Annual cleanup event gets boost from APEC preps

Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz
Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz
Tim Johns
Tim Johns

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Asia-Pacific Economic Forum 2011 meetings are just two weeks away. And when delegates are attending sessions at the Hawaii Convention Center, they'll have one less thing to look at: graffiti on the walls at a nearby parking lot.

The lot is less than a block away from the convention center. And the graffiti was being painted over Saturday morning by a group that included Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz.

"These are sort of the finishing touches," Schatz said. "We have almost a thousand volunteers throughout the community, making sure that every piece of property looks the best it can possibly look."

The volunteers were at similar cleanups in the Kapahulu area, McCully and Moiliili. They tried to ensure that when APEC delegates are taking in the view, they won't see tagging or litter, especially when they're looking through the convention center's glass walls.

The effort isn't new. The group Totally Against Graffiti has been involved in fighting tagging, and Saturday's cleanup has been an annual event.

"This effort's been going on for a few years," said Tim Johns, executive vice chair of the APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee. "The TAG, Totally Against Graffiti folks, have been working with HPD and the larger community to really take care of this, and it will be an ongoing effort."

While the walls have been cleared of graffiti for now, and APEC is only two weeks away, that's still a lot of time for taggers to fill what's now a blank canvas. Schatz said the host committee will try its best to keep things clean.

"We're going to continue our work all the way up until the moment APEC starts," he said. "But you know, the truth is, you can't have everything perfect. What you can do is work really hard to present yourselves in the best possible way."

Schatz also said such cleanups should be the norm, even after APEC leaves.

"We did it for the purpose of APEC, but now we've learned that we can, if we apply ourselves, solve some pretty big problems and prepare for some pretty big things if we all work together," Schatz said.

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