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Helping Ukraine with Marta Molinska

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magento-association Marta Molinska

Commerce running, talking geek

We talk with Marta Molinska (@molme) about how she has helped hundreds of Ukrainian refugees as they crossed the border during the war. We talk a little about the Magento Association and how Marta is helping with events and the community. Ukraine can still use your help!


Marta runs a sky diving business in Poland and is passionate about the Magento Community.


Brent: Welcome to this special episode of the Magento association. Talk Commerce collaboration to bring out more about the Magento association and what we’re doing to help the Magento community today. I have Marta Molinska Marta, please introduce yourself. Tell us what you do on a day to day basis.

Brent: And one of your passions in. 

Marta: That’s a very nice way of introducing myself when it comes to passion because what I do on a daily basis is my passion. So I run a drop zone. So we are jumping out of planes and my personal role on the drop zone is to teach people how to And my side job is actually involved in Magento and Magento association as well.

Marta: I’ve been organizing Meet Magento Poland for 9 years straight and now I’m more involved in Magento association and in helping with communication with some consulting and I guess that I try to be a kind of maybe not community manager because it’s for me, the community is not something that you can manage.

Marta: It’s something that you can join and be part of it. And I guess that I want to be a part of it. 

Brent: Thank you so much. And so today we’re gonna talk a little bit about Ukraine and how people can help Ukraine and maybe how both the Magento community and the Magento association can participate in helping Ukraine.

Brent: So sure. Give us a little bit of background on, on what you’ve been doing so far. 

Marta: It’s it’s already a few months since the war broke. But the first weeks were obviously the most intense a couple of days after this shocking news when when Russia attacked Ukraine we in Poland, we were devastated.

Marta: And as I said, we were just in shock, but after a few days and when the migration crisis took place on the border we saw a horrible, horrible videos and pictures from from the border. We could see that the huge crisis is coming. And I guess that the whole nation was thinking just the same, but I need to step in.

Marta: I need to do something and people just open their houses, they open their their homes and they really welcomed total strangers. Of course, if someone that, needs help you’re open to share some of your personal space, but it I think that it never happened. At this scale, it was hundreds of, and thousands of people who welcomed Ukrainians in their homes.

Marta: But I saw that it’s not enough. And since I don’t have much space in my house but I do have a lot of spaces at the airfield as my drop zone, especially in the winter time when we are not operating. We decided quickly to share every inch of space that we had and we recreated every office and the room that we had to the refugee center.

Marta: And yes, as mentioned before the first week was we’re very busy and we had hundreds of people not at the same time though. We had a rotation. So families were coming in they stayed for a few days or weeks depending on what their next plan was. And then when they left new families were coming in.

Marta: Yeah, a rotation system. And then after each family left one by one we continued to help in their settling in process. Like with finding a job or doing some paperwork with school or providing some basic supplies for the new start you can just imagine people.

Marta: coming to to Poland with all their belongings, not in the suitcase, not in even, a backpack. It were just a plastic bags like from Walmart, and they were occurring at for 2000 kilometers. It’s I don’t know, 3000 miles. Yeah, that, that was something that was obviously the most intense time of my life.

Marta: That’s for sure. And the most rewarding as well. And from this point I also wanted to thank a lot some Magento community members that stepped up really quick and helped me to continue the work because on the very beginning, it was quite easy to gather funds for running the shelter.

Marta: But since it’s not my daily job to run this kind of places I had no competencies to do this. And also not much resources. First of all Karen Baker, she was the first to help me out with covering some basic costs that we had on the beginning. And also Hyva especially Vinai and Willem.

Marta: I was touch with them from the very start and 10% of their income for two months was dedicated to the shelter that I was running. And also a lot of other people coordinated to my PayPal account. It really helped. It was not in vain. It never occurred to me that I had so many friends who wanted to help.

Marta: I really appreciate it. And you can be really proud of yourself. You help? A lot of people, we had 426 people in total at the shelter and yeah, including 270 kids. So thank you very much. 

Brent: Is the shelter still going or there was no need her things.

