Tag Archives: Montreal

A Community Art Project: Before I Die

-Jamie Hershman

What do you want to do before you die?

When I first pondered the question, I kept coming up with short term goals. But, thinking in the long-term, I know what I want to do before I die: make a difference, whether that be through my story-telling, or traveling the world and working hands-on in making a difference. Who knows? All I know is before I die I want to do something meaningful that will make a difference or impact somebody else’s life for the better.

A new community art project has whole neighborhood’s pondering the question, as well. It began with artist Candy Chang turning the side of an abandoned house into a chalkboard, having many slots open for residents to share what they want to do before they die. After the death of a loved one, Chang decided she wanted to up her spirits and the spirits of her community.

With the great response and participation from Chang’s community, there have been more and more walls going up throughout the world. “Before I Die” walls have gone up in Brooklyn, NY; Montreal, Quebec; Portsmouth, NH; and Queretaro, Mexico, as well as many other places. More are in the process of going up as well within the year from Johannesburg, South Africa to Denver, Colorado and Wolverhampton University in England.

These walls allow people to write down their hopes and dreams, and all responses are taken on record. This positive community art project is inspiring people to find and follow their passions. From past responses, many want to travel the world and reconnect with old family members. The walls encourage people to truly stop and think about what is going to make them happy in life. Some responses are funny, while others are a little more serious, but all have meaning to the person who wrote them.

Other groups have started projects to encourage people to find their passions with the “before I die” phrase. A group of four guys called The Buried Life made a list of 100 things they want to do before they die and have gone on a mission to complete every item, which MTV picked up as a reality television show. The Buried Life has influenced many young people to create their own bucket lists and try to complete them.

With so much negativity in the world, these walls provide a little center of hope for those who want to believe in their dreams and for those who want to lead better lives. Chang started with just a wall, but her one idea has sprouted walls up throughout the world and has changed the normality of the day-to-day life by encouraging people to find their passions.

So now, take some time and think about it. What do you want to do before you die?