Conference in Novovolynsk

A few days ago I returned from a conference in Novovolynsk about local municipalities branding themselves to better attract entrepreneurs and tourists run by the Institute for Society Transformation.

Before the conference, we visited two monasteries. First the Zymnyi (Winter ?) Women’s Monastery. More info here, here and here.

Then the Nuzkynychi (Lower ??? or maybe Unfinished ???) Monastery. More info here or here.

In both places I had the feeling that I could spend months there without running out of things to say. Both places claimed miracles. Both were filled with stories of Soviet oppression, and passive resistance — statues glued together went with stories of government led vandalism, stories of scattered bones from the catacombs, of church services interrupted by hails of stones, of planting trees in place of crosses because the latter were frowned upon, of collecting embroideries which had also been frowned upon as a distinctly Ukrainian custom.

The country side was beautiful with gentle hills just tall enough to offer great views.

We stayed in one of Novovolynsks’s two hotel. I was interested to hear that most of their business comes from the small basement bar and its four billiards tables. Three of them were Russian Billiards tables — I found the pockets impossibly small.

There were attendees from Lutsk, Ternopil, Poland, L’viv and many of the smaller towns surrounding Novovolynsk.

I spoke about websites from my experience as a web developer, then briefly about the distinction between public and private money, citing Mises’ Bureaucracy. Here’s my powerpoint presentation: TownBranding_Skaskiw.ppt.

This was my second time giving it, and my second ever bit of public speaking in Ukrainian. It went much more smoothly this time.

The people from the Institute and I took the bus back to L’viv, along with a pair of sociologists who attended the conference. They had a few hours before their evening train back to Kyiv, so I invited everyone over to my place.

Amazingly, I had just the right amounts of food — cookies, a large quantities of pistachios. Ihor from the institute brought out Salo and bread. They suggested one of the sociologists go out for a bottle of vodka, but before he put his second arm into his jacket I found the big bottle of Jack Daniels I had brought from the U.S. Very appropriate, I thought, for an American host.

Then coffee and tea. A good time, it seemed, was had by all. I felt happy to have shared my home and food and all the laughs. I made a secret recording of our festivities, available here.

Also, the sociologists say they will help me with my *top secret* archival research project which one or two of you may be privy too. On’tday elltay anybodyway!