Author: betsygoldman

Masters in the Chapel Concert Series: music to our ears

It’s nice when something positive happens as a result of a negative event. Seven years ago, an electrical fire broke out in the chancel of the First Lutheran Church in Venice. A year and a half later, the sanctuary was resurrected. “In the restoration process, it became even more beautiful than it was before and it’s also an acoustically amazing place,” says Barbara Schwan. Manuel Rosales, who worked on organs for Disney Hall and the new cathedral downtown, built a state-of-the-art organ for the church. “So there is a serious instrument there,” she adds. Barbara thought that having serious classical music in the sanctuary would be “awesome.” So when she was approached to be the director of fellowship (community outreach) at the church, she said to herself, “Bingo, here’s my perfect thing to do.” She wanted to make a deal. She envisioned starting a concert series if she accepted the position. Pastor Kenneth Frese, the pastor at that time, was thrilled because it turns out he is a music fanatic. “I started going forward and I figured that I might as well start at the top and see what happens,” Barbara says. Her first call was to Andrea Laguni, general manager of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Laguni said he thought the space was amazing and the acoustics were great and said, “Yes we’ll do it.” The first Masters...

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16-year-old Casey Parker already reaching out to help others in area

Sometimes it does take a village — or, in our case — a community, to help a child. We are aware of the wonderful social service agencies that exist to help children and need to reach out for assistance in their endeavors. But what happens, when the table is turned, and it is the child who reaches out — not to help himself, but to help others? A case in point is 16-year-old Casey Parker, a junior at Venice High School. As a freshman, Casey qualified to participate in a Leadership program for students who organize school-wide activities and promote school spirit. That was the beginning. Then he became interested in a Renaissance program, fundraising for gifts to congratulate students with a 2.0 or better GPA (grade point average). This is where Casey blossomed. His first activity was a pancake breakfast he experienced as a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Police Explorer. He even got an award from the Venice Marina Lions Club for ticket sales, presented at an LAPD Pacific Boosters luncheon. For a school breakfast to benefit his school Renaissance program, he went door-to-door in his neighborhood and sold 400 tickets, generating $2,000. This experience taught him how to talk to people and set goals. He set as a goal for himself selling a certain number of tickets each day. He even went out on his rounds...

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Children’s Guardian Foundation: keeping children safe

A friend of Venice resident Helen Estrada, Ron Starkman, asked for her assistance in developing and marketing an idea he had to prevent accidents involving children at school crosswalks. Starkman, who lives in Nevada, called it a “Crosswalk Guardian,” a hand-held flashing stop sign. Once you raise the sign the light goes on and once it’s pointed down, the light goes off. It’s especially noticeable in inclement weather. There’s a rechargeable adapter connection at the bottom that’s plugged in like a cell phone to recharge the light. “The flashing light immediately grabs people’s attention three times sooner than” signs that are currently used, Helen says. “That means three seconds, and three seconds can mean everything. It can mean a child’s life.” This was something personal and close to Helen’s heart, for she was an accident victim as a child. “When I was a child I was at a pedestrian crossing and was hit by a car going 40 miles per hour,” she says. “My shoes were knocked off. “I couldn’t feel my feet. I couldn’t walk for a couple of weeks. I missed a lot of school. I was in rehab every day. I do have spinal damage for the rest of my life. “You know what, I’m lucky. There are a lot of families that I talk to who are still mourning the loss of their children and...

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Local groups addressing domestic violence issues

The images will be etched in our memories forever, the loss felt in our hearts for a lifetime. The bloodiest day on American soil since the Civil War played out, not with soldiers on a battlefield, but in an everyday scene with folks like you and me. That was 9/11. More recently, natural disasters, tsunamis and hurricanes, have wreaked havoc on thousands of lives. Again, the images won’t go away. The terror that has reverberated throughout the world has not eliminated other global atrocities that continue to affect people on a daily basis. And what about the terror that invades our homes, in the confines of one’s supposedly safe refuge? In observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, here is an acknowledgement of the efforts of Venice residents in advocacy and healing that make a difference for domestic violence victims. ADVOCACY — Carol Tantau recalls that after the O.J. Simpson verdict came out in 1995, a fellow board member of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Community Police Advisory Board of the Pacific Area Police Station approached her about looking at domestic violence in terms of a partnership that could be productive between the community and the police. Carol suggested this project at the next board meeting and it has been non-stop for her ever since. “Coincidentally at that time,” says Carol, “there was a request from Sojourn, an agency...

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130-foot mural on wall of Pioneer French Bakery notes future for local area

Be sure to go look at “Becoming the Circle” on the 130-foot west wall of the Pioneer French Bakery on Rose Avenue in Venice. Community-based artist Francisco Letelier conceived the project. “Since I’ve lived in Oakwood for about 18 years, I’ve wanted to do something in my own neighborhood,” says Francisco. What is its future? “There have been a couple of ideas from people of placing the panels that are left over at different places,” says Francisco. “So, I think that they will have a home somewhere. They need a home. “My general mode of operation as a muralist is that I’m interested in creating new murals. Murals disappear over time, no matter what. “So over the long haul, it doesn’t serve me too much to preserve them or protect them. “The final judgment of a mural is whether a community loves them and creates a new home for them.” The mural celebrates life in Oakwood. Images, taken from real life, composites, photographs and experiences, weave a tale of the community fabric. As most events in Venice, it wasn’t without its bit of controversy. Community input was received during several meetings held under the auspices of SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center). “People who came to the community meetings in the beginning,” says Francisco, “were really ‘watchdog’ kind of people. They seemed to come with predisposed feelings.” A...

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