In today’s edition: another winter fire, inspiring stories from the front, and some stirring shouts of shum.
This week I have been utterly awestruck by the indomitable spirit of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are fighting with all their might to maintain their freedom and human dignity. However, it was deeply heartbreaking for me to learn that these brave souls had already endured an epic, soul-grinding four-month battle against Russian-backed tyranny just eight years ago.
In order to understand more of the backstory of the situation unfolding this week with Putin’s invasion, Ashlinn and I watched the 2015 Oscar-nominated documentary, “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.” It offers an incredibly powerful testament to both the brutality of totalitarianism and to the profound power of a people united for good.
Far more emotional than informational, watching this film is a deeply visceral experience. The filmmakers were embedded on the frontlines of this struggle, day after grueling day, and as a viewer you can’t help but be drawn into the experience. You feel right along with these people as gains in the fight are eked out, tragically lost, and then barely wrangled back with bloody effort.
As I said, it is heart-rending to realize that these brave souls who have already done so much to declare and defend their freedom are being forced to do it all over again right now but I think it’s very important that we all see and feel in our guts the full story of what maintaining our liberty and democracy is worth.
One of Ashlinn’s and my dearest friends here in Turin is renowned author, blogger, and writing coach, Ekaterina Hoaru. As a Belorussian citizen with both Russian and Ukrainian heritage, “Katia” is deeply invested in the events unfolding in Kyiv and the rest of the country this week. I’m deeply grateful for her insights into this situation.
She has been sharing stories with us of the friends of hers who are navigating bombed out roads to escape into Austria (picking up women and children along the way), stoically staying-put to continue offering much-needed psychotherapy services to clients in the capital city, or bravely joining in the resistance fight. Katia has been using her voice on social media and Telegram to amplify these stories to her Russian-speaking audience. Using Google Translate, you can read some of those stories here.
And lastly, something that is still fully on-theme yet very fun and celebratory. One of my very favorite contenders for last year’s Eurovision crown was Ukrainian power-pop badasses, Go_A, with their scintillating song, “SHUM.” It’s a really banging little track with trill traditional folk-style vocals that will send chills down your spine.
Cool Eurovision side note: thanks to Måneskin’s win for Italy in the song competition last year, our very own Torino will be hosting the event this year. We are so stoked to be able to be here for all the excitement. Bring it on, Volcano Man!!!