Thanks for your generous donations!

November 1, 2011

 

  • Electric Lodge
  • Ed Ferrer
  • Mary Getlein
  • Great Western Steak & Hoagie Company
  • Arleen Hendler
  • Sydney Lovelace/L.A. Surf and Swim
  • Nutritional Warehouse
  • Rebekah/Michael Ozier
  • James Schley

Letters

November 1, 2011
  • Nether Regions of The Beachhead – DeDe Audet
  • Homeless Emergency Task Force – Lisa Green

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Nether Regions of The Beachhead

Dear Beachhead,

I think you will be pleased to know I found Google googling The Beachhead.  In searching for material on “Delta smelt U.S. Fish and Wildlife findings” I was directed to http://freevenicebeachhead.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/water-crisis-the-delta-and-us/ where I found my own article from the March issue.  I am enjoying the experience of being referred to myself.  But there is a downside.  I was looking for new material.

DeDe Audet

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Homeless Emergency Task Force

Dear Beachhead,

Here are some of my comments based on the proceedings of the Homeless Emergency Task Force Mtg held Thurs, Oct 26. 10 participants.

First and foremost, I believe establishing a forum for dialog is key to resolving our challenges in the community. I am glad to be part of bringing more awareness to all affinity groups.…

Winter Shelter

Informal survey taken myself before attending mtg. on Thurs evening as people waited for bus.  In line stood about 30 people and the line continued to grow. Many offered their input. Their shelter experience is currently a positive experience – clean bed, healthy food, LAHSA mgmt team polite and respectful. Noted though that only a couple of women were in line waiting for the bus. Also no one under 30 was present……did hear need for beds outweighed number of beds available.

Task Force to seek further funding options, public and private, provide more beds until the full Winter shelter program is open at the beginning of December. Also offer changes to layout to encourage more participation from women and youths such as more clearly defined separate quarters.

Also some participants of the task force suggested visiting the shelter to learn first hand. Linda Lucks to provide more details

LAMC 42.15

Some members of the Task Force suggested supporting the passage of the proposed revision to LAMC 42.15. Linda Lucks to send out details. Others suggested letter writing campain to local papers too.

Other related topics

Some of the participants on the Task Force expressed concern about food distribution on the boardwalk. Some spoke about the impact to tenants that owned eating establishments and impact to tourism.

Part of my role was to remind the group of our collective basic human rights. Others did the same. As well, I am reminded of more than one story of tourists that have approached me during times when food is distributed acknowledging their curiosity and goodwill towards others. Additionally I am told of many instances of tourists approaching food distribution stations to offer monetary contributions along with words of encouragement. Even Anthony Hopkins is seen regularly leaving donations.

Another concern was that people that could afford to pay for food at eating establishments were assumed to be participating in the food giveways as recipients. My informal survey did not substantiate that claim at this point. I suspect those making that claim may feel undue pressure at work to maintain their employment status or business operating. Their fears about losing profit are real concerns but food giveaways to feed people that are hungry who cannot typically afford this basic human right should not be use as the main cause. Our current economic situation in the country and abroad is declining. I suggest those members engage in political causes to change current  policies that remove corporate loopholes for large multinational corporations so that small business owners have a fair chance at existence as opposed to targeting an already at risk group.  Venice as well reminded by the current President of the Neighborhood Council has always been a place were those that have and those that have little co-exist.

I was asked how many people that are defined by our society as homeless are dealing with mental illness? My estimate was 25%. One problem I see everyday is that the needs of those individuals with mental illness are being blantantly ignored through society, because we as a collective are allowing this to members of our society.

As well I was asked how many people did I believe refuse any services at all. Frankly as I mentioned to the group I am appalled at the term service resistant.  To my knowledge everyone I have spoken to is or has a desire to belong to connect to participate in society.  Some of the participants of the task force were frustrated with my accessment but I did state I did not have a percentage to note off the top of head but I would inquire. To me you have to look at your approach as well. Are you coming across as condensing or dictating or accusatory when inquiring of others? When I engage in dialog I initially see resistance from some people but as I listen to the reasons to learn about their situation then I often find out most are actively involving in some form of service.

Yes, there are services but the effectiveness of the services is rarely evaluated, and those organizations that profit on the misfortune are over not addressed which causes further isolation of the individual.

Most people living their daily life have no clue what someone on the street endures. For instance:

Young adults/kids that were in foster care until they get released with nowhere to go….

