A Century of Change in Venice

For three months, we've been sifting through the contradictions of Venice, trying to understand the allure of this famous Westside neighborhood. Yet time and time again, just when we seemed to have finally pinned down the neighborhood's true essence, the elusive creature would slip from our hands once more.

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But as Councilwoman Ruth Galanter explains, that frustration is simply another part of life in Venice, a place where everyone has an opinion on seemingly everything.

And, yes, she's right.

Who better represents these passions than Stan Mohammed, a one-time dope dealer turned director of a gang intervention organization, who so stridently believes in the existence of a vast racial conspiracy throughout Venice? Maybe only Tom Hayden, a man who often alludes to the repercussions that shifting property values have for Venice's people of color.

Or consider Venice-native Skip Engblom, a founder of the famous Z-Boy skating crew, who has since moved out of the area in search of the originality and raw talent once characteristic of this old romping ground.

These are some of the many voices with which we begin our conversation with you - the public - about our city's neighborhoods. In March, with the launch of our new platform, we will be inviting you to enhance the conversation by uploading, commenting, and sharing your stories. In the end, our goal is to compile a collective narrative of our city.

Until then, I will leave you with the 98 year-old Novelette Valentine, a Venetian woman whose memory reaches back to a time when gondolas floated down the canals, and segregation dominated the social landscape.

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