Oct. 29, 2014

What do you want to do before you die?

It’s a simple question, and one you’ve certainly considered in quiet moments as you’ve shuttled under the bay on BART or looked out over the Pacific at the top of Mt. Tam. But the question’s simplicity belies the intimacy of sharing those desires in a public place, even anonymously.

The New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang came up with the idea, a wall where people share what is important to them, after losing someone close to her. She wanted to remind herself and others of what really matters, especially when the mundanity of the workday grind makes it difficult to maintain that perspective. The wall was immediately successful, and since then Chang has created a set of tools and resources for anyone to bring a “Before I Die” wall to their community. The wall has been recreated in over 30 languages and 60 countries since 2011.

San Francisco’s installment of the wall was brought to PROXY by Hayes Valley neighbor The Bold Italic. ¬†Chang is the keynote speaker for their upcoming conference The Sum, which they “sum up” (groan) as an event that “will empower guests to see themselves, their work, their free time, and their city from fresh angles, giving them the tools and the inspiration to collectively boost their creative output”.

PROXY has long been a fan of Chang’s work; it aims to shift a person’s relationship to a place by encouraging them to participate in the community, if only briefly. In this way, the wall supports PROXY’s guiding principles of leveraging the notion of the temporary to pull people into the present moment and inserting moments of serendipity and delight throughout the city for all to experience.

Stop by the corner of Linden and Octavia before November 8th to join in the hundreds of others who have shared their dreams, wishes and hopes for what’s on the horizon.

All photos by Sierra Hartman for The Bold Italic.