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The Trans-National Alliance Constitution

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 12:20

by Pat Raphael

…then we saw Venice, and it was a good land, so we said let’s take this land. All while blazing a jay at the 420Box with a bunch tactical thinking strategists, spending more of the day than you might imagine, in deep thought about how to earn and keep their lot of this good land. These earnestly searching neighbors are creating the Trans-National Alliance, as a means to offer their great talents to Venice. Our creation is such a locally scalable way for the people to reclaim their inherent powers, that our conversations soon began to refer to the TNA as the fourth branch — the people’s branch. And that’s when the true strategy really became clear to me — it is “we” who are the “people”. That’s when I came to know that seeing the vast goodness of Venice, and desiring to be part of it, is not enough to have our lot in this good land. We also have to identify the great strongholds and powerful chiefs who now reign and occupy within the land, and as overcomers, wrest from them their grip that is leading our paradise away from it’s history and course of goodness.

The true strategy is to see what (or who) the vast and good land, over-flowing with such awesomeness, really is. Once we understand that great awesomeness is gushing out of every block of our seaside paradise because of people who fill these blocks, it becomes clear that the vast goodness of the land is contained within the vast goodness of Venetians. There was goodness in Abbott Kinney, a vast goodness in his vision to creating a cool and unique place for families to come and have a good time. History shows that the exact vision did not materialize as ol’ Abbott saw it, but he still left us a vast lineage of goodness as we see Venice morphed into becoming the people’s beach, highly influenced by the middle class black folks of Oakwood. The lineage was kept by these hard-working professionals and service employees (many in the swanky hotels and beach resorts of Santa Monica), who maintained and cultivated the vast goodness they inherited, by keeping a different character alive on this beach than the “feel” of SaMo to the north nor the vibe of that monied yacht life to the south in Marina del Rey. Then came the artists, the musicians, the poets and loud talkers, along with freaks from A to Z. And they brought with them their own vast goodness too; not finding a place anywhere else, yet here in Venice we found a spot for every misfit. It took years, going on like this, before they with all the dollars decided that they just had to buy up Venice. But the roots of goodness run deep here. So deep, that dollars can not come and easily transform or corrupt what generations of good people have built with their lives.

So if it’s the people who make up all that is good about Venice, we squeeze the greatest good out of Venice by creating conditions for more of the people to come together and act in unity. Pursuit of this unity, have left me sensitive to the influences and mindsets that make it impossible for us to achieve this unity. We are too often bound in powerlessness, and recognize that as long as we remain divided, we can never grow into any sort of effective operation of the great potential for good contained within our TNA. And this was the overarching goal of our alliance right at its inception — to unify our voice into a positive execution of our goodwill: an app that can tap into our power to do better, together. Standing in the way of this great good from taking place, are the great strongholds and powerful chiefs (now choking the good land with their occupation), that we must identify and overcome, so that in their absence, we can fully occupy and inherit this vast and good land of Venetians.

These powerful chiefs and strongholds now choking the good land, really do fully occupy the whole land. They have such a full lock on they land that they work together to support each other in maintaining a solidified grip over the whole land. Say a growing Venetian works to take ground of their good land, and begins to overcome some of these powerful chiefs… their reign is such that this growth is noted, and quick reinforcement is sent in other areas, so the land can continue and remain in full control of these powerful forces. Don’t forget, the land is the people, so the stronghold forces we describe here are mental conditions that reign as chief over how (even good) people think.

The first of these powerful forces, now choking the good land so that its vast goodness is not available for us to enjoy, reigning as chief over much our land is KING FEAR. This truly is the first strongholds to overcome. And these cats at the 42Box, a bunch of strategic tacticians, understand what a military stronghold is: it’s a fort from where the king’s Generals deploy their troops. So just imagine coming at you: fear of dying, fear of getting hurt, fear of missing out, fear of looking stupid, fear of the government coming to take your guns, fear of the white supremacist agenda (which deep down, is the fear of a black planet). Don’t forget the pesticides in the food chain, infections that resist antibiotics, the U.N. Troops, FEMA camps, climate change, and that angry orange finger on the button. Add to that, the fear of not being liked, fear of getting old, fear of making the wrong life choices, and on and on and on… The list of fears (as a negative emotion) that can occupy our mind, and leave less of our essence available for positive considerations, can go on forever. This truly is a hard stronghold to overcome, since fear keeps itself rooted in our psyche by making us feel like our survival depends on it — and we continue in fear, perversely thinking we would not be here, if we didn’t go around all scared… thus fulfilling a negative feedback loop. Fear leaves our nerves on edge, and keeps our minds working overtime as we seek a strategy to assuage or counter the involuntary live wire of negative poison fearfully flowing into our soul. And fear-rooted calculations to solve our problems, never seem to add up. Like fearful people talking loud and beating their chest about what they can do. More often, the louder the braggadocio, the more scared the shouter. And scared people are dangerously unpredictable — how often does that loud talkin’ actually makes a hearer afraid, and their reaction catches the loud talker off guard? It takes a level head to come out from under dominion of KING FEAR, but since much of what moves fear may be involuntary, the only attack on this chief, is to rightly place our fear on a proper outlet. All other fears begin to recede, when we learn to only fear God, and missing out on what God is doing in the land today. That one little adjustment in our outlet of fear will start us on a path of wisdom — the will to DO what we KNOW is right.

With fear reigning over much of the land, and nerves on edge from an endless stream of frights flowing in, we quickly cede some of the good land over to KING ANGER. Walk around afraid enough, for long enough, you will eventually become a mean and angry person. How can the Trans-National Alliance ever work together as a unified group of activists, if we are all short-fused and continually in angry contention with one another? I’ve seen first hand, in dialogue, how members who are on the same “team”, get so angry with one another that they start speaking to each other in the worst, most biting language they can come up with… then later to see them come back, and say they didn’t mean those angry things. Even if apologies are exchanged and we go on together, too often the shattered remains of anger can never fully be repaired. Just like fear-rooted calculations never seem to add up, you also can not think clearly, when thinking in anger. This is how we overcome our good land: we learn to take true stock of our mental state, and put positive effort to our intention of addressing the shortcomings we see.

Dealing with anger, we’ve come to see that this is a chief that can best be defeated with time on our side. When we get a stimulus that triggers our anger, growth in this area will teach us to do a mental 10-count before we respond. After that 10-count, even if we use the same initial words that came, a ‘lil time buffs out some of the sting in the delivery… and sometimes a 10-count gives us time to do a 20-count, which then tell us to sleep on it, before reacting. A response in the right time is often more measured and well thought out, then the blurt exploded out in anger. And don’t let one of these angry outbursts blow up when it is clearly seen that we are rightfully angered… if we’re not measured, nothing will survive our megatons of wrath… but in the aftermath, it’s never as satisfying as we sort through the rubles, huh? That’s why even when we are right, we gotta learn to forgive each other, rather than that easy, satisfying blow up.

Now we growin’! we are starting to rightly place our fears, and are taking control to properly react when anger stirs. We takin’ back more of that vast good land for positive use! Venice who have grown in these areas begin experiencing enough positive outcomes from their growth, that it is easy to get all puffed up, and think ourselves such exalted hot sh!t. This hard-to-spot stronghold manned by KING PRIDE is an operation obscured by deploying from behind the cover of perspective. Our I (our eye), can be so big, that we only see our own point of view — becoming egocentric. From there, it is just a few short hops, (like not being able to listen to others or only thinking about our own need), before ending up inside of everything-I-do-is-right town, a place where we are of little value to Venice… captured by this able General, deployed by KING PRIDE. This is also the tricky part of the good land, because it is so difficult to see our own I, from there we might get ambushed with thinking we are more special to God than anyone else, or have an indispensable piece that only I can deliver to the universe, or are connected to an inside track that gives special knowledge. If any ONE of us, have ALL that is right and good and true, we have no need for a TNA. We can only work together, if we can learn to overcome the instinct to only see me me me, and see we we we, through the humility of service.

