Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Blue-and-Yellow Challenge (for Ukraine)


Almost immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our neighborhood turned blue and yellow. There were Ukraine flags on the houses, Ukraine bumper stickers on the cars, yellow sunflowers in blue flowerpots on porches. My Facebook page was filled with images "in support of Ukraine." And I was thinking, yeah, that's all quite nice, but ... how about some tangible support? And thus, my very own blue-and-yellow challenge was born. 

This little guy was posted on the first day, March 31. I promised to donate $1 to some relief effort for each person who commented on the picture. Later in the challenge I expanded it to include some intriguing facts or stories about each picture. 

That first photo obligated me to donate $47, by my own rules. There's a local restaurant that was sponsoring refugees in a tiny village in Slovakia and doing a fundraiser of their own. I liked the idea of direct giving, and of closing the loop -- this was the restaurant that hosted our sea shanty pub sings in happier times -- so they got our first day's pledges.

The second day's photo came with the story "...we have seen blue bioluminescence edging the waves like a strand of diamonds, camping overnight on a beach near Savaneta on Aruba. The next day was j’ouvert morning. The party started at 4 am so we didn’t want to waste money on a hotel room we’d only sleep in for half the night. And it turned out the beach camping was a glorious part of the adventure!"

Ukraine blue and yellow challenge day 3: Italian Deruta ceramic. Right before the world shut down at the end of February 2020, Dan was in a very serious scuba diving accident. We rented a beautiful furnished townhouse in Crescent Beach across the street from the ocean for him to heal. The townhouse was filled with lovely travel souvenirs, expensive musical instruments, and more, all graciously offered for our use. We were super careful with everything, but in the very last week we were there, we broke a ceramic spoon rest. I couldn’t find an exact replacement, but found this one instead that seemed to vibe with the owner’s style. Liked it so much I bought one for ourselves as well. And now every time I use it, (which is, um, every day) I’m reminded of the peaceful sunrises, reconnection with nature, and happy visits from friends we had while there. 

The owner of the townhouse we rented was one of the commenters on my photo of the spoonrest. So it made perfect sense to have her choose the recipient of that day's pledge money; she selected a way to support a music-festival fundraiser. Doubly meaningful because she was personally affected. She's Russian and still has numerous family members in both Russia and Ukraine.

Ukraine blue-and-yellow photo challenge Day 4: colour palettes. Sometimes a work of art becomes the inspiration for something else, like the color scheme for decorating a room. In this case, Van Gogh's famous "starry night" painting inspired this unique yarn. Shout out to my crafty knitting friends!

Ukraine blue-and-yellow photo challenge Day 5: US Navy precision flying demonstration team "Blue Angels." They perform their amazing aerial stunts every May in Annapolis, they are inspiring. This fancy flying is a stylized version of something with an important purpose -- in a wartime situation these would be the techniques they'd use to avoid radar, or come in fast and low and then quickly rise out of range, or fly together so precisely that radar perceives only one object instead of 4, as the attached photo shows. FWIW, when we lived in Denver we learned that rodeo is similar in this regard - performance of a stylized version of what were everyday tasks (in that case, ranching). 

I was having fun, finding blue-and-yellow images everywhere! And I could tell that my challenge was growing and catching on; a friend who was a USNA grad saw this picture and offered to match the amount I pledged as a result of comments from that day. Another cruising friend told us about someone she knew personally, who was gathering baby food and medical supplies in the Czech Republic and bringing them into Ukraine under cover of darkness; we sent the day's pledges to him via PayPal.

Ukraine blue-and-yellow photo challenge Day 6: Abstract. This wasn’t the photo I had planned for today, but in light of the news of deliberate civilian casualties, here’s a reminder that we think of war as a distant abstraction (but it’s not!) As in the past, for each person who comments on the photo of the day we will pledge $1 to charity. Costs you nothing.

Ukrainian blue and yellow photo challenge Day 7: Pysanka. These are Ukrainian decorated Easter eggs traditionally they are not painted but dyed. The designs are done using wax to protect areas of the eggshells from taking on dye, and the wax is either painted on with a pinhead (!!) or scratched in. The designs are incredibly intricate and colourful; if you google it it will look like a rainbow exploded on your screen. 

Ukraine photo challenge Day 8: Damselfish and Macaws. Kinda hard to top the intricate eggs from yesterday with anything else human made so I’ll let Nature show itself off today with tropical fauna of air and sea. (On FB this was side-by-side with the following photo)

On Day 9 I was already approaching $250 of my own money plus $100 from our USNA friends so I started thinking about wrapping things up. I challenged other people who had been playing along to flood their timelines too!

"wrapping up"

Raise a toast -- we did it! Why did I say "we" did it? Because every comment my friends made -- even the snarky ones -- encouraged the algorithm to show it to more people, and then more and more ... and maybe, just maybe, made some people think.