As the world watches the Russian invasion with horror, the City of Santa Monica and its people are seeking to do their part to support the people of Ukraine.
In a Feb. 8 City Council meeting Councilmembers voted unanimously to condemn the unprovoked invasion and tragic violence being waged on the peaceful nation of Ukraine.
Council also directed the City Manager to take a look at Santa Monica’s finances and investments to research any ways the City can economically sanction Russia. Potential steps discussed include divesting of any City fund possessing Russian assets and lobbying CalPERS in favor of divesting any state funds possessing Russian assets and termination of state contracts with Russian firms.
Council also took symbolic measures to demonstrate solidarity with Ukrainian citizens including offering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Santa Monica. A bouquet of sunflowers, which has become a symbol of the Ukraine’s resistance, were placed in front of the council dais. The flowers were grown in the Will Rogers Learning Community farm and donated to Council in a show of support for Ukrainian democracy.
“I’ve been looking at the beautiful bouquet of sunflowers that was donated by the Will Rogers Learning Community tonight to our meeting and the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine,” said Councilmember Phil Brock. “They need every great thought that we can possibly give them and I hope that all of you in your own way will find ways to help the people of Ukraine overcome the great disaster that is befalling them.”
On Feb. 28 City Hall was lit in the national colors of Ukraine, blue and yellow, and the City tweeted that this symbolism was “to share the City’s support for the people of Ukraine as they face unimaginable devastation. To every community and staff member who is Ukrainian or has family in the region, we stand in solidarity with you.” A day prior, hundreds of protesters gathered on the Third Street Promenade and called for an end to the bloodshed in Ukraine and stronger national sanctions against Russia.
Many local businesses and organizations have stepped in to raise money for relief efforts in the Ukraine.
Rustic Canyon and the Gourmandise School participated in a charity baking fundraiser organized by Gather for Good. Montana flower shop Holy Chic is donating 100 percent of the revenue from its blue and yellow flower arrangements to the non-profit organization Razom, which is providing medical aid in Ukraine. The Santa Monica College Foundation has started a SMC Ukrainian Student Relief Fund to support Ukrainian students who are unable to return home and need additional financial support. More information is available at santamonicacollegefoundation.org/ukrainian_student_relief