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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 10, 2006

Volunteers ready to do battle with graffiti

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Commuters waiting for their bus ride are greeted by a graffiti-covered bus shelter on Kapi'olani Boulevard near Ke'eaumoku Street, fronting Pet's Discount. A community cleanup on Saturday will paint over the graffiti between Kalakaua Avenue and Pi'ikoi Street.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Following the example of the Hui Malama Citizens Patrol from Kalakaua Homes, 'Ewa Weed & Seed volunteers started their own "adopt-a-bus stop" campaign to reclaim and protect areas in their community from acts of vandalism.

Groups from Kalihi Baptist Church and the Kuhio Community Coalition and Youth Patrol, meanwhile, have been actively doing graffiti and trash cleanups in Kalihi and Kalihi Valley.

Their individual efforts are examples of the seeding aspect of the Weed & Seed strategy.

On Saturday, they'll be helping to kick off a bigger seeding initiative called "Neighborhood Kokua," which seeks a two-year commitment from groups to adopt pockets in their respective communities.

Melissa Chun, a program specialist for Parents and Children Together's Family Center Services who is helping coordinate Saturday's cleanup in Kalihi, said most people think of Weed & Seed only in terms of its increased policing efforts and harsher sentences.

"But many who live and work in Weed & Seed communities have learned the strategy is not just about weeding negative elements out," Chun said. "Weed & Seed involves much more extensive coordination to seed positive activities and support services that strengthen the community once it is cleaned up."

"Neighborhood Kokua" is being coordinated in three areas: Ala Moana/Sheridan, Kalihi/Kalihi Valley and 'Ewa.

"Each project area is coordinating something specific to address the neighborhood blight issues in their community," said Reina Miyamoto, a Central YMCA and Weed & Seed volunteer who is handling the Sheridan/Ala Moana effort and coordinating the entire project. "Taking ownership of an area and addressing issues as they arise ... builds that connection we're looking for in our communities to improve safety and reduce restoration problems."

Gale Braceros, who is coordinating the 'Ewa effort, added that the objective is to "facilitate community involvement and empower residents and businesses to take back their neighborhoods so healthy, safe living can flourish."

Saturday's "Neighborhood Kokua" projects will involve:

  • Kalihi/Kalihi Valley. Kalihi Baptist Church will do a graffiti paintout along Likelike Highway and near Gulick and Leilani streets, while Palama Settlement's Island Youth, a Polynesian dance group, will clean areas around Mayor Wright Homes and Palama Settlement. In addition, Kuhio Community Coalition and Youth Patrol, organized in March, has adopted the area from Gulick to Middle Street near Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes. TJ Mahoney & Associates has also adopted an area while Kalihi Ahupua'a Ulu Pono Ahahui, Kai Makana and the the city have organized cleanups of Kalihi Stream.

  • Ala Moana/Sheridan. The Hui Malama Citizens Patrol will be cleaning Makiki Stream near the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and South King Street, while graffiti paintouts and trash cleanup will be ongoing on Kapi'olani Boulevard between Kalakaua Avenue and Pi'ikoi Street and elsewhere depending on the number of volunteers.

  • 'Ewa. The cleanup focus Saturday will be at the underpass on Fort Weaver Road to 'Ewa Villages; Ocean Pointe to the Boys & Girls Club on Fort Weaver Road, and on North Road from Kulana Villages to Kaimiloa Elementary School.

    Anyone wishing to join the volunteer groups can call Miyamoto at 223-5171, Chun at 792-9740 or Braceros at 689-4182, ext. 305.

    Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.