Tina Brandon and her husband, Gary Schwartz, moved to the Valley from Los Angeles a decade ago because they “had a dream of living in a beautiful place on a little woody road,” she said. Their vision became reality in North Bend, where they fell in love with the small city’s charms and became involved in the community. Brandon took over organizing the parade for the Festival at Mount Si, an activity she likens to “throwing a really huge party.” But something was amiss.
“We put all this effort into having a really great festival in town, and I noticed some graffiti downtown. It was there quite a while, and it bothered me,” Brandon said. “It’s so sad to see this little town with big ugly graffiti.”
In L.A., spray paint on the walls is just part of life, but Brandon found the juxtaposition of graffiti with North Bend’s quaintness to be jarring, and she was concerned that the problem would snowball. So she started painting over it.
“I’m just trying to prevent things from getting out of hand, because one person does it, and another person does it, and then, before you know it, it’s just a big mess.”
To avoid that mess, Brandon donates her time to cover the graffiti, and will even buy paint if property owners can’t afford it. Brandon urges graffiti victims to report incidents to police, who will photograph and analyze the tagging. Then property owners should quickly cover it up so others won’t be encouraged to spread the blight.
She learned from police that the culprits are usually “just kids, but there have been gang issues, as well, and you just need to take care of it right away.”
She’s kept an eye on the several buildings she has painted.
“So far, the buildings that I’ve taken care of have stayed in good shape, so that’s encouraging,” she said.
For now, her goal is to get the word out to property owners that help is available. She launched a Web site, www.tina-brandon.com, to help people contact her and learn more about her “Paint the Town” brigade.
Also on the site is information about Brandon’s various other community service projects, including the parade, an October haunted house that will celebrate its fifth year next month, and Valley Center Stage, the community theater that her husband runs.
“She is a volunteer extraordinaire,” wrote Wanda Boe in an e-mail nominating Brandon for Citizen of the Week. “She really deserves recognition for all that she does for our community.”
Brandon says she’s just doing what comes naturally to her.
“I like to complain, and say, ‘Someone should do that, take care of that, pick up that garbage.’ Then I realized, I’m somebody — maybe I should be doing it. So I’m trying to do more of those things.”
• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to email@example.com, or call (425) 888-2311.