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Twelve Projects: Helping Refugees + Understanding Policy πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ (Update 3.1)

Helping does not have to be hard. In this post, I share how I built a resource collection for refugees of the Ukraine War.
Twelve Projects: Helping Refugees + Understanding Policy πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ (Update 3.1)
If you want to help people affected by the Ukraine War, you can find vetted resources here.

But I don't know where to start?
πŸ’Ά Have a couple of euros extra? Donate.
🏠 Have accommodation that you don't use? Provide accommodation for refugees.
🧰 Have a helpful skill? Help with that skill.

This is not limited to the Ukraine situation. There are enough people in this world displaced by wars. Help them out if you can.

The Ukraine War hits home.

  1. I am a war refugee myself. My parents fled with me from Yugoslavia to Austria.
  2. The current Russian regime is a continuation of oppressive politics that has haunted our families over the past decades (deportation; killing; etc.).
  3. I have family and friends in both Russia and Ukraine right now.

No matter how hard it is for someone like me, there's millions of people who are trying to survive and escape right now.

My friend Philipp challenged me to funnel my emotions (anger; anxiety; uncertainty) into something useful. I'm glad we had this conversation.

In this newsletter I'll share with you what I've done so far and what might be next. I'm doing this to see if you have any feedback or ideas that could help.

Ukraina Guide: Documenting Helpful Information πŸ“’

Over the past days, I created a website with helpful resources for refugees of the Ukraine War.

Landing on a Helpful Idea

On the second day of the war, some Ukrainian friends (primarily the women of the family) made it to Vienna. Their next question was: Now what?

My mom asked me to look into visa rules for Ukrainian citizens trying to stay in Austria πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ή

A couple of hypotheses:

  • There are most likely more people who have this question
  • There are most likely people who have this question for other countries (Poland; Romania; etc.)
  • Navigating bureaucracies is difficult
  • Navigating information in emotional distress is overwhelming
  • Navigating information during an information war is difficult (what's truthful vs. what's incorrect/fake)?

Bottomline: Many people (n) are trying to access the same information (1).

If you are trying to communicate evergreen/solid-state information, documentation is your best bet. // source: https://remotefabric.com/courses/documentation

Step #1: Create Notion Database

The idea: Create a Notion database with the following functions:

  1. Create a country database
  2. Create a visa database
  3. Create a transportation database
  4. Create a "links/helpful resources" database

Once this is in place, relate all entries of databases #2 - #4 to the relevant countries.

Screenshot from my Notion workspace. Setting up the basic structure took an hour or so. After that it was organically evolving whenever I spotted an error or got specific feedback.

I set up my Notion databases as I always do.

Step #2: Buy Domain + Set Up Website

I did a quick name search on InstantDomainSearch and landed on ukraina.guide - a nice descriptive domain name.

Why ukrainA and not ukrainE?

Well, in Ukrainian you refer to the country as Ukraina. The primary audience are refugees from Ukraine. That's why it ends on an 'a' and not on an 'e'.

How did I set up the website?

I used super.so - a service that renders Notion pages into super fast static websites. On top, you can set your custom domains so that instead of this:


you get this:


This is what super looks on the backend πŸ‘‡

Step #3: Tool Stack + Management of Information

Many tools in my tool stack are free to use:

  • Notion: Database + CMS [free]
  • Namecheap: Domain hosting & management [$28.16/yr]
  • Super: Rendering of Notion pages into static websites on a custom domain [€12/mo]
  • Tally: Form at the bottom of ukraina.guide to collect user feedback [free]
  • Figma: Free design tool to create share images for website [free]
  • Plausible: Privacy-friendly analytics, that I use for all my projects [€107.10/yr]
With figma it's super easy to create standardized assets.

Ukraina.Guide: How Is It Going?

This is the most meaningful project that I've worked on so far:

Traffic numbers seem to be going up and I might have to upgrade my analytics subscription.

Ukraina.Guide: What's Next?

Luckily most of the information in the guide is solid-state information. It means it doesn't change much. (I created an entire online course about this)

The European Union has helped with this, since it has done a truly 80/20 effort on the refugee visa topic: The EU activated the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in its history πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί

I wrote on Ukraina.Guide what this means:

Refugees of the Ukraine War are given the right to stay inside the bloc for at least one year, a period that will be automatically extended for a further year. Member states can then decide to prolong the exceptional measure by one more year if the war continues.