We are not likely to overcome all of our land’s strongholds in one swoop, because there is just so much of that vast good land for us to grow in to. It takes patience time, for her to do her perfect work. As the TNA grows forth in Venice, we will come against, and defeat the stronghold of KING SELF-INTEREST. And we are an awesome good land, so we have tons of interest to man this fort. Our personal beauty, our personal possessions, our money, our houses, our cars, our kids, that killer smile, our opinions, our personal safety, our reputation, our self-respect… how dare they! don’t these asses know who I am! Real clear here we see, how troops from this barrack, man and reinforce the stronghold of pride, just when we thought humility had razed that high place low. Suddenly all of our identity is tied to the rise and fall of our personal self-interest, and we cut off much of the good land’s energy to occupy the pursuit to save this fort, using endless troops of worry on assignment from king fear, with our imagination in overdrive, all about how to keep the petty interests that we have accumulated. If fifteen of us join the alliance, and pursue fifteen sets of interests, we will probably get one-fifteenth of all those goals accomplished. We’ve come together to take the good land, because we want to be a part of the next greatness to happening here in Venice. By learning the balance that it takes to develop a measured equilibrium with all that we have accumulated, we will never be so tied to our small personal interest, that we lose sight of the big point of it all, which is to effect a greater good, together. The genius of the TNA is that it is a freewill association with no dues or taxing system, yet every service we seek to offer is totally free of charge. This model would be insolvent before it ever got established, if we were not in such a vast and good land, overflowing with so much excess capacity. In this the common interest grows, as members freely volunteer to the alliance, every need supplied.

The next stronghold to defeat is way out there, with a 360 view from every vantage to see any advancement and dig in a resistance: the stronghold of KING HYPER-INDEPENDENCE. The growth it takes to even have this as a foe, means that there is access to great capacity, since without that great capacity, we could not for long, think that we can do it all by ourselves. An overcomer who is gaining ground in their land — or whose soul is in the process of growth — attains a proportional personal gravitas that causes people to be drawn to that overcomer. In essence, growing leaves even more of the good land within our reach, to have and to manage. The trap at that point is to take a little clique of adoring fans, and make yourself a closed circle, and start building a kingdom unto you. But right from its start, the spirit that attracted me to the Trans-National Alliance, is its emphasis on the little guy, a branch for the people. We saw that the big corporations and the one-percenters had enough allies and outlets for their voice. We recognized that the only way for our voice to register is if we speak it together. But the price of tapping in to that invaluable synergy, is putting up with one another. And we are all here in Venice cause we grown… so who the hell can make us stay together if we don’t want to? In spite of all the great benefits we gain communally, who is willing to put up with the fiery stings that come with coexistence? It takes vision, learning to keep loving our thorny neighbors. But putting up with those stings lets us use each other as mirrors to see ourselves and measure our spiritual growth, granting our I the potent force of community, in the face off all that seeks to blindly keep us weak and separated.

The vastness of this good land can only be conquered by a people whose intellect is vast enough to contain the eternal wellspring flowing in abundance here. When life and experience has cause a person to become narrow, they bring that smallness with them to every outlook their perception conceives. With no vision (or a small vision) our mind creates a stronghold for KING IMAGINATION. Consider the imagination as an extension of the dream world, where we are master and creator and have every single power that real life does not now grant… what fun is it to live in THIS real world where life is stepping all over me, when I can remain in that mental place of my own creation where I reign supreme? In our imagination we can be in the past, in the future, in outer space, under the ocean, in the senate chambers — all while our full essence is needed right here, right now. Add to imagination pride or fear, we can make in our own mind, all types of preoccupations to lead us off a productive course. When our learning, and life experiences are all that informs imagination, keeping to our own counsel denies us access to valuable ideas that can broaden our own perspective. That’s why we have to replace the idle churning of imagination with the focused determination of a common vision. Just like an imbalanced attachment to my small personal interest leads only to me me me, a narrow focus only on the mental movie that I am directing will only shows I eye I. When we crack a blunt at the 420Box, and begin to dialogue about where we see this Venicessance that we envision is taking us, the disparate divergence of our imagination which forks into so many branches begin to converge into a common vision… Only dialogue can.do this work, but only if we learn to listen and open ourselves the value of each other’s counsel.

We advance on, to arrive at the stronghold of KING LOGIC. A mind full of reason, will justify their every action with that slippery self-centered logic. All of the sudden, faults that we would crucify another for, finds a logical reason for why it’s okay, when they are found in me. This fort becomes even more secure when it is operating in the mind of a high IQ. Logic is a product of our preconditioning, and is powered by the judge of our conscience. A lifetime of thinking for our own good may leave us unaccustomed to thinking for the common good. When logic is thinking for self, we are unable (or become unwilling), to make that faith leap into seeing why “we” should matter to “me”. It gets downright counter-intuitive and illogical (in our selfish mind), to develop the pure reasoning that informs us to take care of our own small needs, by devoting our energy to solving our bigger collective needs. And this last fort to overcome, can not be taken be force. Selfish logic can only topple and fall when we willingly go past all our reasons to be small, and still grow on to we.

The  is the sum of all who choose to contribute energy to our goals, plus that synergistic margin added only when we make up our minds to stay together. Access to this synergy has eluded us thus far, and every fit and start that falls apart, only drains more from us the will to try again. Many thanks to Bro Lyonel Joseph for his study, “Defeating the Seven Canaanite Nations”, which lists the strongholds detailed above. These were just ideas in notes, until Venice offered me a real world look at the kings and strongholds in operation in my life, and in our group dynamics. The first audience for the essayist is always the writer himself. It is easy to see the failings that others don’t measure up in, while we go on oblivious to our own condition. Knowledge of these kings should let us understand that we are all ruled (to varying degrees) by all of these forces — though we each may see one or two of them that may be a bigger defining stronghold to overcome. For me, I am dealing with (and striving to overcome) these too — paying close attention to the internal forces that pull me apart from the strength of community, and the selfish logic I use to justify remaining in that condition. When I read Wendell Berry’s “In Distrust of Movements” I quickly see that the TNA is an operation happening on the INSIDE of the members. Venice has shown that instead of creating a movement, with some stale documents and organizational hierarchy, seeking the big operational budget; it must be people’s hearts that lead them to act from a purer place of love. I look forward, in 2018, to seeing what awesome ways we fulfill our heart.

Happy New Year!


Draining Ballona Wetlands Stopped by Coastal Commission

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 12:08

By John Davis

Finally, after decades of environmental abuse, the California Coastal Commission put a stop to draining the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. The proponents of the garguantuan Playa Vista Project installed the illegal drains over a decade ago.
It appears the developer wanted to degrade the value of one of the last vestages of freshwater coastal wetlands in the State by drying them out so it could build a private flood control system. The claimed reason was the wetlands were so badly damaged, they would have to be restored. But restoration was not the true plan, it was to build a private flood control system, euphmisticlay named the Freshwater Marsh System, and it was not finished.

Now, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is recycling the same sorry lie again in its current plans. This is the case of a fireman starting a fire and then reporting it. It should not happen this way, and the public should not be duped again. What is currently being branded a wetlands restoration is not that at all, it is a creation of something new that was not there before, and it is illegal to do that according to the California Coastal Act.

