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PHOTOS: Heritage, identity embraced by Ukrainians because of war


This Is Reno photographer and video journalist Ty O’Neil, whose passion lies with documenting conflict zones, traveled to Europe to document the war in Ukraine and its impacts. This Is Reno will continue to follow Ty’s efforts in Ukraine as he is able to send them.

LVIV, Ukraine–The sun is bright and the temperature is chilly but comfortable. Children play in parks as their families sip coffee. For a moment, things feel normal. 

Lviv is, at this moment, a bustling center with cafes, restaurants, tourist shops and attractions buzzing with people. It’s busy not because of a lack of war but because of it.

This is not an accident or an attempt by locals to ignore the war. Rather, it is a moment to keep Ukrainians strong and to reinforce their heritage and identity. 

Oleksandra Sladkove, head of the Lviv ecology department, gives a tour in one of the city's parks.
A guide gives a tour in one of the city’s parks. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Pavlo Hudimov, head of Ya Gallery, spoke at the government hosted media center about Russia’s attempt to change, destroy and lie about Ukraine’s heritage and history. Russia’s attempt to label Ukraine as a Nazi nation committing genocide is part of this effort, he said. 

Hudimov said it is artists who can reinforce the real heritage of Ukraine.

Part of the effort includes free walking tours around the city and its parks. 

Oleksandra Sladkove, head of the Lviv ecology department, said she was meeting people in parks and talking about what kind of tree they were looking at or other park features. 

Sladkove said that on one of the first tours they thought only a few people would attend, but ended up having more than 100, forcing the speaker to yell the whole time. They use a loudspeaker now.

While many of those who are on the tours are not from Lviv, they are from Ukraine. 

It’s unknown if Lviv will see destruction like the other cities of Ukraine have suffered from the Russian invasion, but those in Lviv are making an effort to learn and make memories of the city as it is today.

Ty O'Neil
Ty O'Neil
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.