It is, as the supersonic crow flies, 6,145 miles between Sonoma and our Ukrainian Sister City, Kaniv, nestled on the bank of the Dnieper River about two hours northwest of the capital, Kyiv (known in Russian as Kiev).
Distance in the Internet age has been radically redefined. While a gripping, geopolitical drama unfolds in Ukraine – with Russian troops occupying part of the Crimean peninsula, and as President Obama’s political enemies accuse him of being a weak-kneed patsy (Sarah Palin, who is a foreign policy expert because she can see Russia from her kitchen window, called Obama “one who wears mom jeans ... and bloviates”), events surrounding our Sister City seem at once a universe away and right next door.
As individuals, and as members of a small community, there is an understandable instinct to shrug our shoulders and ask, what can we possibly do that could have any effect on the fate of Ukraine, and why should we care?
We’ll deal with the first question in a moment, but first let’s think about why we should care.
The Sister Cities program has been described by some as a superficial, feel-good waste of time and money, and by others as a meaningful way for citizens from distant points on the globe to explore and celebrate their common interests and their unique differences.