A woman who is escaping an abusive relationship that cannot turn to friends or family for fear of being hurt or those held close being retaliated on…

Mom and/or dad trying to make it but the rising costs overwhelm them to the point where they lose their home….

The veteran who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. the list goes on and on.

The individual who is suffering with mental illness and finds their quirks unwelcoming in a society that is very self focused…

Often women living on the streets are sexually assaulted by not only others living on the streets but sexual predators that are traditionally housed…in fact I am aware of a handful of men that we have had to address on the boardwalk in the last year.

I suggested and will continue to suggest that a coalition form of affinity groups that will outreach to those suffering from mental instability using a model that builds empowerment, psychological resilience, independence and individual growth along with shelter. A connection back to healthy mind, spirit and body….

And it was noted by quite a few of the participants that a group of younger adults/kids were reported to be creating disturbances on Venice Boardwalk through the night. This group is defined as runaways or kids without a home. I was not actively engaged with this group but will investigate to learn more about the situation.

This was not the entire list of items but provides a bit of what transpired. The task force will meet again soon.

Lisa Green


Benches and Tables to Remain at Oakwood Park; New Fitness Stations? Maybe

November 1, 2011

By Anne Alvarez

Fitness stations versus park benches was the most important item on the Oakwood Park Advisory Board’s agenda, Nov. 1, and quite clearly what drove Venice locals to come out and make their voices heard.

According to Lizka Mendoza Oakwood Park Director, final decision for it’s whereabouts are unknown. At one point, according to various people in attendance, during a previous Advisory meeting had been led to believe that “park benches would be removed in order to make room for the exercise equipment” this statement was denied by Mendoza and the rest of the board members.

One thing was made clear however, and that is that Venice residents most of them lifetime residents, are completely opposed to any kind of relocation or removal of park benches, which according to many like Sheila Smith, who has lived in Venice for the past 44 years, is where the true heart of the community lies. Old friends gather and play dominoes, checkers or cards on any given day, family picnics and birthday celebrations take place every weekend. It is a place where memories and tradition are kept alive.

Gentrification is a word that was used by most who took the floor, the local community mostly African American and Latino which have resided in the Oakwood park area for generations, feel their community is being torn apart by the new more affluent residents that have recently begun to call their neighborhood, home, and they turned out in force to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Not only do residents oppose the proposed site for the exercise equipment, but they want more park benches added as well as an outdoor restroom.

Not one person was opposed to having outdoor exercise equipment provided, Shaylon Williams from the Venice Bulldogs said “Having a fitness area is a great idea.”  95 percent of those who spoke voiced their concerns about the location, while the other 5 percent were concerned with trash and safety. All made valid points and everyone present at the meeting clearly cares about the future of the community.

Make your voice heard by sending an email to Jon Kirk Muri  jonkirk.mukri@lacity.org  or calling 213-202-2656 at Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Dept., tell them you oppose any attempt to move or relocate any existing park benches at Oakwood Park, let them know bathrooms and proper lighting are imperative in keeping the Park and community safe and clean.


Fighting the Postal Monolith

November 1, 2011

By Jim Smith

Venice has always risen to the challenge when an outside force has threatened our community. Over the years, we have prevailed numerous times against developers and the city of Los Angeles.

During the past six months a broad coalition has been built to oppose the US Postal Service plans to close our historic post office. Unlike our battles with local developers and the City, the USPS has been a shadowy monolith 3,000 miles away. There has been no human face to focus on and apply pressure. How do you fight something that has no concept of negotiations or compromise?

Nonetheless, we have collected petitions, filed appeals, held meetings and rallies (another is scheduled for Nov. 5), and in general, raised hell. A broad coalition of Venice organizations and individuals has been formed that includes the Free Venice Beachhead, SPARC, Venice Arts Council, Venice Neighborhood Council, Venice Peace and Freedom, Venice Stakeholders Association, and Venice Town Council. Other organizations and individuals are welcome to join.

Even so, the only break in the monolithic face of the USPS occurred on Oct. 31, when about 40 of us met with Ruth Goldway, Chairperson of the Postal Regulatory Commisssion (PRC). Goldway is a Venice resident, former Mayor of Santa Monica (as Ruth Yannatta), and is in sympathy with our desire to save the post office.

