a local view of resiliency and sustainability might be at least itself unsustainable.  Maybe a better question is “What is unsustainable?”  For us in the US, our approaches suggests that sustainability includes things that can be maintained over time while developing the best efficiency, greatest life span and lightest footprint.  We’ve wrapped it up in a nice neat bow, and called it the Triple Bottom Line, that with the greatest economic, social and environmental good.  But that horse is really quite dead.  What new ideas and approaches are trotting along the path of the cutting edge if not the bleeding edge?  What are some new ideas?  What’s the next big idea?

Let’s boil this down a bit.  We’ve applied The Triple bottom line of P3, people, prosperity and the planet to almost everything!  How do we get the most and best out of everything, I mean everything!  It’s all fancy stuff to sell!  In some cases its marketing!  Everything from architecture to cities to power to cars, to TV’s to bathroom cleaners is sustainable or resilient!  I’ll wager that if you opened the website of every single architectural, planning, urban design and landscape firm on the web, you’d find the familiar words…green, sustainable design, LEED, Green Communities, Green Globes or Passive Haus plastered all over it.

Well, then there’s that word “green” when it comes to buildings and cleaning products and maybe eggs and milk and stuff at the grocery store.  “Green” often refers to the exorbitant cost by its detractors, but to those enlightened Kool-Aid drinkers, it conjures up all sorts of stuff with low this and long that, and reduced this and outlasts that and recycled this and recyclable that and requires little to keep it around for its long life.  This is what we have come to.  The Triple Bottom line applied to absolutely everything to make it more efficient, with a lighter footprint.  We want light footprints.  Light!  Footprints!  Even Donald Trumpers!  Don’t worry, they’re not reading this blog anyway.

Consider this.  Yeah, REM sang it, but consider the cost of your stock portfolio.  How much did it cost?  Huh?  What?  That question doesn’t compute does it?   With stocks and bonds you invest!  You focus on solid future returns on your investment.  So goes it with sustainable design!  We Americans since the last World War been slopping at the trough of prosperity and established the fiefdom of consumption such that we now know we consume the most per capita many times over worldwide.  We all know this!  Some of us are proud of that and some ashamed.  It’s even part of our current political debate!  As we’ve seen, if this is really the debate then there’s a vast “No Man’s Land” between the two sides.  The conversation has shifted from practical to political.  In short, it’s time for a change…a change of labels, of ideas, of approaches, of understanding, of talking points, technologies, discussions, polemics of hyperbole.  Ah, but what to call it now that the ol’ horse has been beaten to death?  We need, desperately need a language of inclusion not ex.  We need to change the conversation.






















Some facts.  According to www.public.wsu.edu (check out the link) we are 5% of the world’s population and consume 24% of the world’s energy.  Not new news.  And some of us believe some of us need to do something about it.  That’s our cultural bias of resiliency and sustainability.   A simple title… “Less is More!”…but I believe an architect Mr. van der Rohe came up with that title 75 years ago as a precursor for minimalist designs!   Well, never let it be said we Americans don’t emulate!   “Less is More!”…is this sustainability?  Is that resilient?  Not likely.

Sustainability is what I do, or you might say who I work for.  Sustainability employs me, it pays my salary!  I’ve watched over the last half century (now I sound like all our parents) as the conversation has shifted.  The one thing I remember clearly was an esprit de corps that is totally lacking today.  Esprit de corps vs. polemics, yep, that’s it.  There were opposite opinions and approaches but, there was a sense of “us and we” not “me and I”.  There was a “we may disagree…but” attitude missing today.  Maybe that esprit remained from winning a major war in the post-war era, maybe it was the “Brave New World”, maybe we could beat the Russians and tell ‘em to get the hell out of the Caribbean and fly of all things to the moon.  Whatever the basis, there was a cooperative nature to discussions of the day and the budding ideas of what would be eventually called sustainability.  It seemed we could solve anything!  Anything at all!

Let’s shift gears for a minute.  There is an evolution of the sustainability concept in Americana, and I hate to admit that I’ve watched it unfold.  I’m really not that old!  Long ago in the 1950’s, while still not a word, the concepts of sustainability waxed poetically vibrant.  Born out of an earlier time of less is more, it defined a way of life, the way we worked together, cooperatively.  Before there was a word, the ideas of sustainability were not connected to the meanings of today of reducing and efficiency, but to broader more “global thinking” principles of networks and social life.  The ways we shopped and related, how we discussed and worked, the ways got together and moved around, created partnerships and cooperation, all were set within the principles of resiliency and sustainability.  It was a social concept where community remained the focus.  I grew up in the suburbs in the 1950’s and 60’s as did I suspect most of you.  It was a neighborhood in every sense, we ate and played and talked together in a vibrant tight knit community.

