Community Initiative “Before I Die” Wall Brings People Together
From afar it looks like this chaos of chalk-written scribbles on a forgotten wall along the street.
But as I curiously walk closer to the unkempt doodles of blue, green, pink and white chalk on the charcoal brick wall, I notice phrases emerge in the mess.
“Make others feel less alone”
“Explore the world”
“Start a nonprofit”
These are all lifetime goals documented by the public, for the public, on a “Before I die…” chalk wall in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Chalk walls just like one have been popping up on streets around the globe – engaging and inspiring people as they stroll on by.
It’s like every one of us has a little artist inside just begging to come out too just shaping our lives and actions into our own work of art.
The Before I Die interactive public art project invites people to freely share their dreams with each other while creating, and recreating, a community art piece.
These oversized chalk walls, an artistic initiative, all started with Candy Change and an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood. Today there are more than 1,000 Before I Die walls spread throughout at least 70 countries and written in more than 35 languages.
Public artwork that gets the community engaged has a special place in my heart –but facing that wall was a little intimidating at first.
“What do I really want to do before I die?” I asked myself.
Well, that’s such a general question that it’s pretty difficult to answer.
I want to do a lot of things throughout my life. I pondered on this question for quite some time as I realized how much this wall challenged my self-reflection.
It tested me to narrow down all my desires and really conclude: What do I want out of life? What’s important to me? What do I want to leave behind at the end of my life? What experiences are the most valuable?
As I tried to visualize my answers to these, they sometimes seemed unachievable. But right there adorned on this scribbled wall of colorful chaos are dreams of those who walk among me. As I see that their dreams are achievable, I realize that mine are, too.
And so I’ll ask, what do you want to do before you die?
All shots were taken by Katrina Poggio.