Brent: Okay. Yes. So things are start. I don’t wanna say normal, but 

Marta: they’re, it is still far from normal. We didn’t have to keep the shelter up and running after end of May. So we had it for three months. But I have to admit that it felt like it was three years really. But yeah, after three months it was no longer needed because.

Marta: The waves of refugees started to fade out and people found their more permanent places to stay. So that was one reason. And second reason is, was that we needed to start our operations. So we needed the spaces for our usual business as well. But on the other hand, we we still have a couple of processes that are

Marta: open and they’re constant. Together with my dad I’m not, I don’t think that he’s ever going to listen to this, but still I’m really proud of him because he’s keeping up an amazing work for the past weeks. He was able to gather funds for four ambulances. And now he just got an amazing support again from Magento community from fi and Tomic KKA.

Marta: Many of you might know them from Devant company. They were really helpful and they were so kind to donate money for two ambulances, which are going to Ukraine in a couple of days 

Brent: I saw some stories about ambulances that were coming into Ukraine and then volunteers that were going to the front line to help evacuate people, especially older.

Brent: I think a lot of elderly people that are stuck in that area are finding it very hard to leave or just even evacuate or at the time, especially, it was very difficult for them to move across that area. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, I applaud you. And I thank you so much for all your hard work.

Brent: That is so great. 

Marta: It’s something that we are neighbors. We can’t really, leave our brother nation. When they’re at war, we just need to step up. 

Brent: That’s good. Switching gears into the Magento association. I think, I think that as you’ve helped with the Ukrainian crisis, you’ve also always helped with Magento and Meet Magento, and now Magento association.

Brent: Do you wanna talk a little bit about what you’re doing for the Magento association 

Marta: now? Of course I’m happy. For we started our cooperation on the beginning of the year. It was just, it was short before the war started. So the beginning of the cooperation was a bit hectic.

Marta: I shifted my focus on on the shelter, but now we are obviously back on track and I’m pretty much involved in events. I guess this is my domain and I helped in organizing MA connect this year and also in previous year as well. We have two additions. And one addition in 2020 when the pandemic started and one in 2021 and 20 22 now.

Marta: So yeah, I was pretty much involved in, and I hope that we’ll be back in within next month with some good news about new events. 

Brent: I saw that Adobe is going to have their summit in Las Vegas in March of 2023. So hopefully we can come up with a Magento association event that piggybacks on the Adobe summit and have a little bit more Magento representation at the event.

Brent: I would love. Yeah, as I remember too, there’s a down payment at somewhere in Las Vegas, still. , that they used. That’s true. There was a 2020 event that was planned. I’m sitting on the Magento. Membership committee and I am always looking for ways that we can entice people to join

Brent: the Magento association. I just interviewed Vijay Golani from India on some of his ideas on how we can get people to join. Do you have any thoughts on encouraging people to join the Magento association and the reasons why they 

Marta: would obviously the first reason. To be more present in the community and to, for example, to be able to vote when you have the voting, you can say that you have the real influence on what’s going on within Magento association. But obviously there are also other ways You only want to get involved in in the Magento community you can reach out to Magento association and there are a lot of committees that work on a regular basis.

Marta: So it’s it’s very easy to to join or to suggest some ideas, but you are asking how we could encourage people to join. I am a fan of asking the community directly what they want, because we can think that we know, but maybe we don’t, maybe we just assume that something and if we start with wrong assumptions that we would go wrong direction.

Marta: So if we ask the community what the community really wants, then we can address the needs that really exist. 

Brent: I think you’ve been involved in the Magento community for a long time. You’ve been involved in meet Magento, Poland in the past. What is it that drives you to want to be in a in the community and organize events? You’ve done so much for the community. What is it that lies within you that makes you want to do that?

Marta: I wish I knew I don’t know. It’s I’m a very community person. And the same as in my skydiving community, we have we have a lot of connections and this is something that I really like about the Magento ecosystem. It’s not the only business, like there are a lot of different initiatives, different backgrounds, different companies.