Later on…say a quarter century ago when the word sustainability was coined, we got to define the meaning more specifically.  Now after decades of overuse, the word has become as stale as moldy bread.  Remember NPR voted it the most over used word of the year over half a decade ago!  It became so very PC and referred to everything relating to “anti-overabundance”…how’s that for a new word!  We tried to rename it “resiliency” and that too got old quick.  Just substitute the word “resilient” for “sustainable” and you’re up to date!  A kind of Word Search.

Hell, the most recent episode of Frontline on PBS www.pbs.org/frontline, (remember, check those links!) a highly enlightened news program in my opinion, discussed the merits of a “resilient federal policy” creating “resilient solutions” towards flood victims from Hurricane Sandy, through “resilient neighborhoods”!  Talk about PC speak!  By the end of the program I had lost any sense of what the hell “resiliency” actually means!  Is it just synonymous with “good stuff”?  Popularized buzz words lose all meaning after a while.  The Mad Men series, itself a pop culture phenomenon reminds us that pop culture buzz words and catch phrases wither away faster than grapes on the vine!  So let’s look at some concepts and ideas instead.

We Americans luxuriate in the options of sustainable living.  It’s our choice!  Some say yes!  Some say no way!  We get to choose what sustainable things we do.  So we can patronize, and utilize, support, include, opt, and choose this stuff.  It’s another option, something nice, something to feel good about.  On the flip side, in the “politics of polemics” that we seem locked into these days, sustainability is more of a tool for discourse, creating disagreement, a political platform and label synonymous with dirty Liberals.  On the practical side, some of us can go ahead and like green power, use low energy stuff, use recycled things and utilize solar energy.  Some can even design and build LEED buildings and walkable streets and Transit Center Shopping Districts and TOD’s.  Detractors can also choose to ridicule the solutions and widen the schism between us.   We as Americans get to choose!  No matter if it’s political, or principled or practical, sustainability is an option not a necessity.







Well what about the costs?  Those that design and build our buildings, projects, cities and places get to include sustainable and green concepts, paying for them as investments…or not.  Design concepts that focus on healthy urban lifestyles have costs.  Ultimately consumers can choose to pay a little bit more, considering it as a kind of tithe, financially supporting their prinicples.  If it’s pretty, so much the better!  If enough of us choose to buy, then there is a market for green and sustainable projects and products.  So in the world of design, maybe the architecture is cooler, the cool guy designs more high performance, the windows face a bit more south, and the streets become more walkable.  Maybe the shopping is a bit more crowded and the pedestrians a bit more diverse, maybe the trip to the airport or downtown becomes a bit easier, faster, cheaper with lower impacts.  Maybe the cars guzzle a little less gas or electricity and cause less pollution.  Maybe our chairs are filled with a bit less off-gassing stuff and of all things…some of us feel more responsible by recycling our bottles and newspapers.

It’s nice and easy and something to choose or not.  It’s something to use as a conversation piece or political sword.  It’s permeated our buildings and projects, affected our cities and neighborhoods and impacted our ideas.  Sustainability is an option, it’s become a market share, seeping into our business, social fabric, politics, technology, defining the edges of extremes for consumption, stewardship and responsibility.  It’s all very nice and fun.  We can buy it.  We can pluck it out of a catalog, or a display case.  It’s exactly like buying I Phones or HDTV’s or coffee makers.  Its imagery and marketing, it’s a commodity and a point of discussion.  It’s all very nicely pedestrian in a broad use of the term.   It’s all a uniquely…American conversation.

“Why Eastern Europe?”  Eastern Europe remains a place of necessity.  Sustainability is not a luxury, but an absolute way of life.  Right up until today, the economic, social, environmental and let me add in the political, issues remain dire.  Eastern Europe has remained the door mat for East vs. West for millennia. Their lives past, present and future may help us redefine what is sustainable into a more fundamental concept.  In Eastern Europe or more specifically the X Soviet Union, you don’t choose from a laundry list of options, your choices are far more fundamental and immediate.  This is not to suggest that the place is inferior to the American approach, it’s just different and fundamentally so!  The continuum of human history plays out into a complex fabric that must be considered in any of today’s approaches.  There’s that TB Line again…only now it’s not all gussied up and perdy. Its rough and tumble and old and a continuum of social evolution.  But it works.













What Makes for Sustainable Cities?


Welcome to my 2016 Eastern European Blog!  Why a blog?  Ah, freedom!  A powerful word and the foundation of a blog…the first person subjunctive, well partially anyway.  Free to say what needs to be said!   An opinion piece, an OpEd with words like “I and me and we and us” along with some interesting facts and observations along the way!  All flavored with some interesting pics!  A window into a world unknown to most of us.

