This past Saturday was all about the Community in Venice. You can feel Summer's approach, and everyone was out and about doing their weekend thing. A few different groups were having events to continue to work on our sense of that community, and maybe grow a bit more empathy for each other while they were at it. The first stop (after coffee at The French Market, of course) was the Venice Community Housing Chalk Art Festival in the parking lot between North and South Venice on Pacific Avenue. I could hear drumming in the distance as I walked down Venice Boulevard, and it made me kick it up a notch, so I was practically race-walking to get there to see what was happening.
What was happening was a fantastic female drumming group called Bloco Obini, who were brightly dressed in African fabrics and banging their hearts out, watched over by the mural of Abbot Kinney - who I'm pretty sure would whole-heartedly approve. They were drumming next to the beautiful chalk mandala that Gary Palmer had created with kids and other members of the community at this event meant to bring awareness to trying to solve the homelessness problem. It also served to spotlight the fact that Venice is meant to be about ART (stay tuned for another awesome art situation Gary and I have in the works!) - at every level.
There was a giant chalk message spelling out "We Are All Venice" - Truth! - and that was also the message on the buttons that the VCH Arts Collective were handing out. Taylor Barnes was also there, creating a chalk Goddess of Venice, and it was all just lovely, and exactly what you want to see going down in Venice on the weekend ... Art plus FUN!
Next stop was the Ladies Jam contest at the Venice Skatepark, where big crowds surrounded the Skatepark to watch the girls have the place all to themselves - and they RIPPED.
It's mesmerizing and inspiring (and makes you super jealous) to watch the strong, talented ladies tear it up just as hard as the boys ... and more gracefully. Skater girls are the best, and it was a joy to see them all get their moment in the sun (and the clouds, but still!). The Skatepark is another gem that means the world to so many of the youth (and grownups too), that gives them their own sense of community, and keeps them out of real trouble. What a treasure!
I could have stayed all day to watch the female skaters, but spots on the railing were at a premium, and I had to get over to The Brig parking lot before their event for S.P.Y. (Safe Place For Youth) was over. The parking lot was packed with people there to support the work of S.P.Y. and meet, greet, and congratulate the youth who have been through their program and come out the other side. We have worked with S.P.Y. on our documentary 90291: VENICE UNZIPPED, and I can tell you that I have seen first-hand the special place that this is. I honestly don't know what so many young people would do without them. They provide food, showers, clothes, check-ups, computer training, job outreach, and so much more they really deserve the accolades being presented to them at this event.
I again couldn't stay that long as I had even more things to get to (not in Venice and off the record), but was encouraged to see such a large crowd there yes, to enjoy the day drinking at the outside bar (tended by former S.P.Y. attendees), but also to applaud and hold up the great work being done by S.P.Y. for all to see.
Thank you to David Paris for hosting the event, and for letting me know about it!
As I was taking off, I thought it was appropriate to see that the homeless Abbot Kinney had been painted on to the side of The Brig, needing money for the now outrageous Venice rents - like many of the S.P.Y. kids, like the people that the VCH serves, and like myself. We're all doing our best to stay in the place that we love, and there isn't enough thanks for the people and organizations that still care about their community being housed. Hopefully events like these will serve to kick the ones in the pants that still need to get it. That we're all in this together, and that we know the problems all day - yet some strive for solutions, and do their best to implement them the best that they can. They're doing SOMETHING ... which is a lot more than a lot of people can say.
I felt pretty good about our Community as I went off to start my evening, because there are clearly still so many good people doing so many good things. That's the way I want to be, and that's what the world needs the very most right now. No more bad news. Let's concentrate on how good we CAN be. Please join us, won't you?
Happy Monday - and the opportunity to do more good this week!