When the Utica Home Ownership Center conducted a community survey a few years ago, they were surprised to discover that citywide, residents' greatest concern was graffiti. As a result, the City of Utica launched Graffiti Busters, a strategy that leverages residents to remove graffiti and replace graffiti hotspots with community-driven murals. To jumpstart this work, Utica's Graffiti Busters includes a Day of Action, held annually on or around the day of the year with the most daylight hours, to give back to the local community. The City of Utica collaborates with local partners to mobilize new and current resident volunteers, inspire existing supporters, and encourage members of the community to take pride in the city and give back all year.
Graffiti Busters has had a unifying effect among Utica's diverse communities, including involving the city's significant refugee population in the volunteer work. To develop the community-based murals in place of graffiti, a local artist gathered input from each neighborhood's youth residents and incorporated illustrations of real people from the community to highlight Utica's diversity.
"We want to bring the hope back to them. This city is a great area. We have great people out there, and we want people to feel safe and we want it to be clean for them."Mayor Rob Palmieri