Most Americans believe that the world should learn from us, that “We are the greatest nation on earth!”  Sound familiar?  Well consider us learning from the world, transforming our perception of the planet’s people and places from “Ain’t that quaint” to “Now that’s something you don’t see every day!” Provocative!  Imagine if you will…where we’ve come from and where we are going to.  I’m here in this blog to discuss architecture and cities of course…being an architect, what else?  Well, how about sustained and lasting city development that works, resilient urban fabric is one of the terms of the trade.  How does urban fabric, cities of all sorts relate to social structure, business, the environment on a grand scale?  Ah, that famous Triple Bottom Line again.  Talk about infamous, but consider what will be said about our cities and architecture, our society in the next millennium or two or three for that matter?  What legacies will we leave when we are as ancient as Egypt or Mesopotamia.

Of all the lasting and permanent icons of any civilization, the cities and their architecture defines a culture.  It’s what we look back on, to consider who those people were.  What made them tick?  The one lasting indelible mark of a place’s substance.  What will be said when our rocket ship of an IT age and all its trappings become dust and archaeology projects?  When our cities have risen and crumbled more times than accountable, what lessons will be learned from our busy path.  We are…so very busy!  “How are you?  I’m busy, so very busy”  “I’m too busy to read your blog!”  An actual quote!  It’s an absolutely unique time in human history on every front.  What will color the picture of who we are today, played out in tomorrow’s globalized cities.  But hey, we Americans don’t fail, we win!  Ut oh, sound familiar?  A cheap shot maybe but consider this…how in the short time of several decades did we manage to create the Rust Belt?   Yeah, that’s right, all those cities and towns slowly rusting away, turning in dust.  How did we get here?   And…”here” is where it is!

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Why Eastern Europe?  Why Ukraine?

I must get the questions “Why Eastern Europe?”  “Why Ukraine?” exactly every time I mention my travels and this blog.  On my flight here, a very nice German/American guy says to me… “Why Ukraine? Not exactly your garden spot!”  Why Ukraine?  Let me answer with a few questions of my own…”What is architecture?”  “How does history affect architecture?”  Maybe one step further, “How does culture inform architecture?”   Now add in politics, money, business!  Now a challenge…”Define sustainability and resiliency!”  Maybe none of those questions are so easy…

Here’s one view nicely packaged in a nut shell.  The Soviets and the US locked in a chilly war, both adopted a Brave New World philosophy exemplified by the modern movement in the post WWII era of nation building and rebuilding.  Driven by completely opposing political views, economies and empowered working class, each side stood completely opposite the other.  This translated into housing, infrastructure and city development defining each of our societies, our core values and our approaches.  In the Soviet Union, the workers were the political if not humanitarian focus of Stalinist USSR, building mass high rise housing apartments, broad boulevards, huge parks, massive and elaborate mass transit systems, city center shopping districts, gargantuan plazas and squares, everything out of proportion and on a massive and grand scale.  Their cities and architecture exemplified their idealism of their social system, huge, grand, forever!  The collective of the working class founded everything with a focus on the workers, the hammer and sickle.  The collective approach.  The USSR built their Brave New World, the new paradigm based on their specific political philosophy, egalitarian worker’s revolution.  If it was hijacked by Stalin and the other recent Soviet dictators, it was still a philosophical principal imprinted over the existing historic city structure, directly over the ancient architecture and streets or in many cases the rubble created by Hitler’s troops.

In the US, with the boom of the post WWII era, the workers had jobs, bought cars and houses and campers and TV’s and moved to the suburbs, with all that suggests.  The American Dream was based in mobility, open space and freedom.  A house, a garage, 2 cars, 2 kids and a lawnmower.  Two opposite models of socio-political philosophy and city development based on similar goals, enhancing the life styles of the working class.  Anyone familiar with architectural history and city planning will tell you that it could be boiled down to Le Corbusier vs. FL Wright, Radiant City  high rises vs. Wright’s Broadacre  suburbs.  Check out those links!  Opposing models creating either dense, consolidated cities or sprawling suburbs.  Overly simplified, maybe but here’s that nutshell…the Soviets invested in the city center and the Americans in the suburbs.  What in each of these city models has been sustained over time? Another way of asking the question…”What creates sustainable cities?” How’s that for a bit of hyperbole?


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Dacha, Life in the Country

The Bus Ride from Kiev


The open air bus station abuzz with activity, swelters in the low, hot late afternoon summer sun.  The very young and very old mull about, clamoring for a seat on the sparse benches.  Here the elderly move right along with everyone else, plugged into the same life style and challenges.   Grandmas and Grandpas who in the US are enjoying care from their extended families or in assisted living, having meals presented to them at nicely set tables, going to exercise classes and church on Sundays; these same elders in the Ukraine are slowly ambling up bus stairs burdened with bags, bouncing into their seats, moving forward in the bus aisles as empty seats become available, slipping up to the door to exit in a timely fashion.  They know that if they arrive at the station late they get to stand in the aisle for the 3 hour ride to their village.

















