An epic parking-space battle raged in front of City Hall, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.
The battle wasn’t between two motorists fighting for a prime parking spot. It was between “the dragon of smog” and “the phoenix of clean wind energy.”
That’s how Hamden High senior Kim Ullrich (pictured) described the two characters depicted in the chalk drawing she made inside a parking spot on Church Street Tuesday afternoon.
Ullrich completed the picture with the help of schoolmate Amelia Matthews, passersby, and Chris Schweitzer of the New Haven/Leon Sister City Project, the organization that commissioned the piece. The artwork is intended to bring attention to the problem of global climate change, and encourage people to attend a march on the United Nations in New York on Sept. 21.
The drawing depicts the smog dragon rising from factories and trucks, while the phoenix rises from verdant hills covered with solar panels and wind turbines, next to a river generating hydroelectric power.
The environmental message didn’t sink in with all passersby.
“It’s nice, it’s nice,” said Jamal Sumler, heading down Church Street to catch a bus to Wallingford. He said the drawing made him think of “free will” and “inspiration.”
“Not bad,” said Andre R. He said it made him think of taking a stroll on a beautiful day and looking up to see a bird flying overhead.
“It looks like Hamden versus New Haven,” said Markees Smith. The clean, green part is Hamden, he said. The dirty city is New Haven.
“It’s like he’s trying to kill people,” Karen Brackeen said, pointing at the smog dragon, “and he’s saving everyone.”
“It looks like the dove wants to make everything cleaner,” Smith said.
Brackeen and her friend, Lavonna Williams, said the mural inspired them to keep the city green. “This is the town you live in, so why not clean it?” Brackeen asked.
After the muralists departed, cars moved in to occupy the space. The organizers had rented the spot for the day, with a bag over the meter. But that didn’t stop people from idling there, quietly burning fossil fuels and releasing exhaust up into the atmosphere while the dragon and the phoenix battled under their tires.