By Mike Newhouse
Most of us have heard of “One-Percent for the Planet” and similar pledges. In a nutshell, businesses, or individuals, pledge to donate one percent of their profits or income to organizations that work to protect and preserve our environment. A worthy pledge, no doubt, but I’d like to suggest a twist; “One-Percent for Venice”.
However, I’m not talking about donating one percent of profits or income to Venice based causes. While doing so, if possible, is certainly worthwhile and important, I am suggesting that all Venetians pledge to donate at least one percent of our time to Venice. Broken out, on average, that’s volunteering approximately 24 minutes a day, 2.8 hours a week, or 11-12 hours a month in our community. We can all do that.
In a time where budgets are not addressing community needs, and maybe never will, such a community-wide pledge is our best bet for finding the people power we need to tackle some important issues in Venice.
For example, Venice has some pressing infrastructure issues that need addressing, now. Our sidewalks are in disrepair, tree trimming is badly neglected, our alleys are almost un-driveable, there is too much trash on the streets, animal and human waste are not regularly cleaned, and graffiti is not removed in a timely basis.
With our wealth of experience in Venice, it is easy to envision some folks volunteering their time to raise money for these projects, others coordinating and administering the projects, and yet others providing the labor for the projects.
In fact, many organizations, including the Venice Neighborhood Council and Venice Chamber of Commerce are already set up to help facilitate, and partially fund, such community improvement projects. Likewise, the LAPD and Councilman Mike Bonin’s office would no doubt be more than happy to put us to work.
Of course, in addition to infrastructure, children need mentoring. Building on existing programs to mentor our youth in music, arts, sports, languages, and other important subjects would also be a fantastic use of volunteer efforts. And, having our children grow up being mentored by their own neighbors would instill an appreciation of volunteerism in them that would hopefully stay with them for life.
One-Percent for Venice could also be an excellent opportunity to assist organizations working with our homeless community. Not only could this be a great way to help those in need, but it could also be a great way to create volunteer opportunities for the homeless to help themselves, their friends, and their community. Working with organizations that provide such assistance, while building self-worth, would go a long ways towards helping to alleviate issues related to homelessness in Venice.
No doubt, many of us are already giving this much of our time and a lot more. But, imagine what we could do as a community if we all took this pledge. The possibilities are limitless.
Mike Newhouse is an attorney, a 19-year Venice resident, and President of the Venice Neighborhood Council.