You must get to the bus station hours early to get one of the limited seats.  As the bus arrives, a crowd presses against the door as those royal few with ticketed seats move to the front as the crowd parts as if for rock stars. Then a pause at the bus door till the royal few are seated then the crowd presses into the aisles, “like sardines” I mused to my hosts.  It…is…HOT!

This bus is only for the villages, it goes nowhere else.  At the end of the line the route just kind of dies away, then the bus turns around to start the circle again. The numbers of people on the bus dwindle as does civilization the further into the night our bus lumbers, into the lightless villages and homes, the only illumination from the bus headlights or few cars slowly maneuvering the rutted roads.  In 3 hours the bus covered no more than 80 miles.  To describe the roads as rutted patches on patches wouldn’t cover it.   It’s more like giants had drizzled massive globs of wax along a ribbon of a toy road for their amusement.  Floes of tar and mud, thick asphalt and stones, rubble and ruts that would break any car’s axle make the going more like an amusement park ride than a conveyance.



This is the village road and a slice of their way of life.  Anyone that’s ridden these kind of busses world-wide knows that for some crazy reason the locals hate fresh air so the windows get closed as soon as the bus moves, making our rolling tin can, a furnace!  It…is…HOT!  It’s a trip back into history, lumbering down the road through time and space.  Oh, did I mention the fare from Kiev to our village?  $2.90!  A cheap amusement park ride really by any measure!

Our village, Zghurivka, an unpronounceable jumble of consonants where every letter IS pronounced, lies to the east of Kiev in the flat farm country of central Ukraine.  Much like western Ohio or Indiana, the farms show the vestiges of Stalin’s Farm Collectivization.  Fields sans any buildings of any sort stretch to the horizon as far as you can see, broken only by tufts of trees floating in the middle of the sea of corn or wheat or sunflowers.



The farmers live in the sparse villages in the distance, using huge lumbering farm machinery some of it from the 1960’s.  All this the result of Stalin’s push to form collectives out of surf held mini-farms in the late 1930’s.  In the months leading up to WWII the Peasant’s Revolt against Collectivization inspired Stalin to double down and cut all food to the eastern region of Ukraine causing millions to starve in the streets in such cities as Kharkov and Donetsk, a city made famous today for yet other atrocities.


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In the middle of these seas of grain and stalks, in the thick darkness, suddenly looms a series of 6 and 8 story Corbusian Soviet housing blocks, maybe 4, then 6, no…8 of them, rising out of the seas of grain like rock cliffs, surrounded only by some small mobile home type shops dragged there from some factory in the city and plopped down to serve the stacks of apartments.  These are the farm workers, representing vestiges of the Soviet economy still in place.  The dark streets are full of locals strolling in the night with kids playing and riding bikes in the complete darkness, the shops the only source of light in the entire place.

Our bus, the only vehicle on the road, belches blue acrid smoke, loudly breaking the silence dropping its cargo.  A tiny girl held by her brother and sister one on each hand, stands expectantly on the road’s edge across the street, bouncing on her toes, dancing as the bus rolls up in a blue cloud of smoke.  She runs to the far side of the bus as her mom slips out the door and greeted to huge screams of joy!  I can see the little girl her through the grimy window, wildly clinging to mom’s neck and showering her with kisses.

The bus pitches and yaws its way back out onto the main road and into the dark night.  After another hour in the darkness, we pass a half a dozen public buildings of a small farming village, lurching and pitching along at maybe 20 mph.  Then our stop.  As the bus door creaks open, we’re dumped in the silent darkness in middle of nowhere on a pitch black dirt lane capped by an iridescent star filled sky.  The Milky Way seemingly glows through the slit of the sky framed by the lane’s overhanging trees.


My hosts jokingly exclaim, welcome to Jurie Gragarian Lane, yep the famous cosmonaut from the late 1950’s in competition with Alan Shepherd and John Glen for the most daring trip into outer space.  At the height of the Soviet rebuilding and in the middle of our post WWII Cold War, our two worlds diverged on two disparate paths.  We Americans were building suburban tracts and highways from sea to shining sea while the Soviets, built Corbusian high rise apartments and elaborate Metros in the cities and these farming villages with brick huts on the edges of the huge collective fields to feed them.



These are dachas for some, vacation huts, a get away from the hot city, a respite from the usual, a form of camping.  They are also full time homes to 40% of the country’s population, the rural poor of Ukraine, most living on dollars per day.  Living a life that existed in the US before the Civil War or in maybe some Eco-tourism communes in places like California or Montana today!  Lined up on Jurie Gragarian Lane, are 600 sq. ft. white plastered shoebox houses with concrete tile roofs, rickety wooden framed windows, wooden plank floors and plaster over mud brick inside and out.  The kitchens improvised to spill outside in the summers, morphs into tight quarters around the huge brick oven in the winter.  Cold storage in pantries and in ground vaults serves to preserve the food grown all summer long.  A central oven heats in the winter and bakes year round, the bathroom an outhouse with a wooden plank seat and door, the running water a pump in the back yard and the shower a bucket on the roof of a wooden shack.  You yank the chord and out comes whatever slightly luke-warm water was left over from yesterday’s solar gain. It inspires what we call Navy showers…spontaneously!  Yeah, refreshing!







