Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors continue to beat back graffiti, one block at a time

This isn’t a “flash-in-the-pan” effort! Find out why neighbors and business people in southern outer East Portland doggedly wipe out “tagging” wherever it pops up …

There’s hardly a foot of fence that faces outer SE Foster Road that isn’t regularly “tagged” with gang graffiti. But each bit of vandalism won’t be there for long, once the Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association (PGNA) volunteers arrive.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Several of the good people who live and work in the southern portion of outer East Portland – in Powellhurst Gilbert, one of the City’s geographically-largest neighborhoods – say they are fed up with graffiti that shows up on fences, signs and other spots in their part of town.

And, more than merely whining about the “tagging” – much of it gang related – they’re on their feet – paint rollers in hand – doing something about it.

> To view two past stories we’ve reported about graffiti clean ups in Powellhurst Gilbert, CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE.

Gary Schuyler and Terrie Casey say they volunteer during “graffiti paint-outs” like this one because they like living in a tidy neighborhood.

Simple civic pride keeps graffiti at bay
“I like to see my neighborhood being kept up,” is how a graffiti-obliterating volunteer, Terrie Casey, put it. “When people drive through our part of town, I want them to feel safe, end enjoy it like we do.”

Very few of the graffiti markings painted out, or cleaned off, have been re-marked, said the neighborhood association’s Safety Committee chair, Tom Barnes.

With paint rollers in hand, Tom Barnes and Laurie Turner also go to work on this Foster Road graffiti-laden fence.

“But here we have a lot of gang graffiti in the area to deal with,” Barnes pointed out. “We keep at it, because of the ‘broken window’ theory – if you fix a window that’s been broken by vandals, it’s much less likely to be broken again, and other windows in the area probably will not be broken. It’s the same with graffiti. When you clean graffiti off fences, especially in high traffic areas – and repaint it as quickly it is re-marked – it usually then stays clean.”

The fence on which they were working, a couple of weeks ago along outer SE Foster Road, is a good example, Barnes said. “It hasn’t been painted out. Consequently you’ll see a number of gang markings. It started with one marking. And now, here we have a fence that’s 70 feet long, and every single board on the fence has been tagged.”

Due to the large size of the neighborhood, Barnes said they’ve divided the area into quadrants. “There were 77 graffiti spots identified in this zone. In comparison to our first zone that had 222 graffiti markings, that’s a considerable reduction in graffiti.”

So far, during their regular paint-out sessions, the volunteers have cleaned up more than 50 major graffiti areas.

Using this dark brown, wood-colored paint improves the appearance of the property, eliminates graffiti, and decreases the chance it will be re-marked in the future, volunteers say.

The paint, donated by the City of Portland’s Graffiti Abatement Office, is Metro Recycled paint. “I think they call it Metro Espresso Brown. It looks really good on a wooden fence,” said Barnes. And, it has really dark coloring and good pigmentation that hides the graffiti really well. Most markers won’t show up in it!”

This kind of civic pride – in action – is just one of the reasons the City of Portland’s current holder of the Spirit of Portland Neighborhood of the Year was given to Powellhurst Gilbert.

> To learn more about the Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association, see their website: CLICK HERE.

During the this day’s Graffiti Clean-up, Donna Dionne, the manager of Love Boutique and VP of the Midway Business Association, uses special, approved cleaning agents to remove markings from this STOP sign at SE 115th and SE Harold Street.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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