The PRC is the body that oversees the operation of the Postal Service. A number of Venetians have appeals of the closing pending before this body. Unfortunately, Goldway has to recuse herself, or abstain, from participating in the deliberations because it concerns her local post office.

Goldway made it clear that she cannot snap her fingers and make the USPS leave our post office alone. She started our meeting by telling us that her Commission has three Republicans and two Democrats (including her). If this majority was reversed we might not be facing the closing of more than 3,000 post offices and the layoff of 120,000 workers.

It could have been reversed, Goldway told us. President Obama made an appointment to the Commission, but he appointed a Republican! As a result, there is no internal mechanism to stop the self-destruction cycle of the Postal Service. Goldway also told us that the House of Representatives is not likely to be much help because of its domination by Republicans. Perhaps this is why the USPS paid little attention to Rep. Janice Hahn when she wrote on behalf of our post office.

It wasn’t all bad news. Goldway also pointed out some possible ways to get our case heard in Washington, including:

1. Contact our Senators, Feinstein and Boxer. Please make a call or send an email.  Boxer: (202) 224-3553 www.boxer.senate.gov/en/contact/  Feinstein: (202) 224-3841  www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/e-mail-me

2. Make it difficult to sell the Post Office. Venice already has a reputation for being feisty. Let’s hold more rallies and protests that may frighten off prospective buyers. Just because the property is on the market doesn’t mean it will be sold.

3. Make sure that we have the strongest historical preservation restrictions possible. The same goes for the Biberman mural. Public access to the mural must be guaranteed.

4. Make the case that the transfer of services to the annex amounts to a partial closure. The USPS claims it is not closing the post office, merely relocating it. However, the number of customer service windows in the annex would be two, compared to the current five windows. This amounts to a partial closure. The willful lack of maintenance, including a dirty entry way, a graffiti covered FedEx box, and sidewalks that haven’t been sandblasted for years shows that the USPS has disdain for its customers. The Postal Service is trying to shoehorn everything into a small building. According to Architect Michael King, the Post Office building is 23,700 square feet, while the Annex is only 15,890.

In addition, please help with legal expenses by making a contribution by paypal on the the VSA website (venicestakeholdersassociation.org) –  there is a separate “button” for Save the Venice Post Office – or by sending contributions directly to our attorney, John Henning, with a notation on the check that says “Venice Post Office”, at: 125 N. Sweetzer Ave. Los Angeles, CA  90048. There is a separate trust fund for this project.


Sidebar – Why Saving the Post Office is important to our community

November 1, 2011

The Venice Main Post Office was built under the New Deal’s Works Project Administration and includes a cornerstone dated 1939. This historic building has been at the center of Venice community life for 72 years.

It is located on the central plaza in the Windward commercial district. It is constantly busy with postal customers arriving on foot, by bicycle and auto. There is no busier building in the Venice community. Generations of Venetians have patronized this building on a regular basis throughout their lives.

Upon climbing the stairs or handicap-accessible ramp, we enter an attractive lobby with a deep wood finish. Their eyes automatically turn to the beautiful and well-preserved “Story of Venice” mural by artist Edward Biberman on the south wall. The mural was painted in 1941 by the famous artist, and is his last surviving mural. It is seen by hundreds of people per day, thanks to its position in the post office lobby.

The aesthetic charm of the building, and the museum-quality art in the lobby, is beloved by this community, which is filled with artists, poets, muralists and connoisseurs of art.

The character of the Venice community as an arts haven means that the blow to the community of losing both the building and the mural is far greater than it would have been if it were a nondescript building that was bereft of art.

-Jim Smith


After 20 years, Ocean Blue closes its doors On the Venice Boardwalk

November 1, 2011

By Kathy Leonardo

When I first came to Venice, before I even moved to LA, I remember a store on the boardwalk called Ocean Blue. It had such cool stuff, mermaids with wings, flying high above my head, colorful painted wood framed mirrors in the shape of a sun, the smell of incense and candles burning as well as beautiful sterling silver jewelry. Back in the 90’s I would buy gifts for my NYC friends there, at Ocean Blue, to bring back to the East Coast.

I just found out that it soon will be closing….after 20 years. I recently met the owner of Ocean Blue, Larry Gutin who told me a bit about his story and the store and how long it has been in his family. “My Dad started a T-Shirt business on the beach back in 1978. Back in those days, Venice had stalls that you could rent and sell your wares.” Since his parents were divorced, Larry lived full time with his mother in NY but would spend the summers in LA with his Dad. In 1982 Larry’s older brother Jeff, took it over. Then in 1983 Larry moved to LA and worked while he went to college.