With the house comes maybe an acre or two that extends out into the collective fields for homestead farming.  Fruit and nut trees provide most of the shade around the village homes, forming shaded edges to the wide expanses of the collective fields, with mom and the kid’s subsistence farming those modest tracts of land behind the shaded backyards.

Prepping, canning, drying, preserving, and selling the surplus displayed on upright crates along the mostly empty country roads become the daily activities with endless work from sun up to sun down.  Maybe 4, 5 or 6 people live in these one bedroom houses with many of these “dachas” occupied by full time residents, families eking out a living on the land by subsistence farming in local villages across the country.  An Eco-tourism bonanza, a trip back in time, or a way of life for millions in the X Soviet Union, you choose the label.













Huge unbroken fields surround the village in all directions with monoculture corps much like in the US except sans any farm houses, barns or structures of any kind.  Large agribusinesses cultivate the fields with massive machinery slowly sailing past the village workers in their small homestead plots.  Some of these villagers are the workers of the massive farming operations, but these mega-farms remain highly mechanized and so light on the use of unskilled labor.

People ask me why I am so interested in Ukraine.  These scenes are the reason.  Russia post Perestroika has rebuilt, spent their oil and gas money modernizing much of their world.  Many of their famously beautiful cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow are wonderfully modernized and restored, even as much of rural Russia still exists in the hunter/gather tradition.  But it’s Ukraine that marks time in history, spending very little on anything since the days of Khrushchev.  The cities are beautiful, and old, and run down, and original, and traditional, and untouched, and historical, and friendly, and sustainable.



















Yes, sustainability means many things to different people.   I define sustainability as a principle, a concept which directs us, all of us, individually and collectively to consider more than ourselves and the present.   It’s a principle defined and developed by our past experiences and decisions.

As architects, planners, urban designers, the more we consider the effects of today’s work on the future, the greater its sustainable potential.  Today’s work, based on sustainable principles and experience will define the future resiliency of any project developed today.   Clearly stated, sustainable principles define a city’s future resiliency.

These self-sufficient places, harkening back to the days of living light on the planet, where everything is connected.  The average US citizen lives a life that if everyone lived would consume the resources of somewhere between 5 – 7 planets.  Check out this test, and see how many worlds your life style requires.  Here’s a fun interactive one: http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/  or for the more serious: http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/

In the US, we architects and designers have attempted to close the barn door after the horse  got out using LEED and other metric based strategies to prevent us Americans that occupy 5 % of the world’s population from consuming any more than the quarter of all resources we already do.  Truly a pitiful solution, such a very thin strategy.  The point is not to live like some of those Eco-tourist communes of California or Montana or West by God Virginia with Mother Earth News style collectives doing organic farming.  Nope been there, done that in the 1960’s! We must open our perceptions to a broader understanding and expression of what resiliency is created by designing sustainable projects and cities today.  We must move far beyond building LEED buildings and calling it good enough.  It becomes not a matter of opinion or I believe or I don’t, it becomes a social and moral imperative where we simply cannot continue to design our cities, highways, suburbs, shopping districts, schools or even parking, walkways, plazas and parks the way we have, either horizontally or vertically.

If architects, planners, urban designers are the ones that help define the future of regions, cultures, cities and societies through their projects, then we certainly must reconsider our definitions of successful projects based on sustainable principles, creating resilient futures.   We will not be returning to a life of a century or two ago any time soon.  That’s absurd.  But what can we learn from the vast number on our planet that live a truly sustainable life, causing us all to stop and wonder where our priorities lie.










Showing What Needs to be Seen…


NOTE: I’ve promised all my friends and relatives that I will not go into harm’s way.  This is an active and hot conflict, an all out war raging in Southeastern Ukraine between Russian forces, Separatists and Ukrainian National Army troops. As you’ll see, it includes jets, tanks, artillery and heavy weapons.  All the following photos are by  brave Press Photographers, some of whom have lost their lives, one of whom is pictured below.  These photos range from February 2014 to July 2015, as in today!  I honor those that have taken these photos and made them available to the public on Maidan Square and at the National War Memorial Museum in Kiev.  I’m leaving today for Kharkov on the Russian boarder and just above the conflict to find out more.  Please “Share” this in Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, I hope for a wide and diverse audience. 

