Coordinated attack on graffiti continues in Powellhurst-Gilbert

Neighbors and business people agree – the graffiti has got to go. See how they’re taking on the daunting challenge of wiping clean their section of outer SE Portland of unsightly public nuisance markings …

Tom Barnes, chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association Safety Committee starts painting over a fence once covered with graffiti, with the help of a reformed “tagger”, Tim Lauer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Identifying and mapping out more than 300 sites “tagged” with graffiti in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood in outer SE Portland was the first step volunteers took to combat visual blight in their part of town.

> Read how this project got started: CLICK HERE.

Now, every month, both the neighbors from their association and business people from the Midway Business Association get together to paint out graffiti on fences, mail boxes, and other visible areas.

Systemized plan of attack
“We’ve broken the neighborhood down into six different zones,” reported Tom Barnes, Chair of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association Safety Committee.

“We’re working through the zones, month by month. In a half-year, we will have covered the most noticeable graffiti. By doing paint-out projects, like this, every month, there will soon be very little graffiti visible here in our area.”

Reformed tagger helps out
Barnes had help, when we caught up with him at a paint-out. Tim Lauer, a former juvenile graffiti offender, helped out by grabbing a paint roller and erasing graffiti left by others.

“Graffiti doesn’t make a neighborhood to look more attractive,” admitted Lauer. “It leads to more crime and disrespect for the neighborhood. That isn’t good.”

On the bright side, the young man added, “I get to paint fences and now I don’t in trouble.”

Midway Business Association VP Donna Dionne gives an often-marked fence a clean look with a fresh coat of paint on SE Harold Street.

“In one session, a group of a dozen volunteers can clean up a bunch of mailboxes and power/traffic signal boxes, fences, and backs of street signs,” observed the neighborhood business association VP, Donna Dionne of Love Boutique.

“We’ll also paint out lots of fencing – that goes pretty fast,” Dionne added. “We’ve isolated all the problem areas, we think, and it should be easier next time we come around to make sure that they stay painted out.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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