Building the Bridges of Community

To paraphrase, Walt Whitman once said that whether made of mud huts or skyscrapers, the greatest city in the world is the one where the greatest minds reside. It is the people, the community that we build and bring together which gives a place its value.

As poets, we have a very important role to play in this, for it is through poetry which we strive for that greatness in ourselves – the best possible version of who we can be. Poetry lifts our imaginations and unites us on both higher and deeper levels of understanding.

The importance of poetry cannot be over-estimated in our lives. It’s on the wings of poetry which empires have risen and crumbled. It’s from poetry, our longest standing form of communication, dating back to the very inception of mankind, that our greatest and most influential ideas have sprung forth and taken root.

It can rightfully be said that poetry is the voice of our very existence. For poetry is the common link between all peoples and nations. It dissolves borders and connects us all together.

So, as poets, we have a special opportunity to connect the greatest minds in our communities together and build the relationships and bridges between all our communities around the world … through poetry … so that as one humanity, we can rise to our best and fullest potential.

On January 19th, the Venice Neighborhood Council took the first step towards realizing that goal of reaching our greatest potential by launching the Community Bridges Initiative Task Force, to be headed up by Venice poet, Mark Lipman, who will be coordinating with the rest of our Venice community to build bridges with communities across the country and around the world to Venice – through poetry and the arts, making those cultural connections which strengthen relationships and brings people together.

The Task Force will look to create groups of Poet Ambassadors from Venice to travel to other cities to represent our community, while also bringing groups of poets from other communities here to Venice for a series of cultural exchanges. In the longer term, the Task Force will also work to build support and the infrastructure for a Venice International Poetry Festival, to host major events throughout our Venice community to welcome poets and artists from around the world.

The first meeting of the Community Bridges Initiative will take place on Monday, February 8th, 7pm at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291. All are welcome to attend and participate.

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