Community groups team up to preen outer East Portland

Find out which two groups decided to take an afternoon to paint out graffiti and pick up trash. Some might call them unlikely partners …

Volunteers Austin Schaefer, Jessica Twede, Jeremiah Anderson, Alex Chappell, and Tom Barnes form one of the teams heading out for an East Portland Clean-up Day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some people moving to outer East Portland have been showing complete disregard for the area by littering. Worse, some are defacing public and private property with graffiti.

But, other residents say they’re bound and determine to make a difference – by getting together to clean things up. Such was the case on July 31, when we caught up with five of the 40 volunteers out cleaning up.

The primary partners, said Austin Schaefer – who works in Oregon Representative Jefferson Smith’s office – were MaxAction and Second Stories.

“‘MaxAction’ is a network of people to who are working to develop the MAX [Light Rail] as a community asset in East Portland,” Schaefer explained.

Pealing old posters off utility poles is part of the duty for these volunteers.

“‘Second Stories’ is a faith-based, nonprofit, community-development corporation, focused on neighborhood transformation,” added Jessica Twede, who volunteers with that organization.

Along with them was Tom Barnes, the graffiti-removal guru from the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood. “During our last effort along SE Powell Boulevard, we picked up 18 bags of trash, two televisions, and a half of a vacuum cleaner – and we were also able to clean the graffiti from SE 104th to 148th Avenue.”

These two volunteers pick up all the trash they see, as they walk west on SE Stark Street.

The groups moved quickly; some picking up trash, others cleaning off or painting over graffiti, as they cleaned up both SE Stark Street and East Burnside Street, from SE 148th to 160th Avenues.

“Already, we’ve collected three bags of trash today, and cleaned about 50 graffiti markings,” Barnes said. “It’s an ongoing effort, but it’s work that needs to be done, to increase the livability of outer East Portland.”

What can’t be cleaned can be painted, these volunteers say.

To learn more about MaxAction: CLICK HERE. And, to learn more about Second Stories: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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