I need to pick up where I left off last summer.  I’ve now been in Kiev for a week, talking, visiting, discussing, gathering and I’m ready to tell you what I know.  The War is on in a big way, the future is uncertain in every way and the direction forward is unclear.  Maybe the reason for blogs such as this one becoming increasingly popular is that the news in the US does not cover much other than what’s immediately important.  The coverage of the Ukraine and the crisis here remains paltry at best and absent at the worst.  The War is on.  There is a crisis here in Eastern Europe of a level seldom seen since Bosnia.  The images in this entry are current, as recent as within the last several months, and dire.  It is a War carried out within and between the civilian population who cannot escape and have little except family to stay for.  I need to include this in my blog as a backdrop for all else I’ll cover this year.  It’s worth putting discussions of sustainable architecture and urban planning aside for a moment.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  It’s very complicated.  Very.  The rifts are very old and very deep.  The divisions are rooted in the fact that Ukraine has been part of Russia since the time of Peter the Great in the late 17th Century, and consolidated by his daughter Catherine the Great in the early 18th Century, around 100 years before our American Revolution!  http://www.biography.com/people/peter-the-great-9542228   Yeah!  Get it?  That’s how deep this goes.

Ukraine got sick to death (literally) of the great Polish Empire running all over them for access to the Black Sea and their fertile lands.  They allied with Russia and besides a brief stint of independence just before the Bolshevik Revolution, have been either directly allied or controlled by the Empire ever since the late 1600’s.  Add to that, the living memories of millions of X Soviet citizens now in their twilight years, that remember Mother Russia and stewardship, and care, and support, through free education, guaranteed housing, food, cars in some cases, most of the basics, no matter how basic.  All you had to do was work, work when you were sick, or tired, work 12 hour days, work a 6 or sometimes 7 day week, work if your kids were sick or if someone died, you worked.  It was easy and guaranteed…   Easy in a sense that is.  The older generation remembers this, through all the conflagrations of the last 22 years of Ukrainian independence.  Returning to Russia remains the only hope of solving this experimental Ukrainian puzzle.


I just toured the famous Kiev WWII War Memorial Museum.  Amazing!  Several facts are germane to defining this split between those that want Russia and those that want the EU.  First the fight for Russia was mostly over by the time the allies got to Normandy and D Day.  By then the Russians had been locked in an almost limitless 4 year battle for their lives.  Stalingrad, Kiev, Kharkov, Leningrad and even Moscow were under constant siege and destruction.  By the time D Day happened, the fight remained largely in the west of Russia, i.e. Ukraine and surrounding areas.  Russia’s Red Army spent millions of lives defending Ukraine and western Russia from the Nazis and Germany.  By D Day, over half the Russian Red Army was fighting in Ukraine and over 60% of that Army were Ukrainians.  The history runs very very deep.

On the other side, and I mean the other side…are those that want the EU.  There is no in between, no middle ground.  I’ve watched fist fights and rumbles break out over shouting matches on the subject. Everyone here as in the US has some sort of access to the internet on laptops, computers, smart phones, they see the images of life in Western Europe and the US.  It’s the Millennials, the Gen X’ers, the young people, those are the ones that want to be part of the EU!  Everyone now make less than $300/month, with the 3 1/2 fold increase in the value of the dollar and the Euro and resultant skyrocketing cost of living and sees that every day on the internet.  Those that believe in Ukrainian sovereignty and nationality remain currently in power.  The cry, “Slava Ykraine” or “Honor to Ukraine” resounds around the large gatherings on Maidan Square, the chants spontaneously rising above the music played by street performers.

My friends that I’ve known for half a decade here in Kiev, long before the Revolution, all say, the current government is pissing off Russia and Russia is responding.  The elections will not happen until the end of the decade, in 2019.  This might be a long battle.  The German Intelligence Agency estimates over 50,000 killed in this nasty little war, one we know almost nothing about.  That number is slightly more than half the total casualties in the entire Bosnian/Croatian War and it’s still raging in the East.  The Russian supporters say there are no people dying in Crimea, taken over a year ago; that people are dying only in the East, where Russia and the West are colliding.  The EU supporters say it’s a question of National sovereignty, honor, pride and their very survival.



The Revolution on Kiev’s Maidan Square of a year and a half ago subsided last summer.   President Viktor Yanukovych reputed in Putin’s hip pocket was the catalyst of it all.  He ordered the massacre of the EU supporter civilians in the photos of this blog and on our news.  He nixed an agreement for economic cooperation and opening with the West just days before the Revolution exploded.  His overthrow and the rapid election of the EU and US backed Petro Poroshenko was a victory for moving towards the West, with dire life changing consequences.  I encourage you to read at least the entry below from my last year’s visit, when the center of Kiev, Maidan Square was a military camp and I experienced a gun battle right outside my hotel where 4 soldiers were killed.  

It’s complicated.

