Making Kyiv Clean Again: activists cleanse capital of its perennial dirt

Snapshot from the video of Kyive, Miy 

Ukraine

The Ukrainian capital is many things: a great city with a long history, political center, cultural hub, the city of revolutions, the city of opportunities, the city of flowers, and chestnuts. However, Kyiv is also a city of dirty streets and crosswalks. For many years this was taken as given, until recently a very small group of activists decided to take at least some minor steps to improve the situation. They called themselves Kyive, Myi which is a wordplay directly translated as “Kyiv, Wash” and went to wash their first location in the city center.

“My main idea is that home does not end at the doors of your house. The city is also your house,” says Vit Onoprienko, the founder of the Kyive, Myi movement. 

In an interview with Holos Kyiva, the activist describes Kyiv as a very dirty city with various kinds of contaminations, including air pollution from motorized transportation, power stations, unsorted waste, and dirt-encrusted surfaces. 

The activists started liberating their city from dirt, and for this purpose bought a special high-pressure washer. Onoprienko says they don’t use detergents, just water.

The activists’ first chosen location was the crosswalk near the Lva Tolstogo metro station in the city center. It turned into an adventure as a municipal worker who did not get what they were doing called the police. However, as the police did not see any violation, they went away.

This first initiative attracted some attention to the initiative and allowed the activists to continue their mission of making Kyiv cleaner.

“We do it with our own money. And the positive feedback from Kyiv citizens is the only profit we can earn from it. It is the only thing that allows us to move forward.”  

Afterward, the volunteers managed to clean the space of the historical arсh on a street not far from Khreshchatyk. As a result of poor lighting, the area has become something of a public toilet with a corresponding smell. The activists washed the area clean of its unpleasant odors.

The Kyeve, Miy initiative in the ark was continued by The GAME.ua. This organization, which holds intellectual competitions, provided lighting for the arch. 

The next challenge for Kyive, Miy was the crosswalk near Maidan Nezalezhnosti metro station, under Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square, the very heart of Kyiv. Onoprienko describes the place as a disaster and says that they were not ready for such a large amount of dirt.  They started with the floor mats at the entrance to the shopping center. The mats, which collect dust from the footwear of passers-by, had not been cleaned for many years. Onoprienko says that to make it perfectly clean more time is needed. 

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Also, the activists started to clean the granite walls and floor from a mold that had built up due to atmospheric conditions. However, as the water was not fully able to clean it, the volunteers are looking for other tools. They are doing research themselves and consulting specialists with similar experiences. 

Onoprienko summarizes that during seven hours of work in the crosswalk under Maidan Nezalezhhnosti Square, they managed to do about 10% of the work needed. 

Afterwards, the activists switched to a smaller location which is easier to handle. 

“There is too much work at Maidan. Now, to maintain morale in the team we need a victory.”

The core of the team consists of three people, including Onoprienko. About ten join from time to time. 

Now the activists inform the local government and police on their steps but do not wait for special permission. As mentioned by Onoprienko, since the first incident they have not faced any resistance. Even more, sometimes the police provide them with help. 

In one of their Facebook posts, the activists say that often they receive messages which say that they are doing unnecessary work and that the money for it should be paid from the local budget, or that it is relevant businesses that should be dealing with public spaces. 

“It has already happened that we can draw attention to the problem by our own example. We are being watched by both public utility services and business, and we hope that the authorities will soon pay attention too.”

The activists plan that after some bigger community is built around their initiative they will be able to ask Kyiv citizens about what place should be cleaned next. 

Edited by: Michael Garrood

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