Global Maidan: A Gathering in NYC for Civic Activists

As Ukrainians face another long winter, with fighting continuing in the east, and Putin as bombastic and determined as ever, a network of activists around the world have organized an event to inspire new ideas for the years ahead.
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On Sunday, Ukrainian voters took to the polls and overwhelmingly elected a parliament that's pro-Europe and full of anti-corruption watchdogs. Investigative journalists, some of the country's leading technologists, and revolutionary protesters-turned-war heroes are now members of parliament. For the first time in nearly a century, Ukraine's government will not include the communist party -- a tool of the Kremlin. The parliamentary election was one of the most important moments in the country's history since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It flushed out the vast majority of the old guard that had been blocking much-needed reforms and gave President Poroshenko the mandate to defeat Russia in the east and integrate his country with the West. The people have spoken, just as they did in the popular uprising that toppled their last president, known as EuroMaidan.

This November marks the one year anniversary of EuroMaidan, and there's no greater sign of progress than what happened on Sunday. It bodes well for the country's Western dreams. Conspiracy theorists like to say that Ukraine's revolution was orchestrated by the West. In actuality, Ukraine refused to accept a Western brokered peace deal with its previous and insanely corrupt president Victor Yanukovych. Last February, when such a deal was offered, a young revolutionary got up on stage in Kyiv, stole the mic, and announced to EU leaders and a sea of protesters that the president had until the morning to step down or else. Hours later, Yanukovych fled to Russia with Putin's help. On Sunday, voters made this young man a member of parliament. His name is Volodymyr Parasiuk, and he was nearly killed fighting in the east; in August, in a town called Ilovaisk, Russian mercenaries had promised safe passage for Ukraine's injured soldiers and instead ambushed them, killing many. Volodymyr miraculously survived and now he's going to help lead his country toward Putin's worst nightmare: a free and prosperous Ukraine.

But there's much work to be done. The biggest mistake Ukrainians can make now is repeat the errors of the Orange Revolution of 2004. Ten years ago, after a popular and peaceful uprising overturned a corrupt presidential election when the Kremlin first tried to shove Yanukovych into power, the people considered the revolution fought and won, and went back to business as usual. In short, they stopped paying attention, and the Orange Revolution heroes they elected got mired in a deeply corrupt system and infighting which allowed Yanukovych to rise to power again. Now is not the time to stop paying attention. Now is when the real work begins. If Ukraine wants to become the next Poland -- a post-Soviet, Western integration success story -- then Ukrainians need to work harder than ever to push through reforms and secure the support they need from the West.

As Ukrainians face another long winter, with fighting continuing in the east, and Putin as bombastic and determined as ever, a network of activists around the world have organized an event to inspire new ideas for the years ahead. It's called Global Maidan and all civic activists -- those working for a better future for Syria, for Iran, for Venezuela, for the US, for social justice everywhere -- are invited.

Global Maidan features experts in journalism, filmmaking, comedy writing, and social media advising civic activists on how to broaden their reach and appeal to an easily war-fatigued West. "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show" continue to be some of the most popular sources of news; Global Maidan will include speaker Meredith Scardino, who won an Emmy writing for "The Colbert Report," and Sara Taksler, a segment producer for "The Daily Show," as well as John Harris, a writer for "Funny or Die News" and formerly a writer for The Onion. Filmmaker Jenny Halper, whose credits include Kristen Wiig's Girl Most Likely and The Kids Are All Right, will join "60 Minutes" associate producer Jonathan Schienberg, and a host of other filmmakers, to advise activists on how to tell powerful stories. No other group has crowdfunded more this past year than Ukrainians who tirelessly raised money for medical supplies and bullet-proof vests and boots for their soldiers; to help them go mainstream, leading crowdfunding expert Vann Alexandra Daly, who has raised millions over Kickstarter for her change-maker clients like musician Neil Young and investigative blogger Brown Moses, will explain the secrets to her 100 percent success rate.

If you're a civic activist looking for inspiration and a fun event to meet like-minded people, join us at Global Maidan. The gathering will take place from noon to 5pm on Saturday November 15th at the Ukrainian Museum in the East Village. To catch the livestream, follow Global Maidan. To join us, register here.

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