Why does any of this matter?  Where to begin.  Here’s a place, read this…

The US vs Russia in Ukraine

The claims are that there are strategic interests relating to the old Cold War and the sagging relationship between the US and Russia that are behind all this.  Some of my friends say…”who cares”.  It’s a chess game.  Why care?  Well, how about that it’s possible that the US is stirring the pot for greater political gain and 50,000 people have died.  That sounds like something that Americans do care about!


Finally, this is a blog about “Sustainability and Resiliency” capitalized and in quotes as they now have become titles of many things.  I’ve defined sustainability as the principles that drive stewardship in human development and resiliency as the result of those moves.  The past and the future, the principles we’ve learned in the past to create resilient societies for the future.  Simple, yet complex.  Ukraine is an enigma in today’s world.  Stuck between the past and the future, it becomes a living example of the schism between the two.  Sustainability is not defined by our terms in the US here in Ukraine or much of the rest of the world for that matter.  Our definition remains very narrow like a thin line to the future.  Ukraine’s sustainability looks more like a patch-work-quilt to a questionable future.  The real question here is, what can we learn from just such a past and how will it affect our own future?

All the following photos were taken by Ukrainian War Correspondents and are on display in the War Memorial Museum and Maidan Square in Kiev.   This remains a real and very dangerous war, despite life as normal in Kiev.   


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Ukraine! Saying What Needs to be Said!


Ukraine!  Its time…time to say what needs to be said.  Time to tell it like it is.  I’m not sure you all know exactly what’s going on here.  Yes we get the varnished version from CNBC and CBS and CNN, but we just don’t get it.  It gets pushed off the front pages unless people are dying en masse or there’s a real live battle.  Yes, Putin is Hitler, the Russians are terrorists, the EU, NATO and the US are ineffective, it’s a lost cause, Yanukovych is Putin’s dog, it’s a civil war…we’ve heard plenty, but not much of it either tells the story or what’s really happening.  Let me spend a few entries ‘splainin’ what I see going on around here.  It ain’t pretty. Not at all.  As a matter of fact those that want to avert their eyes from the photos and videos I’m posting, go right ahead.  But please at least, read on.

Black Thursday, February 20th

You know the short story, over 100 killed on Black Thrusday, massive riots in Kiev’s Maidan Square with grandmas, grandpas, kids, lawyers, doctors, carpenters, laborers, students, all only 4 short months ago.  So here’s the last decade’s worth of “how did we get here” in 3 paragraphs or less.  Viktor Yanukovych, the fourth President of Ukraine from 2010 supposedly until 2015, famously left office the day after Black Thursday, escaping by the skin of his teeth!  His blusterous attack on Maidan on February 20th ended his Presidency, as he secretly found safety in the bosom of Mother Russia.  He remains a fugitive there today, less relevant with the new elections in May.  The War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague will have something special for him in the future I’m sure.  More on Yanukovych below, including photos of his multi, multi-million dollar estate in “What you Need to Know about Ukraine”.  So many cartoons around Maidan of Viktor and Putin doing all sorts of crazy things.  Here are some of the more sanitized versions depicting of course in an allegorical fashion, “they were in bed together”.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh such good stuff!

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Yulia Tymoshenko the “Gas Princess” lost the election in 2010 by only a few percentage points to Viktor.  She was the first woman Prime Minister from 2005 – 2010 and co-led the Orange Revolution in 2004.  She was listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the top 3 most powerful and richest women in the world in 2005.  Gas!  She favors membership in the EU, free market, and reduction of ties to Russia.  Ah the rub!  Frankly no one in Ukrainian politics has staying power without being in bed with Russia.  Yulia was thrown in prison on my first visit in 2011 and was suddenly declared innocent by the Supreme Court the day after ol’ Viktor fled to Russia.  What a coincidence!  Stunning!  Amazing!

Petro Poroshenko the chocolate king was elected this past May as the fifth President of Ukraine.  He also served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2010 and as the Minister of Trade and Economic Development in 2012. From 2007 until 2012, he headed the Council of Ukraine’s National Bank.  Yep so part of the original Yanukovych government.  In the last two week, he signed the contested agreement for greater cooperation with the EU.  He also has many factories churning out chocolate in Russia, employing many Russians and paying Russian taxes.  He’s a pragmatist, but as is with them all, also an “oligarch”.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  While we in the US accept that it takes lots of money to get elected to office, in Ukraine you must be part of the established State, which has been tied directly to Mother Russia since the time of Peter the Great’s in the early 18th Century, almost a century before our own Independence.   Yeah, it’s a Russian novel!

