Game seeks ideas for improving Venice

An interactive online game is asking locals to pitch their ideas for making Venice a better place.

The payoff: members of Venice Beach Young Professionals, a philanthropic arm of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, will spearhead efforts to accomplish the winning ideas.

The Venice Innovation Game, accepting entries through Tuesday, allows participants to comment on, help refine and vote for the ideas they like best. Popular ideas so far include a business-funded resource network to help the homeless get off the street, a cooperative maker space for artists, and a guide to navigating government red tape.

The collaborative game runs on a platform developed by Santa Monica-based tech startup Northern Rift.

“Ideas don’t start off perfect. Everybody has hunches about how to make the world a better place, but we don’t share them. That’s a waste of creativity,” said Northern Rift founder Robert DePinto. “Even incremental changes can improve a community.”

The top five innovators and top five collaborators will receive prizes donated by chamber members and valued at thousands of dollars.

“We wanted a way to inspire and encourage open discussion around challenges we face in Venice,” Venice Beach Young Professionals President Aileen Martinez said. “These ideas will provide VBYP with an inventory of innovation.”

To play the game, visit

— Joe Piasecki


Workshop tackles cost of saving the Civic

The economic feasibility of resurrecting the mothballed Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is the focus of a two-day public workshop on Saturday and Sunday at the Civic’s east annex.

The city-appointed Civic Working Group and consultants HR&A Advisors are asking participants to use an interactive budget tool to explore and find solutions for the practical challenges of renovation.

A public workshop in September identified four options, ranging from converting the 1958 venue into retail and office space to a full $52-million restoration of the Civic as the centerpiece of a new arts and culture district.

A final public workshop set for March 21 will reconcile the Civic Working Group’s findings with community in-
put in preparation for a May vote by the Santa Monica City Council to determine the fate of the venue.

This weekend’s workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both days.

Call (310) 458-8350 for more information.

— Michael Aushenker


Engage L.A. blends tech and storytelling

Call it connecting the dots in Silicon Beach. The Engage L.A. conference on Tuesday at Sony Studios Backstage Theater in Culver City brings together industry leaders in digital technology and entertainment to explore a natural synergy.

“We are talking about how to create the next generation of engagement: connecting with the audience in a way that gets them to do something different,” said Engage L.A. organizer Derek Smith. “We have the assets, industries and talent to make L.A. the destination for digital content creation and good storytelling. We can be bigger and better than Silicon Valley.”

Speakers include executives from Lionsgate Entertainment, Creative Artists Agency, Maker Studios and Machinima.

For registration information, visit and search “Engage L.A.”

— Joe Piasecki