The State purchased the land West of Lincoln Blvd from Playa Vista, but then allowed the massive development to continue using it for a private purpose, with no benefit to the public. It was cleverly disguised as a benefit to nature. In reality, the Playa Vista Development has been draining the wetlands upstream by pumping public ground water into the sewer and directly into Ballona Creek, disallowing recharge of the water table.
It is illegal to draw down groundwater beyond its historic average according to the State Water Code, but this appears to be exactly what the developers and elected officials have been hiding from the public. In long droughts such as the one California is now experiencing, groundwater can be used for public purposes, but not if it is flushed down the sewer by a private business to the detriment of the owners of the water, the people of the State of California.

The sad truth is elected officials, like LA Council Member Mike Bonin, who was there at the beginning in 1991, acting as Chief of Staff for then Council Member Ruth Galanter, have perpetuated this legacy of deception into real-time.

Other elected State representatives have all helped hide it too. Currently, paid employees of the State Lands Commission (SLC) and Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) are deeply involved in the cover-up. Both agencies own part of the flood control project. And, both are now trying to assist the developers in doing it again, in order to complete the unfinished private flood control system on purpose on public land.

In order to accomplish this despicable act, SLC Executive Officer Jennifer Lucchesi is remaining quiet and DFW Executive Director Charles Bonham claims that the wetlands are so degraded they need to be restored. Both are now responsible for maintaining this false claim to the public.

After a local non-profit, Grassroots Coalition, sued and beat DFW in court, the agency was forced to apply for a Coastal Development Permit to cease the drainage. To avoid the inevitable, Executive Director Charles Bonham’s staff lied on the application claiming the drains were not in a wetland. Adding insult to injury, the Developers of the Playa Vista Project submitted fraudulent methane, groundwater, and wetland delineation reports to the Commission.

The Long Beach staff of the Commission, Teresa Henry and Mandy Revelle did everything they could to assist the cover-up by claiming the Developers submitted those reports on behalf of the State, which was patently false. Staff of that office have been directly engaged in the deception since 1991. This is the power of money speaking.
However, in December, the Coastal Commissioners recognized the nefarious assertions of its own staff and ruled against what DFW Director Charles Bonham wanted. They unanimously required the offender to immediately place a cap on the drains to stop continuing damage to the resource and to prepare an Environmental Impact Report in 180 days, so the drains could be completely removed.

Kevin Taki, the attorney for DFW begged the Commission to wait until the new process to “restore” (DESTROY), the wetlands was under way and then take them out.
Commissioners then asked him how long it would take, and all he could do was trip over his own tongue, trying to provide an answer.

All Commissioners then agreed that draining the wetlands for over-twenty years was enough, and the structures had to be removed. This has rocked the plans to finish the private flood control project on public lands because the DFW failed to even acknowledge the drains were there in its current proposal.

Now, this new honest process will legally interfere in the dishonest plans the Playa Vista Developer, SLC, and DFW have worked so hard to promote for the last five years, by revealing the truth to the public. The proposed “restoration” constitutes a gift of public funds prohibited by the State Constitution and the Coastal Act disallows creation of a big hole and 40ft levees along Lincoln and Jefferson Blvd to replace existing wetlands.

DFW then tried to foist its last desperate argument, and said it would cost too much to comply with the law. None of the Coastal Commissioners bought it. The Executive Director of the Commission, John Ainsworth, finally said what was on his mind, that the DFW should sue the Playa Vista Developers to get the money to pay for removing the drains, since that private business built the illegal pipes in the first place. In this case, speaking truth to power really worked.

Grassroots Coalition Website – SaveBallona.Org


THE FIGHT FOR THE OAKWOOD CHURCH CONTINUES

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:51

By Jon Wolff

The following is from a recent conversation with Venice Activist, Naomi Nightingale about the fight to preserve the historic First Baptist Church on Westminster Avenue and 7th Avenue in the Oakwood Community in Venice.

Naomi Nightingale: The church has always been a part of Venice. It’s been here ever since I was a part of Venice. The church, which was across the street, was a smaller church of Reverend Holmes. I visited that church on a number of occasions. The church and its members were people who lived in Venice, residents. The congregation outgrew the church and moved across the street and it’s been there ever since.

Jon Wolff: The location of the present building.

NN: Right. So, it was just like stepping from one side of the house to the other side of the house.

JW: The church has been there for over a century now. The Foundation of the church has been there for that long.

NN: Right. 1912, I believe.

JW: What is going on right now?

NN: I know Reverend Horace Allen. I know him from when he started working at the church because he was involved in a lot of the community meetings that I was involved in. We worked on the Police Community Relations Committee, so I know him from there.

JW: He’s the pastor of the congregation that met in the church building?

NN: Right. Now he’s called a bishop. I don’t know how that name change occurred but I knew him as Reverend Horace Allen. He came out of Los Angeles. I think the Compton/Watts area. And he was initially requested to be the pastor of the church. There were many pastors at the church after Reverend Holmes passed away. Mrs. Holmes was the CEO of the church and she’s the one who made the decisions about who the pastor would be, along with the Board of Directors of the church.

JW: And the current situation with the church is that it was sold to new owners?

NN: As I understand it, the church has been sold. Fraudulently sold, because Horace Allen did not have ownership or legal authority to sell the church.

JW: The legal authority… That would be with the Trustees?

NN: With the Trustees. With having the deed. With having the legal authority that was granted, not only by the Trustees, but by Mrs. Holmes.

JW: And in the bylaws of the church itself.

