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Almost six years later, the ravaging impacts of Hurricane Katrina still affect New Orleans. Candy Chang, a public installation artist, urban planner and designer, wanted to remind NOLA residents of what’s truly important. So this winter, Chang picked 900 Marigny Street, a blighted and abandoned house, as the site for an interactive public art project where residents shared their dreams, goals and aspirations … together.


Chang says on her website, “Before I Die transforms a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn about the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. It’s about improving both our physical spaces and our individual well-being,”  After just one day, the wall was entirely filled with moving (and sometimes quirky) responses. After Chang photographed and documented it, the wall was erased, cleaned and given a fresh start. It filled up again. And again. From winter into spring.


Some set personal goals … “find love”, “write a novel”, “swim without holding my nose”, “abandon all insecurities”.


Others hoped for changes in society and humanity … “adopt a child”, “see equality”, “end homelessness”. All it took was primer, chalkboard paint, stencils, chalk and permission from the proper authorities to create this uplifting forum.


In April 2011, the property acquired new ownership and will soon undergo renovations to once again turn into a beautiful NOLA home. But a construction delay in early May has kept the Before I Die wall alive and well, so if you happen to be in the city, stop by and share your thoughts.

If not, share with us what you would write on the side of this building? I’ll start…

All photos courtesy of Civic Center.


Design Inspiration

14 Responses

  1. Micheleagogo says:

    Before I die I want to travel to the Goodwood Revival with my parents and husband.

  2. Ben says:

    I really, really like the "SEE EQUALITY" one. So I'm going to say before I die, I want to see equality.

  3. Emily says:

    Before I die I want to swim or go kayaking with manatees.

  4. Alessandra Castillo says:

    Before I die I want to do SO many things.

  5. Anna_hgtv says:

    Learn to speak Spanish, make pottery, travel the world…and do a number of acts, large and small, that ease the burdens in other people's lives and bring more joy to the world.

  6. Thomas says:

    Before I die I would like to win the hgtv dream home for my wife who is always buy my side and make sure i l have a very good life .

  7. Micheleagogo says:

    Before I die I want to travel to the Goodwood Revival with my parents and husband.

  8. [...] via: NOLA: What is Important to You? Before I Die… Category: Design Tags: Before, Die…, Important, [...]

  9. Ellen says:

    Wow! What a great, inspirational article! Before I die, hmm, let's see – I would like to travel to Barcelona, learn marquetry and volunteer my time more often.

  10. Sandy Link says:

    At 65 I would like to have my first home, and keep doing for others, as I only wish would be done for me. I have always looked out for family and friends, but now I need to slow down and ask for help. I would plant a community garden and some trees.

Kayla KittsKayla is a special projects editor at HGTV.com and a co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. Kayla is an overbearing cat mom with a love for vintage-modern furniture, artisan cocktails, organizing all...


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