The Keep Cuenca Beautiful campaign to eliminate graffiti is gaining momentum as local radio, tv and newspapers report on its progress. At last count, more than 400 expats and Cuencanos have participated in cleaning mingas or have signed up for future ones.
According to one of Keep Cuenca Beautiful’s organizers, J.T. Neira, interviews on Radio Tomebamba and television station Unsion have enlisted more Cuencanos in the anti-graffiti project started by expats. A Tuesday photo feature in the El Tiempo newspaper provided additional coverage.
According to Neira and Susan Burke March, who manages the Keep Cuenca Beautiful Facebook page, coordination problems with Cuenca city government have been resolved and graffiti removal is well-underway. “After our interview on Radio Tomebamba, we received the approval from the city to begin our work,” Neira says. The city, which agreed to partner with Keep Cuenca Beautiful three months ago, has obtained a donation of paint from the local Sherwin-Williams distributor for the project.
Participants in the clean-up and painting mingas are focusing efforts in the historic district in the early stages of the campaign, says March. “We plan to expand to other areas of the city later,” she says.
According to Neira, the success of Keep Cuenca Beautiful depends not only on the short-term goal of removing the graffiti but on long-term monitoring to keep it from returning. “First, we clean and repaint the walls on public and private property, including churches and schools,” he says. “Just as important, we are organized so that the volunteers who do the initial clean-up will keep an eye on their space and return, if necessary, to remove new graffiti.”
Neira adds that he is especially pleased to see so many locals volunteering for the clean-up efforts. “Cuencanos now make up the majority our volunteers,” he says.
For more information and to volunteer for Keep Cuenca Beautiful, go to the Facebook page.