By Edizen Stowell
The Venice Surf and Skateboard Association have been around for 15 years. VSA unofficially started in 1993 and was officially recognized during a demonstration as the Venice Pavilion was being torn down by the City of L.A. in 2000.
VSA’s mission is to serve the youth and to preserve the surf and skateboard culture/lifestyle in Venice. Some of their activities include hosting surf and skateboarding contests and demonstrations throughout the Los Angeles and greater Southern California region.
This year, they hosted the 15th Annual Venice Surf Competition on October 18 and the VSA skateboarding competition on July 14. Some VSA members also provide mentoring and skate lessons to the youth. Right now, their main project is to bring a world class skate park to Venice.
The active members of Venice Surf and Skateboard Association include enthusiasts Ger-I Lewis (Executive Director and Venice Surf-A-Thon founder), Jimmy Valentine (Music co-coordinator), Tonan Ruiz (Surf Instructor) , Lance LeMond (Veniceskates.com) , Bart Saric (Art Director), Heidi Lemmon (SPAUSA Skate park Association of America), Orion Comstock (Ozonegear.com) and BMFS (Sgt. at Arms). Currently, there are about 150 VSA members.
VSA members anxiously await the construction of a new skate park in Venice. VSA members have lobbied for over 10 years for this project. Ground breaking of the new Venice Skate Park was scheduled for September 2008 but has been reschedule to January 2009.
Many VSA members are disappointed because of the delay in the construction. Tonan says, “Santa Monica, Culver City, Fontana, Glendale and even El Segundo have a skate park, but Venice, where skateboarding originated, does not even have a skate park. I asked, “what about the skate park that is there now?” Tonan responds, “It is not a professional skate park. It’s more of a prop, something to look at and it is poorly made.”
The public can support VSA by becoming a member. VSA supports and provides our kids with positive and athletic activities, maintains and keeps the spirit of the Skate and surf culture alive in Venice, is proactive in getting the new Venice Skate park built, and involves a group of men and women who were born and raised in Venice trying to do a good thing for the community by establishing and providing this needed organization. Sports, teams, competitions, community involvement make better kids into better citizens. VSA provides all this.
The Venice Surf and Skateboard Association is asking for people to get involved and join them in their mission to provide positive activities and a venue (new skate park) for the children of Venice. VSA memberships costs $25 per year and includes a membership card, sticker and t-shirt. According to Heidi Lemmon, “Memberships pay for hosting events. To host an event there are permit and insurance fees, trophies, certificates and t-shirts that are given to these kids who participate in these events.” Geri-I says, “The VSA hosted six events last year but we would like to double the events scheduled.”
Documentaries and movies such as the Lords of Dogtown, Dogtown and Z-Boys, and the Rising Sun have made Venice even more popular and has inspired people from all around the world to come to Venice. Skate and surf is a large part of the Venice. Join now! Get involved and help preserve the Venice culture. Volunteer, donate and/or become a member today. It’s super cheap to be a member of VSA.
To obtain more information on Venice Surf and Skateboard Association, to volunteer, obtain membership and for questions regarding the new Venice Skate Park, visit their website at www.venicesurf andskateboardassociation.blogspot.com. Also you can contact Ger-I Lewis via email at [email protected] For more information and to see a 3D design plan of the new skate park visit, www.veniceskates.com. To view a video of this interview or see photos and videos of past VSA events on the internet: www.venicepaparazzi.com.
Be active and help preserve the Venice surf and skate culture. Join today.
Edizen Stowell is a member of Venice Paparazzi.