Rights for the beneficiaries of temporary protection, including:

* a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection (which can last from one year to three years),
* appropriate information on temporary protection,
* access to employment,
* access to accommodation or housing,
* access to social welfare or means of subsistence,
* access to medical treatment,
* access to education for minors,
* opportunities for families to reunite in certain circumstances, and
* guarantees for access to the normal asylum procedure.

The protection will apply to Ukrainian nationals and their relatives, as well as to long-term residents from other nationalities who are unable to go back safely to their country of origin.

Short-term residents, like seasonal workers and exchange students, will not benefit from the temporary protection but will be nevertheless allowed to enter EU territory to plan their return trips.

It is recommended not to submit an application for asylum. The Temporary Protection Directive is valid immediately.

Since this is the first time the Temporary Protection Directive has been invoked in the EU, countries have to set up offline and online infrastructure for registering refugees of the Ukraine War. You should be able to register in the coming days.

TL;DR: If you know anyone who fled from Ukraine, they have the right to stay and work in the EU for up to three years.

If you have ideas on how to improve the usefulness or distribution of this guide, please let me know.

Any feedback helps and I will update the site whenever I find/receive new information.

The main takeaway: Each of us can help in different ways.

Look inside and see what you are particularly good at. This can be your starting point.

What's Next: Policy, Energy, and OSINT

I don't know what I'll build or write next.

But I know what I'm curious about:

#1: EU Policy x Energy πŸ”‹

A massive red flag during the past two weeks was Germany's energy dependency on Russian oil/gas and how it seemingly impacted policy decisions.

I want to understand the high-level picture and then drill down into the details:

  • Basics (what is energy)
  • Energy Demand (who/what/how much)
  • Energy Supply (who/what/how much)
  • Delta (which levers we can adjust to play with supply/demand)
  • Infrastructure (extraction; transportation; storage; utilization)
  • Value Chain (who are the players)
  • Legal (constraints; requirements)
  • Policy (how does all of the above depend on and inform policy)

Most likely I will write a couple of posts about this to understand it myself.

If you have any resources/insights/thoughts/feedback/etc about these topics, please let me know.

#2: OSINT πŸ•΅οΈ

OSINT = Open-source intelligence

What is it? Read this article for a good primer πŸ‘‡

Amateur open-source researchers went viral unpacking the war in Ukraine
From college sophomores to 9-to-5 IT workers, hobbyist OSINT accounts are reconstructing events on the ground.

Why is it useful? Collectives like Bellingcat are working with open-sourece researchers to document war crimes.

Irrefutable/data-driven evidence of war crimes is collected and validated.

This makes it easier for organizations such as the ICC (International Criminal Court) to build a case against war criminals.

If you have any resources/insights/thoughts/feedback/etc about these topics, please let me know.

Other Resources

Helpful/interesting links I have found over the past weeks:




  • SWIFT: Moving Money Internationally [Pat McKenzie] β†’ Patrick is one of the best writers about the payment industry. This is a great overview of SWIFT as an extended policy instrument to execute "Commander's Intent"
  • Tech and War [Ben Thompson] β†’ Ben writes about the important distinction between "capabilities vs intentions" when it comes to tech companies... the corollary is that tech platforms are potentially powerful policy tools similar to SWIFT
  • How are the Big Sanctions hurting Russia so far? [Noah Smith] β†’ Private company sanctions + inflation + import-dependence = no bueno


  • Pod Save the World [Tommy Vietor & Ben Rhodes] β†’ No-BS conversations about policy (both worked in different functions during the Obama Administration)
What are you reading these days?

Twelve Projects

Chances are you have been following me because of my focus on company building and micro-businesses.

Earlier this year I started the 12 projects in 12 months challenge and so far I have shipped 11 finished projects.

Screenshot from my idea bank.

I have to be honest: I don't know what the coming weeks will bring.

Last time I sent this newsletter I wrote about our experience fleeing the War in Yugoslavia. Many of you have replied (Charlene; Emmy; Sunil; Mo; David; Marko; Simon; Elie; Mat; and many others).

I wanted to thank you for that! In times like these it goes a long way.

If you are reading this I would love to know what you are up.

Just reply to this email and tell me wassup. πŸ™Œ

Peace, Art

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