In 1990, Larry Gutin traveled to Indonesia. He fell in love with Bali and the beautiful arts and crafts made there. Larry shipped some merchandise back to his brother Jeff, to see if it would sell. It was indeed a huge hit in Venice and Larry continued to bring beautiful items from Bali to sell at Ocean Blue. Silver Jewelry was added to the product line at Ocean Blue. His brother Jeff decided to retire from the business, leaving Larry as the chief in command.

The economy definitely affected sales at Ocean Blue in the last four or five years, but Gutin managed to stick it out with the help of the Venice community’s support. When asked if he is sad about closing, he shrugs and says, “It’s time for a change.” Larry is considering starting a new business, but in the meantime has decided to go out with a bang!

On Sunday, December 4, Ocean Blue will throw a party, as a thank you for the community, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. There will be live music, art and poetry as well as a huge sale. Everything in the store marked down by 50%. Refreshments and snacks will be served. Performers featured will be Ava Bird, John Clinebell, Greg Cruz, Geoffrey J, Kathy Leonardo and a special guest performance by the Jingle Bell Rockers.

When asked why he continued the business for so long, Larry explains, “Everyday I would meet smiling tourists from all over the world. It was a great place to come to work everyday not to mention that when I built the store I made sure the register had a direct view of the beach and its sunsets.”

Larry Gutin is a big supporter of the arts. Each month, Ocean Blue would participate in the Venice Art Crawl featuring local artists at their store. He also has consistently donated merchandise to charity events such as Jazz at the Palms Court and the Venice Music Festival, for their silent auction which benefitted the Venice Community Housing Corporation.

So come on by on Sunday, December 4 from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. Celebrate 20 years with Larry Gutin and the Ocean Blue Crew.  Pick up some holiday gifts at exceptional prices. Drink, eat and be merry. Life is all about change, it’s time for the next chapter. Ocean Blue will remain open through the end of the year.

Farewell Ocean Blue, Venice will miss you!


Unoccupied – Two Views on the Occupy Movement

November 1, 2011

By Greta Cobar

Occupy Venice voluntarily de-occupied the Windward Circle while all over the country the police have taken violent, extraordinary measures to do just that. Infiltrators have penetrated occupation movements in an effort to stir disagreements, fights, and ultimately to dissipate the collective solidarity of the 99%. Although the 1300 occupations taking place right now in the US have stayed strong when faced with internal strife and continued to expand in spite of police brutality, quite the opposite took place in Venice.

The Venice occupiers themselves called the police and asked them to remove person(s) from the Circle. One might think that the person(s) had to be removed because they were part of the other 1%, but that was hardly the case. The group that assumed leadership of the Circle announced that the Circle should be occupied strictly by non-homeless individuals. According to them, “this is not a bed. If you are homeless and you are just looking for a place to sleep, don’t come over here.”

But this is Venice, and it has been occupied. We’ve had hundreds of people sleeping outside since the great recession has set in. And then as soon as “Occupy Venice” signs go up people are chased out of their own neighborhood?

Although piggy-backing on the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Venice occupation was different. In Venice individuals did take charge and put themselves in a position of leadership, and adopted the motto “We are the 99% and the 1%. Together we are 100% and we are whole.” It sounds bohemian, but it does not represent Venice, which has historically embraced alternative lifestyles, including non-housed individuals.

The persons in power don’t represent Venice either. Since when do we follow someone who has moved here from Texas seven months ago, had been given a top secret security clearing, and who blatantly stated that in the past the CIA had tried to recruit him?

Perhaps we need to re-occupy the circle with true community involvement. Real Venetians who have been local activists for years or generations were quickly driven away by the individuals who assumed leadership of the circle through arrogance, self-righteousness and ignorance. The whole movement got off to a bad start when Jody Evans, of Code Pink, initiated the occupation on October 9. She was there just long enough for the photo-op, which is not to be found in the definition of occupation.

Housed or not, come out and occupy the Circle and the world!

We will start from scratch Saturday, November 5, from 4 to 6. And don’t forget about the rally to stop the sale of the historic post office that also takes place November 5, from 2 to 4. See you all there!


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