These photos are by others, posted on kiosks in Maidan Square to commemorate Black Thursday











So goes the elections, so goes the politics.  Read below in the “What you Need to Know” entry about the plight of the Ukrainian people.  The Cliff Notes are, they usually make around $300/month, no one normal can afford a car, everyone lives in flats with their entire extended family, the streets, metro and infrastructure are pre WWII with little money spent on any of it since Khrushchev’s time.  That coupled with an open internet and one of the highest college educated rates in all of Europe, trouble has been brewing for some time.

These are regular people in the streets, swinging pipes, shooting ancient rifles, wearing construction hard hats, walking around in fatigues, living on Maidan Square for the last ¾ of a year.  Regular people.  Unemployment has soared, poverty exploding, homelessness rampant, business failures common, boarded up stores everywhere.  I’ve met engineers and scientists and college professors that are living in those tents on Maidan all winter long, were part of the fight for their freedom.  I’ve seen children playing violin on the streets for money.  I’ve seen old men playing the balalaika for money and regular people begging in the streets.  The news media plays up the Russian speaking population as the catalyst, not true, everyone I mean everyone speaks Russian.

They want to be free, self determined, to enjoy the lives of the rest of the educated world.  Two sides.  The Ukrainian Nationalists don’t want to be a door mat for Russia any longer. They don’t want the oppression of economic and political freedoms that comes with the long repressive Russian government.  The Separatists that support becoming part of Russia don’t want to worry about money, unemployment, poverty or homelessness.  They want that huge iron clad safety net deployed as a foundation to their society.  It often relates to age, the ol’ Soviets want Russia and modern intelligencia on iPhones and the internet want the EU.  But it’s now life or death for them.  It’s complicated and convoluted, it’s volatile and dangerous.  When you’ve got nothing to loose, there’s nothing to loose!  It could blow any time dragging the EU, the US and most of the West into an anachronistic war.  Or it could just blow over.

Here are some links
RIGHT click on the link or you’ll loose your place:

Maidan in Photos

Eastern Ukraine last month


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The view from Kiev remains extreme…that the Russians have stolen Crimea, the crown jewel…that Russian military intelligence terrorists masquerading as Separatists operate throughout Eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk, Sloveansk and now Lugansk and Maripol.  In any case, the facts are that Russian military personnel, hardware and technology have openly supported or instigated the “Separatists”, terrorizing the countryside and blowing Ukrainian military planes and helicopters out of the sky with pin point accuracy.

The open boarders remain a sieve, with an open doorway for an unending supply of more Russian military terrorists flooding into Ukraine.  The US and the EU both know through intelligence that Russia is openly supporting and instigating such terrorism, creating a fake uprising.  Its the exact same tactic used to take Crimea.  The news media here suggests Russia is acting out of fear and not aggression or an anachronistic (seems to be the word of the day) view of Cold War politics.  Putin fears loosing the 1970’s style sphere of influence his much worshiped Soviet Union enjoyed, with the EU and NATO closing in on their boarders economically and politically if not physically.  That plus the conveniently ignored 1994 Nonproliferation Treaty based on the 1993 Massandra Summit between Ukrainian, US and Russia where the Ukraine received complete security assurances from the United States, Russia and Britain.  So much for our honoring our treaties.  http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/05/trilateral-process-pifer

Remember these are regular people, with regular lives and educations.  They are families with careers inspired to stand up and put everything on the line.  I’m here to relate to you what’s been happening and to report the “rest of the story”.  You decide how to affect change; now you’ll know more and understand more and consider better options.  The status quo will not work here.  Continuing to do nothing is a non-starter.  “It’s not going away.”

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The conflict continues with the same fervor from Black Thursday through to today.  Their goal, fighting Russian terrorism and aggression.  Why should we in the US and the EU care?  Simple, this could spill over into a wider regional conflict that would affect all of Europe, parts of the Middle East and drag the US into a larger war.  When I say this to my friends in the US, I almost always get one of two reactions: 1. Boots on the ground 2. Do nothing.  Period.  I suggest neither is correct.  American leadership is historically and currently crucial for any such endeavor and the US sometimes honors its treaties.  Sometimes.  There are many options other than the status quo to affect what’s happening here.  People are dying and the powder keg cache rapidly growing.  “It’s not going away” quite the opposite.  What are the solutions?  I leave it to you!  What are the solutions!

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Today’s news from the Front in Ukraine:

Railroad bridge blown, severing freight and passenger train travel to Southeastern Ukraine, 2 killed.
Passenger bus attacked passengers kidnapped and 3 killed near Donetsk.
Slavyansk liberated from Russian terrorists, the city lays in ruins
Lugansk a city of 1 million people under siege.
4 casualties on Maidan Square in central Kiev, skirmish with over 100 militia

I’ll bet you’ve not heard any of this from our news media.

Here are some links:

The latest news from the front Slavyansk

Donetsk, at the front

DO NOT watch this clip unless you really want to. It’s very disturbing, it’s Black Thursday.
Feb 20th, Black Thursday, CAUTION