Marta: Everyone has the same goal. Obviously we are in a business it’s it’s our way to make a living. But still it’s something more than that. Maybe that’s why I still stick with the Magento community because it’s still alive. It’s still there. I know it sounds like a cliche, but still it’s about the people.

Marta: And I like so much being around Magento folks that I can’t really describe this and maybe that’s why I stick to events, because where to meet Magento people just on the events. Yeah. That’s why we missed in person events so 

Brent: much. . Yeah I agree. There’s some sort of magic there. I don’t know.

Brent: I haven’t been in, I’ve been involved in other communities, but it hasn’t been as magical as this and maybe there’s definitely a people aspect to it. I always enjoy, I enjoy going to meet Megento Poland, meet Megento Germany, nether. All those different places and traveling and meeting all those people.

Brent: And it isn’t the event so much, it is the people. And then when you start to get to know those people and enjoy their company and having some time with them, I think that’s the important part. Do you think there’s another community that can match the vibrance of the Magento community? Do you think it’s unique in any way or is there anything that’s this magic Elixer 

Marta: I don’t know if there are any other communities which might be similar to Magento.

Marta: It has an orange vibe, and I guess this is a really unique group of people coming in and coming out also because it’s a living organism. It’s not like a solid rock, I guess That’s exactly why it is unique. It shapes our real from day one to now and to the future.

Brent: Yeah. I think part of the uniqueness too, it was born from the founders of Magento Roy and Yoav and then Bob Schwartz and even Mark Lavell really embraced the community. I saw that, when eBay did their, when they were there, there was a kind of a drop off and. when when Mark Lavell started again, he really embraced it.

Brent: And I think that’s part of it is that the, whatever the brand is that’s around the community. If there is a brand, there has to be buyin from all parties, I think is part of it. And now I think Magento’s finding its place in the world with Mage-OS and the Magento Association.

Brent: I think it’s starting to find its feet again. 

Marta: I really hope that Magento association is is going to play a major role in shaping this Magento reality. And I know that it is not always been perceived as an important player, but now when the changes are being applied, the changes that are

Marta: really going to reshape the Magento association and with the more open attitude to, towards the community. I really think that we are going to make some difference. 

Brent: Yeah. I can say that from the membership side, from the event side, there’s a lot of very exciting things happening and I’m seeing a lot more transparency, especially from the Magento association.

Brent: So we’re seeing more about what’s happening internally and we’re seeing more news from each of the community meetings and it’s an exciting time and I’m very excited for what you’re doing in events and I you’ve joined our membership committee as well. And and had some very good insight for us.

Brent: Thank you. Marta as we finish out, I give everybody an opportunity to do a shameless plug about anything you’d like to plug today. What would you like to plug. 

Marta: I think we can, we started with with Ukraine and to be honest, I would like to end our episode also with a personal request for, to each of you.

Marta: If you can find a way to help Ukraine, everyone wanted to help on the very beginning and was eager. Either send money or supplies or to help in any other way, like offering jobs and so on. But after some weeks this general willingness to help faded a little bit and the war didn’t fight that much.

Marta: Didn’t fight at all, actually. So Ukraine still needs a lot of help. So each of us can really make a difference. I can say from my heart that every single act of kindness or any single act of help is changing someone s life. So I would really like to each of you to find a way to.

Marta: Ukraine in any way you can 

Brent: thank you. Yeah it does. It starts with one person. I before this, I was talking to Dmitri from Swiss labs, Swiss up labs, and he also had a very good recommendation for a paramedic service. We will put any recommendations in our show notes today and make those links available to everyone.

Brent: Marta, what is your next event coming up? What is your next big thing you’re gonna be doing? 

Marta: We’ll, I hope it’s going to be either ma connect. So our online event, or maybe a Magento association in person event, we’re still figuring out the details, but I really hope this is it.

Brent: Yeah, me too. Marta, it’s been so great talking to you. Thank you for the time. Thank you for a wonderful evening. Thank 

Marta: you. Bye bye. Bye.

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