By Greta Cobar
Lisa Green is one of the Goddesses who makes Venice the colorful, intricate, exciting and interesting place that it is. She has been displaying her art on Ocean Front Walk, by Dudley, for about five years while at the same time being an ever-present advocate for love, justice and equality at our community meetings. To celebrate the 104th anniversary of the March 8 International Women’s Day, the Beachhead chose to spotlight her, out of the thousands of awesome Venice women.
Beachhead: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Lisa Green: International Women’s Day is a call to unite, to honor, to embrace, and act as strong willful and passionate women. Our voices have enormous power and now more than ever we as women, all connected on Earth, must assist in shifting the balance of power towards equality.
BH: What brought you here?
LG: About ten years ago, I went through one and a half years of cathartic life-changing events that ultimately brought me here all the way from Florida. I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mother died during my recovery, my long-term relationship came to an end, and I resigned from my job as a corporate financial analyst. I had to re-engineer myself and gave away almost everything I had, except for my dog Tiki. The two of us made the journey to Venice about eight years ago.
BH: Why did you choose Venice?
LG: I went through a spiritual awakening and I was unequivocally drawn to Venice as the place that I had to go to if I wanted to continue growing. It is the place I chose to find myself in the new chapter of my life. I knew that Venice was next in my journey.
BH: And where did that journey take you?
LG: When I came here I started to re-define myself as a more politically active artist. I joined socialist groups and participated in peace marches, did homeless outreach on skid row, became an active Green Party member. At first I was still holding a corporate job, as a financial analyst, in El Segundo. I was really good at what I was doing. But my integrity did not allow me to work for a screwed-up boss, and most of them are.
BH: How did you leap from that to being an artist on Ocean Front Walk?
LG: I was an artist my whole life – my father encouraged it. I used to draw, did glass mosaic and worked with clay. I gave it all away. Back in Florida, when attending craft festivals, I wanted to be on the other side, as an artist. Here in Venice, I started my own company, Green Earth Creations. I was designing cotton t-shirts and printing them myself, and was also making soy candles. At that time these were acceptable sale items on Ocean Front Walk, and I joined the lottery that was in effect at that time. When I did get a spot, I spent weekends on Ocean Front Walk displaying my creations, but I was still holding on to my corporate job in El Segundo.
BH: Where were you living at that time?
LG: I was at the hostel on Lincoln, the motel in Ocean Park, and an apartment in Mar Vista. I stopped participating in the lottery for spaces about a year after I started because I could see the conflict, division, corruption and distraction that it was creating. And it pissed off my boss, but I resigned from my corporate job in El Segundo around that time as well. I already knew Diane and Ibrahim Butler and we talked, and decided that we would join forces and camp out by Dudley, in front of the Bistro. With their encouragement and after seeing how they lived, I decided that I could do the same thing they were doing: be vehicle-housed. It was something that I chose for a number of reasons. Inherently it is my right to live my life in an alternative way that gives me freedom from a lot of the socio-economic trappings that would tie up a lot of my time and take me away from my art and the message I want to share with everyone. I set out to be a voice for others and live in a way that most of society doesn’t understand.
BH: And that’s when you started displaying your art next to Ibrahim?
LG: Yes, my paintings, sculptures. I knew that my artwork and my way of living would have a profound impact and people would come after me and try to stop what I was doing. But living that way kept me protected from certain individuals who might challenge me and the message that I was delivering. They couldn’t take away from me the things they usually go after: your house, your financial reputation, your family. Because of the way I live I had freed myself as much as possible from the constrictions and the idea of what is supposed to matter in America.
BH: Do you feel that you found what you set out searching for when you came to Venice?
LG: I found many of me – quite a few. Yes, without a doubt because I am living my life more authentically, living my truth, and I am using my natural abilities to be creative. The corporate world gave me intimate knowledge of the financial structures in different organizations, and that helped me when speaking out against the mis-use of power. I did a lot of soul-searching and healing in this process. It’s an ongoing process.
BH: Did you find that Venice was the right place for you to come to?
LG: Venice gave me a space to reveal my true self to the world. It is a mystical, intense place, and I am an intense person. It is synchronicity. Venice is love – the strongest power in the Universe. Ocean Front Walk is the front line – or the end of the line.
BH: How has Venice changed in the last eight years that you’ve been here?
LG: I’ve seen a lot of changes in Venice, such as gentrification, especially over the last three years. I’ve seen many people around Venice coming together to stand against injustice – the amount of people now working together is new. Before people were holding grudges against each other and not connecting. Like this person was not talking to this person because of something that happened ten years ago. These were stalemates and digressions. Venice is coming together in crisis, it is phenomenal like that. Now there is more unity and common ground, people are coming together. People are taking care of each other more. People are coming together to have a dialogue not only with each other, but with the planet. Grassroots movements have sprouted in the last few years, and people are making a difference socially, politically and environmentally in a very positive, non-violent way.
BH: Do you hold hope for our struggles?
LG: Most people would prefer to be humane rather than hurtful and hateful, but there are wounds that we have to heal from, individually and collectively, and in order to do the healing each person has to be willing to face their fears and look inside themselves and resist the urge to only see the problems outside of themselves. Venice can be a place of harmony on Earth. Work on yourself, not on attacking outside of yourself – if you hate anything outside of you it comes from within.
BH: As an artist, do you feel that art plays a part in our individual and collective struggles?
LG: Everyone has the ability to be an artist. Art comes in many facets. It is in the middle of EARTH. The more you tap into your own creativity, the more you understand yourself and the world around you, the more you can heal yourself and live more peacefully. We’re all creating our own reality. Take back the story – control the story! I win because I’m telling the story.
By Greta Cobar