NN: Right. And when did the transaction occur? How did it occur? Was it legal? I understood, that because they were feeding homeless people there, that Horace Allen had some of the individuals sign as if they were on the Board, that they were members of the church. And that was one way that he was able to move through some of the legal processing. But I don’t know that they ever did any title changes or looked into the titles to find out who the legal owners were. I understand that this is something that the court is looking into now. My position about the church is from its historical, social, and legacy standing in the Community. I don’t know who they want to say owns the church. The fact to me is that the church should not be torn down, demolished, or… what’s the other word?
JW: “Re-purposed” is the word they use.
NN: “Re-purposed” for residential use or a use other than that which serves the Community, which is why it’s there in the first place.
JW: Absolutely. How it got there in the first place.
NN: And so, any movement on the part of anyone to make this into a residential building or a commercial operation or to remove it and put anything else there is what I am fighting against. That’s my ultimate position: that the church needs to still be there for the purpose for which it was built in the first place. I see too much of Structure, Culture, and Legacy of the Black Community, and other people who built this Community, simply removed as if it never existed, and substituted by a two-story or three-story concrete glass-fronted building and, most of the time, sold. There’s the footprint, the imprint, the Legacy of those people, like my grandparents and other people’s grandparents, that worked hard to build this Community. They made a Legacy here to give us stories to tell about how we grew up here and the things that we went through, the schools that we went to, the events that we had. The annual activities became a part of where we are, and many of them occurred right here in this church.
JW: Do you think that some individuals would like to erase all that right now?
NN: I think they don’t care. I think they don’t have a clue. It doesn’t matter to them. And that’s the real crime. Another real crime is from Horace Allen because he knows all of that. He was here in this Community for a number of years. He served on committees. He interacted with people. He knows those things. So, for him to set them aside, and for him to sell out the Community in the way that, apparently, he has, is disgraceful.
JW: And, most likely, fraudulent.
NN: Fraudulent. That’s the reason why it’s in court right now.
JW: It looks like the people on the side of preserving the church, the good guys, have a good chance of having the sale declared fraudulent.
NN: Oh, I believe they do. My understanding is that there is no document that legally says that Horace Allen had a right to sell the building.
JW: In the meantime, there have been gatherings in front of the church every week, every Sunday, plus the big one that happened on Saturday a couple of weeks ago.
NN: December 9, yes.
JW: We had a number of speakers that day.
NN: We did. We had some great speakers that day.
JW: You spoke yourself.
NN: I did speak that day. But I speak just about every Sunday. That day, Dennis Moore spoke.
JW: And Pastor Rhone.
NN: Yes. Pastor Rhone was our keynote speaker that day. Pastor Rhone grew up in this Community, and so he had a lot to say. I remember the key part of his address was that: if the Foundation be destroyed, then what can the righteous people do? That resonated with me deeply because I think that those of us who continue to come out every Sunday are representing the righteous people. Because our effort is to ensure that the Foundation of that church still remains, that the church still stands.
JW: And, in turn, the Foundation of the Community.
NN: Absolutely.
JW: Do you think that this is part of a larger picture? Is this happening because it’s part of a larger effort to upset the History of this Community?
NN: Oh yeah, definitely. I think it goes back many years and it’s part of the City’s long reach plan. Part of the City’s 30-year plan was to get to exactly where they are, in terms of Venice being a greater tax base for the City. It stood to reason that this Community, as it was, with low and middle income people living here, a diverse Community, shouldn’t stay as it was for very long, with Santa Monica to our north and Marina del Rey to the south. Here sits this little beachfront Community. That’s a prize.
JW: But the efforts on Sunday and the efforts in the Community are gaining strength right now. What outcome do you see for this in the long run? Does it look like we have Hope to turn this around at this point?
NN: I never give up Hope. Because I’m a person of the 60s, and you just keep fighting. Even when the days look dark, that is not something that deters you, because you know that you can continue to fight and move through the darkness. I think that there’s Hope. And we’ve already started talking about what we would like to see happen in that church as a result of it remaining there, and what kinds of services would the church provide to the Community. There really isn’t a nice place to have Community events. You could have family events, family reunions, Christmas events, things like that. We don’t have a really nice place. Perhaps the church could be used for events like that.
JW: The projected use for this building is for a single family dwelling. And it’s something like 13,000 square feet. Is that right?
NN: That’s what I’ve heard. And that they would be using all four lots, which is prohibited by City Planning. How would they do that unless they got a waiver? We know that the City’s not beyond giving waivers. Neither is the Coastal Commission. Neither is the Venice Neighborhood Council. After all, the Venice Neighborhood Council voted to approve the sale of the church. So, how are they in support of the Community? I think it’s incredible, reprehensible, and absolutely… I can’t even really find the words.
JW: Anti-social maybe?
NN: I think it’s deeper than being anti-social. It’s like taking a piece of the Community that’s been a vital organ to the Community and throwing it away on the surgeon’s table. They can’t continue to just drive through the Community with their bulldozers and their million dollars and say, “You don’t matter. Your voices are put aside and the Legacy that you want to leave here in the Community is meaningless.” This is best demonstrated by the City agencies that should be looking out for us. They see the new sources and say that they need the tax base and that this is going to be a better look and an upgrade and, besides, you people don’t really need to live here, you can’t afford to live in this Community anymore. What I hear over and over again is that it’s “Supply and Demand” that’s driving it. Well, whose supply and whose demand?
JW: We’re gathering support in the Community. More and more, there are people walking by on Sunday and finding out what’s going on and picking up literature.
NN: Right. And contacting us on Facebook. The more we can get people to come and hear what’s going on and to spread the word and tell the stories, and the more we can contact people who are no longer living here in the Community but who are part of the church and who grew up here and are concerned about what’s going to happen to the church, the greater is our strength. Then, of course, with our endurance, we’ll continue to fight.
JW: What sort of leverage do you think we have with local government? Like say, Councilmember Bonin? Is he going to take notice at some point? I know he was confronted a few months ago about this. If people call his office, will he be inclined to take a position?
NN: I think he’s a political person, so he is swayed by voters and pressure. We have to keep the pressure on. We have to give him good cause and reason as to why he should be supporting us. I believe that we’ll continue to provide him with information and put pressure on him. And we’re also going to include talking to Sheila Kuehl.
JW: Get the County involved in this.
NN: Absolutely.
JW: There’s a good chance we’ll get what we want with this then.
NN: I have to believe that we’re going to get what we want. I can not believe anything else at this point. I know that we’re making some headway because we’re getting all kinds of accusations levied against us by those who support the sale and purchase of the church. So, we must be getting on someone’s nerves.
JW: They’re starting to kick because we’re making a difference.
NN: We’re making a difference and they’re getting a little nervous about what kind of inroads we might be making.
JW: I get the feeling that they, and the VNC, think that they were going to do what they wanted to do more quickly than they have and, because the Community’s fought back on so many issues, they’re starting to realize that they may have bit off more than they can chew.

NN: I think that the absence of voices at the Venice Neighborhood Council, for a term, has falsely encouraged them to think that no one cared, or that they weren’t going to have the kind of pushback or power, influence of action, that they are now experiencing. I served on the Venice Neighborhood Council for two terms, and that Board, that Council, has made a 180 degree turn. To me, they’re all focused on self. It’s about the money for them. And that the Venice Neighborhood Council was just an avenue for them to embellish their own private practices and network opportunities with the City and other entities, to help them gain what they needed to gain profit-wise. I don’t see anyone on that Neighborhood Council right now, that I could say, was absolutely for the People.

JW: And there are currently zero African-American members of the VNC.

NN: Absolutely true.

JW: Less than zero.

NN: And we’re looking to see if we can change that.

JW: So, the future is in our hands perhaps.

NN: Yeah. As far as the Venice Neighborhood Council is concerned.

JW: As far as Venice.

NN: As far as Venice is, absolutely. We’re here. We’re part of the current. We’ve been part of the past. And we will definitely be part of the future.

JW: Amen to that.

NN: Amen to that.

For more info on this: http://www.savevenice.me


Also, contact Councilman Bonin at: councilmember.bonin@lacity.org
and Supervisor Kuehl at: sheila@bos.lacounty.gov


March for Humanity on MLK’s Birthday!

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:20
MONDAY, JANUARY 15 @ 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM – Western and MLK Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles.

Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition of Greater LA in partnership with the Poor People’s campaign will be marching for Human Rights Issues in the Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade.  Healthy California Campaign coalition have been asked to join them as they march the route. Let’s show our solidarity and join the Kingdom Day 33rd Annual Parade spreading the message of Healthcare for All & SB562 the HealthyCA Act.

Parade Start Point: Western and MLK Jr. Blvd. Los Angeles. Meet up point to be determined.  Please RSVP  to the FB event page so we know how many participants will attend.

Show your determination to resist police brutality, war, anti-Black, anti-Brown, anti-Muslim, anti-Indigenous and anti-Immigrant hatred, attacks on women, the LGBT communities, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, working people, youth and the environment!

Mark one full year of mass resistance to the Trump regime’s efforts to roll back civil and human rights across the board in the interests of racism and corporate power!
Join with the Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and other civil and human rights advocates in expressing our on-going commitment to establishing and maintaining full social, economic and political justice for all!

Help us to alert our communities, at large, to the coming of the New Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival Movement this spring! More details will be posted soon!
— MLK Coalition Coordinating Committee.

