Businesspeople team with neighbors

You’ll be amazed to learn how many ‘tags’ this dedicated crew cleaned off surfaces in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood …

Midway Business Association VP Donna Dionne of The Love Boutique, works with David Edwards of Edwards Insurance Agency, as they paint out graffiti along SE 122nd Avenue.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
By carefully planning out their strategy, a group of 30 volunteers from the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood (PGNA) and the Midway Business Association (MBA) teamed up to get rid of some of the most offensive graffiti in outer Southeast Portland a couple of Saturday mornings ago.

“We got involved in the project because we want to help ‘put a good face’ on our part of town, by removing graffiti from the area,” explained Midway Business Association VP Donna Dionne.

Graffiti devalues an area, Dionne explained. “As a business association, we want people to know that they can feel safe in our neighborhood, and safe to come into our businesses. We want those who are doing this [graffiti] to know that they’re not welcome here.”

At Raymond Park, Dolores Wood, Chair of the neighborhood’s Greening Committee, trims back bushes, allowing Judy and Tom Barnes to paint out graffiti.

 

Neighborhood association volunteers Ernest Wood, Shemia Fagan – she’s Chair of their Membership Committee – and Bob Golleher, a member of their SRS Bike Patrol, paint out another fence in Raymond Park.

Tackling a big job
“We’re working in conjunction with Marcia Dennis of the Graffiti Abatement Program for the City of Portland,” said Tom Barnes, Chair of the Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association’s Public Safety Committee. “Donna and Marcia identified more than 300 sites tagged with graffiti. We’re panting out the most visible ones.”

Armed with buckets of Metro’s recycled paint, Barnes said the group broke into squads. Within a couple of hours, they all rendezvoused at Pizza Baron, to check in with one another.

“We’re running out of paint,” Barnes said. “We’ve painted out tags in parks, others on utility poles along the street, on traffic signal boxes, on fences and public mail drop-off boxes.”

But the good news, Barnes added, is that these diligent anti-graffiti artists painted out over half of the identified sites – about 150 locations.

By taking this action, Barnes added, “We’re showing everyone that this is a neighborhood that cares. We’re not going to stand by and let vandals destroy the neighborhood by defacing it with graffiti.”

Dionne chimed in, “We’re telling the taggers that we’re taking a stand, and we’re taking back our neighborhood.”

 

MBA affiliates Dick Kemp and Bob Hartsock from American Legion # 1 – “The Service Post” – are demonstrating, by their volunteer labor, that they believe in their club’s motto.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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