To say 2020 has been challenging would be an understatement. For many communities, the struggle is to keep the very alive by supporting local businesses—as we should. Establishments like Wallflower, Venice Beach Wines, The Venice Ale House, and the Waterfront mean a lot to those of us who call Rose Avenue home. Then there’s Big Red Sun, the quaint gift shop that carries unique Venice signature items but, more importantly, has an owner who many of us know and trust.
I'm proud to take visitors to the Venice sign and then the Hotel Erwin rooftop to show off the expansive view of our once-thriving, now-threatened community. Art, food and culture are why we all love this gritty, unique, unrestricted beach town.
But, as we learn to navigate through 2020, we've been faced with the reality that we are fighting two crises: a global pandemic and a homeless crisis. And, as there is hope on the horizon for one, the fight to remedy the other is just as complex and even harder to solve . Our boardwalk is no longer safe to walk. Violent crime has gone up 88 percent in some areas of Venice. Our Citizen apps go off almost daily with reports of new shootings, stabbings, burglaries or sightings of people wielding various weapons doing who knows what.
Not just a few of our sidewalks but a majority of Venice filled with large tents and furniture that makes it impossible to walk in our community. For many, it's in utter disbelief that Venice has come under siege. ore significant is the lack of understanding, empathy, or even representation by Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin. For many of us, the sentiment is that our elected representative has set out to divide our community by stoking anger that comes with inaction and the inability to make a change.
"The way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them." — Ida B. Wells
For more than 20 years, I have worked in the field of journalism. Like many of my counterparts, my journey was meant to discover and reveal truths about my community. My vision in launching the Venice Current was based on that. I wanted to fight for a community that has become a second family on a platform where we can shine the light on the truth. Fellow journalist Glenn Greenwald may have put it best when he wrote : "A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark and informing the public about those acts."
Venice Current writer Angela McGregor filled this role when she first came on staff. While working on an investigative piece for Yo! Venice about the A Bridge Home project, McGregor learned that Bonin's chief of staff had access to—and edited—her article. We're lucky that McGregor’s ethical and professional compass led her to the Current after that.
For many years, the information coming out of Venice has been through Yo! Venice and The Argonaut, two that appear unwilling to hold our elected officials accountable while refusing to follow the money—or seek the truth—at the cost of our community.
Dan Rather said it well: “No one has a monopoly on the truth, but the whole premise of our democracy is that truth and justice must win out. And the role of a trained journalist is to get as close to the truth as is humanly possible. "
Our commitment at the Current is to continue to fight for truth by holding our elected officials accountable. With great contemplation; we have committed to breaking the fourth wall to activate our community in matters that are critical to our wellbeing. We have two important elections ahead of us: the Venice Neighborhood Council and City Council District 11.
We are also committed to covering stories that reveal who we are. We will continue to highlight local artists and newly discovered talents. We will visit new and old restaurants. And, as we enter 2021, it is with optimism that we promise to highlight what makes our small but decidedly brilliant community special.
Yes, we have our fair share of battles ahead of us, but with them will come wins if we, as Venetians , have anything to say about it.
Oh, and we still plan to call it like we see it.
A word from Angela
In the seven years since my husband and I moved here, I've discovered that the amazing thing about Venice is that if you open your heart and mind to it, it will reward you with a deeper sense of who you are and were meant to be. Venice has its own very individual culture—at once welcoming and provincial, creative and innovative, and intensely protective of its history. For that reason, Venice feels like a city within a city, often at odds with Los Angeles.
It's not surprising that Venice has one of the county’s most active neighborhood councils, with more voter participation every two years than the rest of City Council District 11 put together. And I've been honored to cover it since that day in 2014 when my neighbor, Reta Moser, asked if I'd be interested in covering the Venice Neighborhood Council for her online publication, the Venice Update. After a decades-long detour into the more lucrative role of web developer, I'm back where I began in college—as a local journalist.
I discovered in 2020 that ‘speaking truth to power’ is more important and more challenging than ever. Outlets like this one cover the stories that mean so much to Venice. They are the stories that are frequently overlooked by larger media , including the inconvenient truths that local officials would prefer not to confront. I'm honored to be a part of the Venice Current staff and look forward to covering Venice for years to come. I hope that 2021 will be the year we put down our old, tired narratives and prejudices and really listen to one another in order to meet the post-pandemic challenges that are sure to come our way.
Venice means freedom to me, freedom to be who or what you want. It's a lively community that welcomes every expression of human (and possibly extraterrestrial) life and puts it on a beachfront parade backlit by spectacular sunsets. Writing about Venice is important to me because there's a lot happening within its three square miles, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to explore it story by story.
2020 ends with Venice streets run by the transient and unhoused population. Two Venice residents have died as a result of assaults by homeless people this year, and no one seems all that enraged. Covid has shut down numerous businesses and there are for sale and for rent signs everywhere. Neighbors have moved on to parts unknown. It is much different here than it was last January 1 and not for the better. It’s a sad place right now.
Yet, we remain full of hope for the new year. We will go to the beach, take walks in glorious sunshine and keep on keeping on. That’s Venice. Come on, 2021.
2020 was challenging and taxing for all. Hopefully 2021 provides a renewal of spirit and hope for our community of Venice!