Endorsing organizations to date:

MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Global Women’s Strike, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace LA, Topanga Peace Alliance, San Fernando Valley Peace Alliance, LA Laborfest, SoCal350, Common Peace, Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence, CODEPINK, Peace and Freedom Party Los Angeles.

The MLK Coalition’s Justice Agenda for 2018 includes the following:

1. End Excessive Use of Police Force: Prosecute Killer Cops (Black Lives Matter!)

2. End Mass Incarceration and Criminalization of Communities of Color: We Want Education, Not Mass Incarceration!

3. Healthcare Access for ALL: We Support Medicare, Medicaid, Single Payer Healthcare and Expanded Public Health Services!

4. Decent and Affordable Housing for ALL: Expand Rent Controls; End Gentrification, Displacement & Homelessness in Our Communities!

5. Defend the Civil and Human Rights Gains of Communities of Color, Women, and LGBTQ People. Defend the Sovereignty, Cultural and Treaty Rights of Native Americans. Massive and Immediate Aid and Reconstruction Assistance to the Island of Puerto Rico. Adopt a Just Immigration Policy — End ICE Raids and Deportations of Immigrants!

6. New Jobs, New energy and A New Economy: Fight Global Warming and Climate Distortions, End Fossil Fuel Dependence, Support A Massive Public Investment in Energy Conversion and Jobs for a Green Economy!

7. Tax the Corporations: Reverse the Republican Tax Grab!

8. Raise the Minimum Wage in the Marketplace, Establish A National Minimum Family Income Policy: Defend Workers’ Rights In the Workplace and in the Community — Recognize the Value of Domestic Care, Child-Rearing, Labor in the Home as well as Labor in the Marketplace.

9. Abolish war and militarism, in all its manifestations, both at home and abroad.
If your organization would like to participate or endorse this event please post directly on this event page or send a private message to Kathleen Hernandez on Facebook.


Moe Stavnezer – Presenté

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 11:01

 

Moe Stavnezer was a tireless fighter for a Venice which is now gone but not yet forgotten.

It was a Venice which was a counter cultural mecca, a community of small individual two story or 24 foot high homes and duplexes, of homeowners with small incomes, working stiffs, professionals and students who voted Democrat or Progressive, or Peace and Freedom , of a community which was tolerant and supportive of dissent and outright opposition to moneymaking, greed, exploitation and racial and gender chauvinism. He wanted to see a Venice embedded in the City of Los Angeles, not an independent municipality of Venice (he had no faith that such a model could long survive in a hostile political environment where property rights trumped what he saw as ‘human rights’), but one with very significant autonomy, particularly in the crucial areas of physical development — de-emphasize new commercial construction, emphasize existing rent control on existing housing,and construction of new affordable housing.

Moe was instrumental, along with Lance Diskan, Jim Bickhart and myself in creating the North Beach Planning Task Force (about 1972), an alliance of small holders and Venice activists who were associated with the Beachhead, the Venice Town Council, and an
amorphous group called ‘Free Venice (Steve Claire, Bob Wells, Rick Davidson, Barbara Avedon, and others) who focused on trying to stop the re-development and gentrification of the North Beach area of Venice by actively working within the public planning process of the City of Los Angeles to set and hold to standards which restricted such redevelopment and also extensively and incessantly used the Coastal Act of 1976 and appeals to the Coastal Commission to stop the juggernaught of over-development. This North Beach Planning Task force was very successful and soon became the chief vehicle which the Venice Town Council (pre-cursor of the Venice Neighborhood Council) used to hold off gentrification and over-development all over Venice.

This Venice political alliance was very successful between 1976 and 1990 in ‘keeping Venice Venice’ and for about 15 years we all worked shoulder to shoulder to make this happen. In the end however this effort proved unable to hold back the tide and energetic vitality of real estate speculation (the lure of ‘filthy lucre’) particularly in the coastal zone of the westside.

Moe of course was also a big time environmentalist and well known among environmental activists in Southern California, and a big time supporter of rent control (I was not one of those people) but I will leave it to others to paint that picture of Moe and flesh it out. Moe is now gone, but he will not be forgotten. When Jim Smith finishes his work on Venice (focused on ‘gentrification’ I hear), Moe will certainly occupy an important place.

Arnold Springer Venice

MOE STAVNEZER, YOUR SPIRIT IS FREE

by Olga Palo

Moe Stavnezer, Venice resident, dedicated community activist and former Beachhead collective member during the 70s-80s died on December 28, 2017.

Moe came to Venice around 1970. As an energetic community activist, he contributed to the local Venice anti-development, affordable housing activism of those decades. In fact, his true dedication was to preserve Venice as a California coastal community that afforded poor and working class people accessibility to coastal living. In support of that vision, he also organized local support for the passage of the California Coastal Act which established the California Coastal Commission. He also worked for rental control in Santa Monica.

He was the pharmacist at Val’s Pharmacy on the Windward Circle for at least a decade.
As an avid writer, his articles appeared regularly on the pages of the Beachhead, informing readers of the activities of the many people who, at that time, tried to stem the impending tidal wave threatening to drown the funky kaleidoscope of humanity which was Venice. Moe’s perspective was always an endorsement of diversity, environmental preservation, affordability.

“Venice, your spirit is free” Moe would recognize that graffiti sentiment from an era of people’s struggle in Venice. Now Moe, your spirit is free.

Moe Stavnezer – 1949-2018

Activist, former Beachhead Collective member, and VCH founder, has passed on.
He was Treasurer of Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. Below we quote from their website.

“Moe Stavnezer’s activism in California began as a member of the Venice Town Council and with the passage of Proposition 20 (The Coastal Act) in 1972. He appeared before the Coastal Commission numerous times as an advocate for affordable housing, coastal access, community preservation, and the protection of natural resources. For that work, in 1978, Moe was honored with an “Award of Merit” by the State of California. He was also a founder and board member of two statewide coastal organizations, PACE (People, Access, Coastal Environment) and the League for Coastal Protection that advocated for a variety of issues before the Coastal Commission and in the courts, most especially regarding the Ballona Wetlands.

In the 1980’s, Moe was a founder and board member of Heal the Bay, where he served as Vice President, and the Venice Community Housing Corporation, where he served as President. He also served on various boards of the Liberty Hill Foundation, including the Environmental Justice Board and the Board of Directors. Moe was also a founder of the Santa Monica Fair Housing Alliance, and Santa Monicans for Renters Rights which advocated for and won rent control in that city. In 1987, he was a member of the steering committee in the successful campaign to elect Ruth Galanter to the L.A. City Council. Moe has served on the LALCV board for over 20 years, including five years as President and currently as Treasurer.

Moe graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1963 where he earned a Bachelors degree in Pharmacy and still works as a Pharmacist. He earned a Masters degree in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles in 1972. In 1992, Moe was selected to participate in the UCLA Community Scholars program where he co-authored a paper on manufacturing products from recycled materials.”

 


Turn To Light

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 08:38

Turn to light
the glorious togetherness
of happy community.

In the heart of the sun
yotta angels sing songs
of physics.

Rise to greet them
their light would reach our soul,
lift us again.

At edges dark comes
destroyer and creator dance,
they are one.

Life Strings reach
light to dark, nothingness to eternity
we are that song.

We fall back onto earth
of which we are made,
manna of creation.

– era


Fire ash can be extremely toxic

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 15:27

The first morning after the wildfires started appearing a week ago, I could smell the smoke from my front porch, and there was a reddish ash collecting in the corners of the stairs. This is fire ash and it can be composed of partially combusted every damn thing in a house or other structure.   So walking your dog, playing in the park, and perhaps even breathing becomes risky to your health.  Buzz Kill?

