New Orleans
Louisiana, USA

Built by Candy Chang.
February 2011

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. When Candy Chang lost someone she loved, she went through a long period of grief and depression. With time, she felt gratitude for the time they had together and eventually she found clarity in her life by contemplating death so much. But she struggled to maintain this perspective. So with help from old and new friends, she covered the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with the sentence, “Before I die I want to _______” so anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.

It was all an experiment. By the next day the wall was entirely filled out and it kept growing. Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, straddle the International Date Line, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, live off the grid, build a school, hold her one more time, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself…  People’s hopes and dreams made her laugh out loud, tear up, and feel consolation during some of her toughest times. She understood her neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and she remembered that she is not alone as she tries to make sense of her life. The Atlantic called it, “one of the most creative community projects ever.”

After receiving many messages from people who wanted to make a wall with their community, Candy created step-by-step resources. Today, over 2,000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 70 countries thanks to passionate people around the world.


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