by YOUNG KWAK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & "I & lt;/span & walked by it all the time and got tired of seeing it." Shane Maggart, a 21-year-old urban planning major at EWU, decided that the graffiti in his downtown Spokane neighborhood needed to be removed.
Maggart, a Spokane native, has lived downtown since October. When the weather finally warmed up this spring, he got into action.
Using white and gray primer, Maggart painted over graffiti on one side of the train bridge overpass on Madison Street between First and Second avenues. He plans on covering up the graffiti on the other side soon and even sweeping up the litter on the sidewalks along the underpass.
"It's my neighborhood and I have to take care of it," he says. He doesn't want visitors seeing the unattractive side of where he lives.
So far, he has received positive response from some of the people in the area while painting over graffiti. Some kids who were just hanging out in the neighborhood told Maggart that they appreciated how somebody was taking care of the graffiti -- and asked him to remove some spray-painted racist epithets.
Just a few days after Maggart began the work on the Madison underpass, of course, graffiti sprouted up elsewhere. But Maggart plans on continuing to live downtown, even after graduation. And he plans to continue cleaning up the graffiti and litter in his neighborhood.
A graduate of Gonzaga Prep and formerly a resident of the northwest part of Spokane, Maggart applauds Spokane's downtown revitalization effort over the past decade or so. He just wants to do his part.
"Image is a big part of this," he says. "If I can clean it up and make it more appealing and make people want to come down [downtown], that's what I want to do."
While Maggart started college at Gonzaga as a civil engineering major, he always knew that he wanted to study urban planning -- partly because he had witnessed Spokane's downtown revitalization and partly because of his commitment to community development. Specifically, he wants to be involved in multi-use development downtown, with residential units upstairs and storefronts on the first floor.
He wants "to use urban planning to put Spokane on the map even more" while retaining the city's small-town feel. In addition, he values the availability of low-income housing and would like to develop downtown Spokane in a way that would be inclusive for lower-income residents.
In recent years, he has seen government and businesses improving downtown, and he regards that as validation and inspiration for the cleanup he's doing in his own neighborhood.