Wired: smoke-from-wildfires-is-a-growing-public-health-crisis-for-cities

State Advice: Safe Cleanup of Fire Ash

https://www.arb.ca.gov/carpa/toolkit/emerg-response/safe-cleanup-fire-ash.pdf

Excerpt:

The recent fires have deposited large amounts of ash on indoor and outdoor surfaces in areas near the
fire. Questions have been raised about possible dangers from contact with the ash and safe disposal
procedures. The ash deposited by forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be
found in your fireplace. However, any ash will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals.
In addition, fire ash may be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin. If the ash is
breathed, it can be irritating to the nose and throat and may cause coughing. Exposure to ash in air
might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma. Therefore, in order to avoid
possible health problems the following is recommended.
• Do not allow children to play in the ash.
• Wash ash off children’s toys before children play with them.
• Clean ash off house pets.
• Wear gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants and avoid skin contact.
• If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
• If you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees, wash the fruit or vegetables thoroughly before
eating them.
• Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible. Do not use leaf blowers or take other
actions that will put ash into the air.
• Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but rather
blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be breathed. The use of shop
vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums
could be used, if available.
• Well fitting dust masks may provide some protection during cleanup. A mask rated N-95 or
P-100 will be more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from
ash. In general, many ash particles are larger than those found in smoke; thus, wearing a
dust mask can significantly reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of particles
inhaled.
• Persons with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a mask during
post-fire cleanup.
• Gentle sweeping of indoor and outdoor hard surfaces followed by wet mopping is the best
procedure in most cases. A damp cloth or wet mop may be all that is needed on lightly
dusted areas.
• The Regional Water Control Quality Board has asked the public to avoid washing ash into
storm drains whenever possible.
• If ash is wet down, use as little water as possible.
• Collected ash may be disposed of in the regular trash. Ash may be stored in plastic bags or
other containers that will prevent it from being disturbed.
Ash and debris inside burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash
because of the many synthetic and other materials present in buildings. Older buildings in particular
may contain asbestos and lead. A more cautious approach should be taken in the removal of ash and
other debris from inside burned structures. A NIOSH Interim fact sheet addressing burned structure
clean up safety is attached.

 


SPY Holiday Report

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 13:24

By Lisa Robins

I spoke with Alison Hurst, the founder of Safe Place for Youth, just before Thanksgiving.

Safe Place for Youth (SPY), is a drop in center in Venice which provides access to critical resources for young people ages 12-25 (transition age youth or TAY) experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Spy’s street outreach, case management, education and employment, and health & wellness services, help their members meet basic needs; improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing; and develop meaningful relationships with peers, staff, and volunteers. http://www.safeplaceforyouth.org

I’ve always wondered how those down on their luck felt when they were showered with goods and services during the holidays, and then were seemingly forgotten once those with means had their “giving fix”. I asked Alison, “Do you sometimes feel the big holiday meal people give to make themselves feel good backfires?” Alison responded, “Any bit of warmth and compassion to those experiencing homelessness is good…but think- why do you have this urge now?” She tells me that SPY is inundated with offers in November and December, but could use the support now and every other day of the year.

When I asked where the kids SPY serves go for the holidays, Alison replied, “Nowhere. We do our best …holiday parties…faith based communities give meals, but at the end of the day they’re still homeless.”

Alison reminds me that most of the kids SPY serves are “homeless through no fault of their own”. They have been let down by the system at large: be it family; foster care; juvenile detention; etc.…and are finding refuge on the street. Their trauma gives them a different lens on life. There are complex needs, and many misconceptions floating around.
It keeps crossing my mind that “the homeless” are not a homogeneous group. I asked Alison what percentage of the kids are: aged out of foster care; abused; addicted; mentally ill; “bumming around”/drifters/travelers. But as we talked I realized my categories were out of touch with reality.

Each and every homeless person is unique. They may have a dominant need- i.e. mental health, drug rehab, etc.…however, the crossover is vast. One person can enter the system via abandonment by their family through neglect, abuse, or just aging out (large families with little to no resources- who simply cannot afford everyone- oldest kid has to go). Some become an addict on the streets, the stress triggers mental health problems, and on and on. Alison urges me not to categorize, “It’s fluid- the kids move in and out of groups”.
“The Adverse Childhood Experiment (ACE) Study found the higher the ACE Score, the greater the risk of experiencing poor physical and mental health, and negative social consequences later in life.” http://www.acestudy.org/the-ace-score.html

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

While it’s true that there’s no homogeneous profile of a homeless TAY (transitional age youth), the vast majority present some degree of mental health issues (although Alison notes that it’s tricky to report). The stress of living on the street (including lack of sleep and being preyed on) creates exhaustion, depression and anxiety. Often the process of obtaining help-navigating the system, can seem like an insurmountable mountain. As a person who has tried to get through to a case worker for MediCal, or EDD, I’ve experienced firsthand the debilitating frustration and degradation that comes with waiting endlessly for a person on the phone to help, only to be told by a machine that there are too many people currently being served, or a form that was turned in too late to qualify for that week. It’s depressing enough to fill out these forms, but to attempt to do it without a roof over my head or food in my stomach is unimaginable.

Additionally, the homeless youth’s brain is still developing. The emotional part of their brain, the amygdala, still rules. Their pre-frontal cortex, the rational part-which produces good judgement and an understanding of long-term consequences, isn’t generally fully developed until age 25 or so. If there’s any predisposition for schizophrenia the psychic break generally occurs during college age years from stress and/or 1st use of drugs. A bulletin from the National Institute of Mental Health states “The initial prodrome (from the Greek word prodromos meaning the forerunner of an event) in psychosis is potentially important for early intervention, identification of biological markers, and understanding the process of becoming psychotic.” http://mentalhealth.com. While this early diagnosis can’t always save one from the ravages of schizophrenia, at least the young person might have a chance with early treatment. The Disabled World Website states, “The effects of homelessness on teens can be devastating and lead to violence, prostitution, drug abuse, severe depression and juvenile detention. Because many teens who live on the street do not receive adequate medical care in a prompt manner, many health problems go undiagnosed or untreated, causing pain and sometimes a crippling illness which often times leaves them incapacitated or even dead. Often homeless youth join gangs as they offer kinship and a close-knit community and protection. Dealing with the stress of being on the street in addition to the ordinary issues teens face every day, can lead to violent outbursts and suicide.” https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/homeless-youth. Complicating the matter are “bad eggs” (of any age), who seem to feel that being down on their luck entitles them to steal or take advantage of those better off. This behavior can greatly sour the compassion and understanding of many in our community, despite the hardships that no doubt led to the behavior.

I asked if Alison believes the kids need to be sober to deserve services. “Years of research show housing first; services first: then sobriety.” Housing first is the new standard for providing services to all age groups

Are the city services adequate? I asked, already suspecting the answer.

In a word, no. Alison says that “recent data has been released which is shocking: 58,000 unhoused, 6,000 homeless youth…the perception of who our unhoused folks are and what they want from life is myth busting”.

The Voices of Youth Count national survey, from the University of Chicago, sought to identify how common, or prevalent, youth homelessness is in America. “At least one in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17, endures some form of homelessness. The prevalence climbs even higher when looking at homelessness among young adults (ages 18-25). 5.2% for explicit homelessness, 4.5% for couch surfing only, and 9.7% overall. The estimated count reveals more than 3.5 million, or 1 in 10, young adults experienced homelessness in a year… particular subpopulations are at higher risk for homelessness, including black and Hispanic youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth (LGBT); youth who do not complete high school; and youth who are parents.” http://voicesofyouthcount.org

But “Kids are resilient. Housing, employment, caring adults can help,” the eternally optimistic leader of SPY counters. Optimistic because, “I see every day the miracle that a caring connection can do for a young person”. Government agencies, businesses, faith based organizations and the community in our area are stepping up.

