How many years in Venice?
< 1 year – founded in August 2020
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
Christopher Lee is a future minded, social conscious freelance event producer and community organizer. His efforts to create and engage communities in a positive manner have led to his work with cities, nonprofits, and corporations. He is a Paul Harris fellow of the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, a member of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Outreach Committee, and founder of www.venicecommunitycleanups.org. He strives to be an inspiration to those around him, aiming to perpetuate positive, effective impact in all that he, and those he touches, do.
Tell us about the work your organization does and the programs you run?
Venice Community Cleanups strives to consolidate all the trash collection efforts from various organizations in Venice Beach. From the Venice Beach BID, to the Venice Chamber of Commerce, to the Venice Neighborhood Council, to community led efforts, Venice Community Cleanups coordinates volunteers, supplies, and cleanup efforts in an attempt to keep Venice trash free.
Outside of Venice Community Cleanups, Christopher Lee is piloting a “Help to Home” mentorship program for people experiencing homelessness. The intention is to establish one-to-one relationships from community members to unhoused residents in the community that create a support network that transition unhoused residents into long term housing and allow them the tools to stay and succeed in their new situations.
How long in business, and how did you get started? Where did the idea or inspiration come from?
Venice Community Cleanups started in August 2020. After walking the beach and parking on Mildred Ave, it became apparent that LA Sanitation efforts are insufficient to address the amount of trash that is generated in the community. With a commitment to making a difference, Christopher Lee gathered a few friends and created a bi-weekly trash clean up effort. As he continued, he connected with the Venice Chamber and their efforts, as well as became a member of the VNC’s Outreach Committee. The goal is that Venice Beach will eventually have community generated efforts that keep our community clean, while also collecting and providing the city critical data that will increase the efficacy of city services.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Less of an accomplishment than a feature of the website – the ‘heatmap’ on the lower half of the site is coded to represent areas that have been cleaned with colors that identify how recent each cleanup was. The dream is to have all of Venice constant green meaning there’s been a trash pick up effort within the last two weeks.
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?
Thankfully LA City did publish a COVID-19 guide to community trash collection efforts, which is available on the site. During the stricter lockdowns over the holidays, we paused operations and, as things are re-opening, we are back in full force.
What support do you need? How can one help your organization?
We are seeking neighborhood captains that are willing to coordinate and commit to regular cleaning efforts in their section of Venice Beach. Whether that’s on Rose Ave or by Windward Circle or in East Venice, the more leaders that are willing to take on a regular cleanup, the more maintained we can keep Venice!
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, upcoming events,, etc
Please visit www.venicecommunitycleanups.org and sign up for our newsletter – we’d appreciate seeing you at an upcoming cleanup effort. Additionally, if you’re interested in having your area cleaned, please drop us a line in the Contact form – it may take us a few weeks to get to your area, and we’re glad to direct volunteers to support where you are!
A few personal questions:
Success a measure of a person’s mastery in what they are committed to. If one is committed to making money, for example, and has developed techniques that allow them to make money, mastery would be creating the ‘effortless effort’ around those techniques that would lead to greater financial gains and, accordingly for that individual, success.
With relation to community service, mastery would be in conversations that lead to effective and immediate action. Thus, success in community service would be having powerful conversations in a variety of social issues that lead to effective and immediate action.
What is the best advice you have received?
“Be unreasonable.” – this is distinct from being irrational. Most of us are a myriad of reasons to do, or not to do something – we are waiting for the right time or for the money to be available or for a sign, etc. Being unreasonable means to put aside those reasons and to simply take action because we want to take action – the reasons that prevent us from doing something will dissolve in the face of such action or more reasons to continue taking action will appear and support us in our endeavors.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
From Andre Gide: “Rather than recount his life as he has lived it, [the artist] must live his life as he will recount it.”
Favorite book, band or movie?
- Favorite book – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
- Favorite band – N/A
- Favorite movie – “The Thirteenth Floor”
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments.
Yes! I’m constantly looking for adventures, whether in real life or on paper or in the virtual. I appreciate a great story, love to bite off more than I can chew, and love crafting worlds to explore (via Dungeons & Dragons).
My first business card read “Christopher Lee, Dilettante” and had the slogan “If you can’t do it, I can. If I can’t, I have friends.”
Venice is a dream of what LA can be, from the million dollar houses to the multitude of street murals, from Abbott Kinney to the beach. It is a melting pot of generations worth of work, an influx of new residents, and those who wander. Venice is an ideal place to show what Los Angeles can be to the rest of the city and to the world.
What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?
Honestly? A LOT of video games… that and a lot of long bike rides up and down the coast.
What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience?
So far? My fondest Venice experience was purchasing a piece of art from a vendor on Ocean Front Walk to later receive an instagram message stating that, due to my purchase, he was able to make rent that month. His artwork is amazing, and I was humbled to have been a key purchaser for him as his artwork deserves a place on every wall.
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say?
Yes – we are up to a LOT in Venice. From the trash to the unhoused to affordable housing, there are a LOT of issues that we need to resolved together as a community. I am out to create a Venice where these issues no longer divide us but instead act as the starting point for conversation that drives effective solutions that serve us all.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?
Brian Averill – his efforts to support the Venice Heritage Museum, his run for VNC president, and his photography are all amazing reasons to spotlight him!