istory

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TENT CITY ON VENICE BEACH

In December 1987 Yoko Ono-Lennon, widow of Beatle John Lennon, donated $5000 to The Benefit Network for the creation of Tent City, with Ted Hayes, dubbed "Rainbow City". We sheltered and fed over 100 homeless people in surplus army tents during Christmas 1987-88, on Venice Beach, as part of our People In Need project. Then, L.A. City Council called a hasty meeting and changed a long-standing but forgotten ordinance that had allowed us to camp there in the first place!  The amended ordinance forced us to leave on Sunday,  Jan.17, 1988 during a wild, wet and windy storm-of-the-year that simply washed us away.

THE BENEFIT BUS

We used a converted 1962 Bluebird school bus, donated to The Benefit Network's People In Need Project, to house some of the homeless in Venice after Tent city.   Meals were prepared, by the homeless men living on the bus, on a small propane stove in the tiny kitchen area at the back.  Meals were then served from the back door to the homeless in one of the beach parking lots in Venice. It worked well for a short while, until the police made us take the bus of the streets - what a shame!

SAVE VENICE PAVILION

In 1989 we re-opened the Venice Beach public recreational facility, known as Venice Pavilion after a 15 year moratorium.  We also petitioned the City to halt plans for its destruction. With the help of the ACLU we were able to not only save the pavilion but open it up for public events. Since then we and other groups used the facility on a regular basis. See our Everyday is Earthday Concert series. Sadly, the Pavilion was finally demolished in April, 2000.

FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

The Benefit Network played a significant role in a movement to protect First Amendment Rights of churches, nonprofit groups, organizations, to sell their products and solicit donations on the west side of Venice Boardwalk which came to be known as the "Free Speech Zone - the battle with the City and the "Merchants of Venice" lasted three long years - we were ultimately victorious, with the help and leadership of Alliance for Survival's Jerry Rubin and the ACLU.

EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY

The Benefit Network produced a series of benefit concerts in Venice Pavilion starting with the 20th Anniversary of Earth Day, 1990 - to raise funds and awareness for homeless and environmental issues. Proceeds went to Ted Hayes' Homeless USA for the development of Genesis I Dome Village that helped and housed a multitude of homeless people over the years in downtown Los Angeles from 1993 to 2006, when the lease was not renewed.

RECORDING STUDIO

The Benefit Network had a small store front on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice  where we housed our office and  a small rehearsal/recording studio. We collected an impressive array of midi-production recording gear until we had a fully equipped analog and digital 8-track studio.  It is here that we recorded homeless artist/musician "King" Sonny Zorro's  "Millennium" album and  initiated our Starving Artists project.

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