November was “National Youth homeless awareness month”, highlighted in SPY’s and other organization’s social media.

The immediate goal is health/food/shelter. Measure H, which provides funding for services, will make a huge impact, but not enough, there are not enough resources.

Alison and I discussed long and short term solutions for homeless people of all ages, especially youth.

Affordable housing- There’s a severe lack of affordable housing, even for those working multiple jobs. One might think, “Why shouldn’t they live elsewhere where the rent is cheaper?” Alison says, “That breeds a segregated society where the workers – in restaurants, supermarkets, etc.…all live elsewhere.” Affordable housing proposals currently span across LA City and County. Alison is 100% in favor of the Venice-Dell-Pacific proposal. It’s “preserving diversity of the community…beautiful building, wonderful architect, Venice Community Housing knows what they’re doing. The alternative is everything gets gentrified and we all get pushed out.”

Host Homes- take young people into homes to help them stabilize.

Dorm/youth hostel type accommodations: private sleeping nooks with shared kitchen, bathrooms and indoor and outdoor living areas.

Communal living style is appropriate for TAY, confirms Alison.
Tiny Homes
Shelters –emergency housing
Bridge housing- temporary housing
Vouchers for rapid rehousing -However, many are languishing on the street even if they’re eligible for vouchers due to a lack of affordable housing and landlords willing to accept Section 8 vouchers.)

Other potential short term solutions could include campsites with facilities, motels converted into lodging for homeless, empty hospitals opened for homeless youth, and easing restrictions on car and motor home sleeping. Some of these solutions may feel like an infringement on the rights of the housed, and great effort must be taken to respect all parties.
Reunification -Spy has “reunified tons of youth very successfully”

SPY works together with many other organizations to achieve their mutual goals.

The Westside Coalition’s website defines itself as “An alliance of 46 organizations, public agencies and faith communities committed to working collaboratively on issues of housing, hunger and health through service coordination, public education and advocacy…. Although individual agencies have the ability to provide separate services for people in need, the efforts of the Westside Coalition help coordinate all services on the Westside in order to provide a true continuum of service care for the community.” http://www.westsideshelter.org. They host monthly meetings working together for broader, deeper, more coordinated services.

SPY refers to Harvest Home, whose mission is to “transform the lives of homeless pregnant women and their children by providing housing, support, and programs that equip women to become great mothers.” http://www.theharvesthome.net

SPY works with The Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee’s year old Reunification Program, which has housed 20 people so far this year,
What we as a community can do for the homeless kids of Venice? It’s impossible for anyone- government, neighborhood or kids, to solve everything. Alison reminds me, “It’s going to take everyone in the community to come together to be part of the solution to make a difference.”

At a recent Venice Neighborhood Council Homeless Committee meeting addressing Councilmember Bonin’s plan for portable facilities, my perception was that the committee was trying to walk the fine line between caring for our homeless brothers and sisters, and the needs of our housed residents. There was talk of better communication to direct those in need with appropriate services. I look forward to following up with more details from the VNC Homeless committee regarding their thoughts on the homeless youth of Venice.

Judging from some of the neighborhood chatter on at the VNC meeting or websites such as Nextdoor, a portion of our community would just like the problem to disappear along with the homeless people. Don’t let them charge their phones, go to the bathroom at night, just disappear. Others express dismay in a system which seems to shuffle people from one institution to another: enriching those employed by the system, but not really making a dent in the problem. And then there are residents who have great empathy and ideas…
Alison urges a “Buy in from whole community- this is our responsibility”.

This holiday season I invite every Beachhead reader to search our souls how we, as members of the Venice community, can make a difference in the lives of these kids currently living on the street. And make a commitment to follow through throughout the year.

Some ways to contribute include:
1) Volunteer –not just during the holidays, but all year long. Sponsor neighborhood or community lunches. Find a way to share your expertise.
2) Donate goods- clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries are all greatly appreciated.
3) Donate money- For those with lots of money and no time, a financial contribution helps enormously.
3) Affordable housing- Attend meetings-Understand the approval process and help correct misconceptions.
4) Advocate for those who can’t.
5) Educate yourself and then educate others about the root causes of homelessness.
Some of the ways I’m currently looking to help are by educating myself about homeless issues in LA and writing these articles to spread the word. I’m volunteering with our congregation’s social action committee. Hopefully we’ll join the Westside coalition to work together with other like-minded organizations. I’ll attend VNC meetings when I can. I’ll host SPY community lunches and look forward to sharing my talents via play-making and improv with its members. Most importantly, I look our homeless youth straight in the eye, and whenever I can encourage them to partake in the services SPY offers


Ocean Front Walk Artists Speak Out Against Snapchat

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 12:48

Earlier this year on Nextdoor.com, someone created a subject for discussion about Venice and the artists that set up every day on Ocean Front Walk. It was titled “New Rules for Venice” and asked, “If you could change anything about Venice what would it be?” The author then answered her own question stating, “I’ll start: Vending on the boardwalk may be a draw for tourists, however, vending seven days a week diminishes the quality of life for local residents. Allowing vending seven days a week encourages homeless individuals to congregate daily along the boardwalk including setting up defacto camping spots. If vending were not permitted on a daily basis, these individuals would have to find an alternate place to hang out.”

There is obviously a lot wrong with that theory and that line of thinking – too much to even write out in this article. And it’s no surprise that the author of that has only been a resident for 5 years. She was then rebutted multiple times by a resident of 31 years who basically told her how wrong she was for many reasons – biggest reason being that the vendors shouldn’t be crucified because of her dislike for the homeless. Given the timing of Snapchat’s arrival in Venice and the current hatred the community has towards them, a valid thought is whether or not this resident of 5 years is a Snapchat employee. Although the answer to that question is not known, this is the mindset that many newcomers of the community have, and an undeniable culprit in that type of thinking is the presence of Snapchat and the Snap-Effect they have created since they began turning our community into their self-called “Corporate Campus”.

I’m sure most would agree that the artists, vendors and street performers along Ocean Front Walk are a big part of what makes Venice different than most beaches. In addition to retaining the artistic history of the area for multiple decades, they are the heart and soul of what Venice is today. Removing or limiting their presence would make Venice one step closer to being like every other beach in the world, one step closer to Ocean Front Walk being a home for a Disney Store or a Starbucks, and one step closer to ruining the vibe and attraction that Venice has been so well-known for.

Since the protests against Snapchat earlier this year, many artists along Ocean Front Walk have joined the rally against Snap Inc. and have used their art as a way to express how most of the community feels – with paintings, poetry, signs and banners. The artists and vendors on Ocean Front Walk see what’s going on with Snapchat every day. They see it all, they hear it all, and many have more intel on Snapchat’s everyday business than most Snapchat employees themselves. In addition, one advantage they have, as opposed to the storefronts on the westside of the walkway, is they have nothing to lose – Snapchat can’t do anything to them. They can’t buy their land, can’t buy their building, and can’t push them out. Multiple store owners this year have been hesitant to speak out against Snapchat in fear that they will be pushed out much like many other businesses have – the stores at The Freak Show building and Gingerbread Court in particular. Don Salmon used to have his Rastawear store at Gingerbread Court, but continuously said that Snapchat made his life a living hell after he spoke out against them in an article in LA Times. He had enough of it and eventually moved downtown. The artists and vendors that setup every day along the beach however…Snapchat can’t do anything to them, and they show their hatred for this company through their artwork. They, more than anyone, represent what Venice stands for.

