By Myra Klockenbrink, Co-Chair, Greenwich Pollinator Pathway
What is the Mural Project?
The MURAL PROJECT, located on East Putnam Avenue across from the Greenwich High School football stadium, is a mural depicting pollinators and their habitat at the bus stop at Overlook Drive. The project includes an installation inside the bus shelter of printed panels to educate people about the mission of the pollinator pathway, pollinators and native plants. A demonstration pollinator garden to be planted next to the mural and a time lapse video created of the entire project accessible through a QR code are part of the overall project.
What organizations are responsible for the project and why?
The Mural Project was commissioned by the Conservation Commission of the Town of Greenwich in partnership with Greenwich Pollinator Pathway. Together they collaborated with the Greenwich Botanical Center (501c3) to crowd fund for the project.
The mural forwards the environmental education charge of the CONSERVATION COMMISSION through presentations, documents and resources that help educate people on the environment. Through its oversight of the Pollinator Pathway program the Conservation Commission was pleased to celebrate the Board of Selectman Resolution proclaiming Greenwich a Pollinator Friendly Community. The endorsement coincided with Earth Day 2021 and the mural is meant to celebrate that commitment.
POLLINATOR PATHWAY is a grassroots organization in over 200 municipalities in the Northeast that establishes pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife. Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. In the U.S. more than 90 crop species require pollination with honey bees supplying $15 billion in pollinator services each year. Researchers have documented from 2000-2017, and more frequently since 2017, large population declines among moths, beetles, bees, butterflies. This loss threatens the populations of other wildlife, especially birds.
GREENWICH POLLINATOR PATHWAY has many members and fans from the garden and conservation community. In order to reach out to more residents unfamiliar with the threat to pollinator habitat and inspire them to provide habitat in their yards, a mural was conceived to broadcast this message. The Mural Project is in keeping with the First Selectmen’s goal of beautifying the landscape with public art. The mural helps to fulfill the 2019 Plan of Conservation & Development Action under Objective One making Greenwich a destination for world class public art.
The mural helps to carry out the mission of GREENWICH BOTANICAL CENTER to promote “horticulture, conservation and the arts through educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.”
How much will the project cost and who is paying for it?
Through the Greenwich Botanical Center $17,500 was raised from 72 donors. A matching grant of $7,500 was provided by Sustainable CT, bringing the total to $25,000 in private money to fund the project. The Town will incur ZERO cost for the project installation and upkeep. This collaboration is an example of the kind of public-private partnership that Greenwich has embraced.
Who is painting the mural?
︎︎An extensive search, including an RFP, for a local muralist with a professional background and portfolio, was conducted. No suitable candidate was found in Greenwich, but a fantastic professional muralist from nearby Newburgh was chosen. Nelson Rivas, an internationally recognized artist, has the experience to install a first-rate mural that highlights our pollinators and the native plants wildlife depends on. Mr. Rivas’ work is currently on exhibition at the Bendheim Gallery through the Greenwich Arts Council. The plants depicted in the mural are native to our area in their natural colors.
Is Greenwich High School Involved?
︎︎A team of GREENWICH HIGH SCHOOL students was assembled through the Director of the Art Department and they met with Greenwich Pollinator Pathway to learn about the importance of pollinator habitat and the power of art to communicate ideas. Part of the project was to enlist the students to help with the installation of the mural under the direction of the artist.
Why a mural?
Public art instills community pride and raises awareness of important community issues like environmental stewardship. Public art also makes the community a destination, bringing life and focus to an explicit community goal, providing all members direct and ongoing encounters with art, no admission fee needed. Public art stimulates learning and encourages people to pay closer attention to the environment they occupy.
Public art helps to establish a cultural scene that is more attractive to individuals and businesses, all the while enriching our developed landscape. For every dollar spent on public art, $6 in revenue is generated in the local economy. Our neighbor towns, Darien, Ridgefield and Fairfield, are all taking advantage of the benefits of murals.
How will the mural be maintained?
The mural will be sealed with an anti-graffiti coating and washed every six months or as needed to keep it clean and vibrant.
When will the mural be completed?
The Mural Project was halted in early May pending a September 27 RTM vote to approve it. The mural is about 25% complete. Estimated time to finish the mural, weather permitting, is one week. According to the Memo of Understanding drawn up by the Conservation Commission in April, the mural will be in place for two years. At that point it could be decided to extend the installation or to remove it. ︎︎ ︎︎︎ ︎ ︎︎
Will this mural lead to a proliferation of murals all through town?
The mural passed through numerous hurdles to get approval, was reviewed by DPW and P&Z and was endorsed unanimously by the Board of Selectmen and the Town Sustainability Committee. The State Department of Transportation had to approve of the mural before issuing a permit that was needed since the mural is along a State corridor. It took six months to usher the project through this process and the entire project has now taken nearly a year. If the Town wishes to exert greater control over any future murals, it can codify the procedures for securing approval through an ordinance change.
A video of the entire mural can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/615119195
The RTM will be taking up the topic of the pollinator pathway mural at their meeting, Monday evening, Sept 27.
Here is the link to speaker sign up sheet. Item 5 is the mural.
Deadline to sign up is Monday, September 27 at 12:00 noon.