We sat with Chad for an interview in MolodoZeleno, the city's new venue which has already had its fair share of hype, drawing flocks of visitors every night. Chad was a member of the big team behind the project. There are many other successful Lviv projects in his portfolio. Nine years ago he came to Ukraine from Greece and has been living and working here since. "My mother is of Lebanese origin, my father is Greek. Therefore, I consider myself Mediterranean" he says.
– Why did you choose to move to Ukraine and Lviv in particular?
It was a pure chance. I had three options where to go, one of them being Ukraine. It happened so that my very close friend, who had lived in Ukraine for some time, persuaded me to move nowhere else but here. One more friend, a Ukrainian woman, also suggested that I should choose this country. Frankly speaking, I had hardly known anything about the country before I moved here. After I decided on Ukraine, I started googling some information and photos of the country and Lviv.
– Was it difficult to start working in Ukraine?
It was indeed. Very difficult. But it was nine years ago. As for me, the situation has somewhat changed and it would have been a little easier now. Overall, for a foreigner it is difficult to start working effectively if they do not speak Ukrainian. Otherwise they would need a person who would translate everything for them and whom they could fully trust.
– You are saying it was very difficult at the beginning, so why did you choose to stay in Lviv after all?
Despite all the difficulties, Lviv residents made a very positive impression on me: people in Ukraine are fair and friendly, they are not two-faced. Now I see that over time people have become even more open. There are more foreigners in Lviv now while local residents have significantly improved their command of english. All this has convinced me to stay and get involved in projects in Lviv and Ukraine.
– Which of your projects were the biggest success, in your opinion?
Well, now all of my projects are approximately on the same level. we did a good job with restaurant and event business projects, Table and Night Ambassadors. The MolodoZeleno project had a good start.
– One of Ukrainian media outlets recently called you the "Night Mayor" of Lviv. It is a common international practice: there are night mayors in Berlin, Amsterdam, New York and Tokyo. In Ukraine, people may not fully understand this concept, that city "night mayors" have an important mission to ensure an effective coexistence of business, authorities and local residents.
Yes, this is a common practice in big cities around the world. I am planning to meet the night mayor of New York, Ariel Palitz, and even build cooperation with her in order to share experience and ideas. right from the start, I should have called the Night Ambassadors project, which is being implemented in Lviv today, the Night Mayor. But I believe that when there is a team, there are many good ideas, it is better to create a collective large-scale project.
– Is there a social component in your projects?
Lviv almost does not have a night life. For example, you have had a rough week at work and you want to get some rest, or your friends from another city or country are in town and you want to spend some quality time with them but longer than until 10 p.m. It is quite a problem because police would tell you after 10 p.m. that Lviv has to sleep.
It is a task of the night mayor to make the city safer, especially at night, to make sure everything has been agreed with authorities so that local residents could feel absolutely safe. The Night Ambassadors team shoulders great responsibility for any events it organizes. This is a social component of our work.
– What are the Lviv night mayor's plans for the future?
I dream of implementing a project called City Maker. It will be similar to a civic movement (although I do not like the term as there are plenty of civic movements in Ukraine and you do not know which one is good and which is bad. Unfortunately, there is no rating like Uber or TripAdvisor for them). The goal of this project is to develop and revitalize stagnant neighborhoods in Lviv by turning them into big comfort zones for work, networking and entertainment as well as to create new jobs.
– What do you think should be changed in Lviv to make it as comfortable for foreigners as possible?
I would simply start with the airport. Quite often I see unfriendly employees of various services. whereas this is the first thing people arriving in Ukraine and Lviv see. I think that airports must be made more comfortable. Also, the city should have at least one zone working at night. It should be arranged in a place where it would not disturb local residents.
I would really like to see more investors from Europe with experience and a clear vision of how everything should be organized in the city. I would even like the foreigners who have long been living in Ukraine and caring about this country's welfare to have a chance to take part in representative government offices. I think these people would be happy to share their ideas while the city and the country as a whole would only win from this!
Author: Iya Stepaniuk
Photos: provided by Chad Zoratly, shutterstock.com.