Longtime artist Ra said Snapchat employees “never even stop” and revealed one story where a badged employee looked through his paintings, told him he’d be back the next day, and when he came back the next day and looked through his paintings again he rushed through them really fast while muttering “I’m not supposed to be here right now” and ultimately didn’t buy anything at all even after Ra allowed him to take photos. “It was like someone told him not to associate with us”, said Ra. Todd Ray, owner of the recently departed Freak Show, said that Snap employees wouldn’t even look at him when he tried to coerce them into conversation and invite them to see his collection of oddities. Local eateries still complain that Snap employees barely go to their spots because they can get free food from their private commissaries. It’s a chain reaction that ultimately kills the neighborhood.

Daniel, another vendor on OFW, also mentioned they don’t buy anything. “They’re into tech, not what I have to sell. I know them to be nice people overall,

bu

 

t they’re caught in a crossfire. It’s not their fault; it’s their CEO’s fault. I’m sure they want to be loved and not go to work every day and be unhappy, but if you take over a community the way they are, people won’t take that lightly”.
The parking lot Daniel works in is at 601 Ocean Front Walk – this lot was also rumored to be the potential headquarters of Snap Inc. and was in litigation for years until this past September when the developers finally dropped their lawsuit against the city to reverse the West LA Planning Commission’s denial of the project. This parking lot is next to the Blue House at 523 OFW, Snapchat’s first office in Venice. Snap, Inc. still uses the Blue House for random meetings and events, and all the nearby artists and vendors hear and see everything that Snapchat employees do there and outside all of their properties. They see Snapchat employees go out to the beach for brief meetings or go out to the walkway to make personal calls given the lack of privacy in their own offices. They knew about the Spectacles Store opening back in March before most people, and constantly hear news about their drones, cameras, and television shows.

The most visible of the anti-Snapchat artwork along the walkway is across from the parking lot. An anonymous source brought a big long yellow banner with a white ghost on it to a group of artists who then painted it in a way that’s hard to miss – it says, “Fuck Snapchat, Unfuck Venice”. The artists said they haven’t received one negative comment about it and the reaction towards it has been only positive, with many people asking what it is and why they are against Snapchat.

Brad Eckhart, a henna artist near Rose, sets up an easel every day displaying the map of Snapchat properties in Venice along with a sign that reads, “Our neighborhood is not a tech park!! #GETOUT”. He says “Many people think it’s about gentrification in general and that’s not what it’s about. Or they wonder why we’re against the app itself with no idea what this one company is doing to our community, so if they take the time to stop I will educate them. If they do just walk by, it’s fine because then they see more of it elsewhere and really start to ask questions and wonder what’s going on. No one even knows they’re here, except for us because we hate them, and I have to educate them. Snapchat thinks they’re cool because they’re here, but they’re NOT cool because no one even knows they’re here. People that use Snapchat don’t know they’re here. There are no signs on any of their buildings. They’re leasing most of their offices, so they’re just pissing away money just to say they’re here and it doesn’t matter to anyone except the community that hates them”. Another local then added, “They can’t be selling enough Spectacles to warrant having that space. It’s almost like they’re losing money on purpose and not caring at all about killing the community or the vibe of Venice.”

Another local stated, “It’s great that the artists are speaking out. It’s gets people asking questions and talking about it. And then they see that hideous Spectacles Store and realize the artists are probably right! Every artist along the walkway should have something that’s anti-Snapchat. It’s too big of an issue in this community not to, and once people learn about what’s going on they sympathize and talk to their friends about it.” Local activist group, The Venice Dogz, has been rumored to be putting together a contest for all the artists and vendors on Ocean Front Walk for the Best Anti-Snapchat Artwork to be had sometime next year in 2018. It will be quite a scene if that happens.


THE FIGHT FOR THE OAKWOOD CHURCH

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 12:36

Every Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM, you can see a crowd of Venice People gathering in front of the First Baptist Church on the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Westminster Avenue in Oakwood in the heart of Venice. They gather there to protest the shameful and illegal sale of this historic church building. There are banners, signs, and photos of the History of the church and the Community of Oakwood. There are neighbors, young and old. There are speeches and prayers and colorful chalk designs on the sidewalk. Each Sunday, the crowd grows and the word spreads. And the Venice People mean to fight for and win back this church.

The fight isn’t just for the church building. There’s more to it than that. This church has stood for over a century in Oakwood as a spiritual and cultural cornerstone of the Community. Built by the families of the People of Oakwood, it represents more than just a physical structure. It’s a symbol of the struggles and perseverance of the original Venice Community. Perhaps that’s the reason why the current members of the Venice Neighborhood Council would be so eager to let it go.

At the October meeting of the VNC, there was smiling and congratulating and backslapping by the VNC members a

 

nd the buyers and their brokers and lawyers. The buyers said nothing about the History of the church. They did say that they would keep a couple of the stained-glass windows in place. And they mentioned, in passing, that the church had some “sentimental value” to some people.

Sentimental value? Does the History of Oakwood and Venice mean anything to these buyers or to the architects and businessmen on the Venice Neighborhood Council? You bet it does. It means the Continuity, Vitality, and Victory of the original Venice Community. It’s just these elements that make the First Baptist Church on 7th and Westminster such a prize for them. The building itself is the physical manifestation, but it’s the History of Venice that they must erase in order to drive out the last Venetians. It’s this History that they omit from the books so that they can rewrite it to justify their illegal occupation.

Over the next few months, you will see stories about the fight for this church in the local realtor-sponsored press. You will find the usual vocabulary of defeatism, with words like “Gentrification” and “Progress”. But don’t be easily clouded by the propaganda. Read the lawsuit. Yes, there’s a lawsuit. Read it at http://savevenice.me/campaigns/save-historical-black-church-venice-ca/ .
The lawsuit was brought by the Trustees of the church. It reveals how the sale was made without the proper authority as prescribed by the church’s bylaws. It tells how the sale was made behind closed doors. It shows how the money was dealt and who dealt it.

And the lawsuit was filed two years ago. So why did the VNC and the VNC’s Land Use and Planning Committee approve the sale? Because they expect you to not care. They expect you to not do anything. They’re hoping to wait this out until the People forget and go away. But clearly, the People of Oakwood in Venice aren’t going away.
The gatherings on Sunday are gaining momentum. More and more neighbors are coming and talking. The History of the church is appearing in print and online. Even the L.A. City politicians are on notice.

At a recent demonstration on Windward Avenue, L.A City Councilman Mike Bonin was confronted and informed by Venice activists about the fight for the church. He claimed ignorance of the scandal; but now he knows. Certainly, at this time, he would like more support from voters in his district. What better way for him to get the residents of Venice on his side than to take a stand on the matter of the illegal sale of the historic church on 7th and Westminster. He would love to hear from you. He can be reached at (213) 473-7011 or councilmember.bonin@lacity.org . Or you can try Juliet Oh of City Planning at juliet.oh@lacity.org .

And meanwhile, the gatherings in front of the First Baptist Church will continue. You are welcome to come on Sundays and participate. You can find out more about the fight and learn more about the History of Oakwood and Venice. Hear the History as told by the elder Venetians to the Venetian children whose ancestors dug the canals and built the buildings of Venice. Hear the History and join the fight. Or be forgotten.


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