I read an article recently that says although we cannot determine how people will interact or force individuals to interact, “our work is about recognizing the importance of interaction, whatever form it takes and facilitating, encouraging it and promoting it.” In coherence with this concept, I know not everyone will understand my mission to foster human connections in, what Ron Burgundy masterfully dubbed, “the whale’s V.” I have already experienced some rejection and I have barely started out on my quest.
Last weekend, I went to visit a Candy Chang “Before I Die” wall in Hillcrest. Candy Chang started this project after she lost someone very close to her. In memorial of her friend and in celebration of her life, Ms. Chang painted the side of an abandoned building in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled in the sentence, “Before I die I want to ________________.” She installed two permanent bowls to hold chalk, and people wrote in their dreams. Thankfully, the sole project became sort of a movement, and now “Before I Die” walls are popping up in medium to large-sized cities all over the country. I heard about Ms. Chang’s project and went to her website. To my delight, I discovered that for the affordable price of $100, I could order all the necessary supplies to build my own “Before I Die” wall. The site even provides step-by-step instruction on how to go about building your own wall for those interested. Ms. Chang even provides a contract you can present to the building owner, stating the purpose of the project, etc. (For more information on how to build your own wall, visit www.beforeidie.cc/. For more information on Candy Chang and the “Before I Die” project, visit http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/.) But I digress. I went to visit the wall yesterday, and I saw an mid to late-fifties couple looking at the wall. One was writing something down. I asked if I could take a picture of them looking at the wall, and they said no. To my surprise, I was a little hurt. The man said he would take my picture instead, and retrospectively, I should not have taken that personally in anyway, but I was in a point of vulnerability and was surprised that this man would not indulge my seemingly simple, no big deal request. I realized driving away from Hillcrest towards the beach, I will find many people who do not understand the purpose of this project. I will encounter people, maybe most people, who will not share an enthusiasm for this idea. But this project makes me happy, and I believe in the worthiness of the goal. Road bumps ain’t going to get me down, and I anticipate their being many more.