Armed with a Master’s in business journalism from New York University, she has written exclusive stories and features on topics that land on the intersection of business and human interest for digital platforms in the US and India. She has also worked with The Economic Times as a financial market correspondent for three years.
Latest posts by Ruchira Roy (see all)
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- 10 Most Moving Pulitzer-Winning Photos That Show What The Human Spirit Is Capable Of - May 18, 2017
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A neighborhood that shares its thoughts and deeper reflections freely through collaborative public art or any other form of expression is bound to be a happy neighborhood, right? But it takes an altogether different dimension of sharing when we start contemplating on matters of life and death. This is what Before I Die Project is all about.
Started in February 2011 by creative artist Candy Chang in New Orleans, U.S., the project has become a global participatory public art movement, spreading rapidly across 76 countries in 38 languages with 2000 Before I Die Walls, indicating the popularity of a very simple yet meaningful community art project where people contemplate death and in that context, what their real priorities, aspirations, hopes, and desires are, by writing on a huge board of a wall.
Thoughts shared by people range from funny, hilarious to poignant and full of warmth. From wanting to run for the office to making up with a loved one or wanting to meet the love of their lives one last time, or wanting to be ‘tried for piracy’, what people want to accomplish before the life ends gives them a thorough perspective on what their lives should have been about or can still be.
The first Before I Die wall came up on an abandoned property in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang after the death of a loved one. And just like that, the wall became a space for people to scribble their wishes and afterthoughts. “This neglected space became a constructive one and peoples’ hopes and dreams made me laugh out loud and tear up and consoled me during my own tough times,” Candy Chang said in a TED talk she gave on September 13, 2013, “It is about knowing you are not alone. It is about understanding your neighbors. It is about making space for reflection and contemplation and remembering what really matters.”
How does the project, nothing absolutely unprecedented, help resolve any of the existential problems of human life? Or does it at all? How does scribbling words on a wall help fight the war, racism, greed, crime, and poverty that engulf the planet? It is the context that gives meaning to this project. We don’t need social psychology experts to show us that sharing, be it thoughts or resources, is an exercise in building stronger and more affectionate bonds. This is the reason why commune living in Denmark is said to make it one of the happiest societies in the world. A project like ‘Before I Die’ becomes more important in societies and countries that see nothing else but conflict and violence or even natural calamities frequently. Such projects work like adhesive in knitting people together through public art and creativity. That’s no mean feat in a divisive world.
“Candy Chang and writer James A. Reeves have developed this space to examine our common anxieties, contemplate mortality, and better understand what it means to be human”, the project website is quoted as saying.
Before I Die – Wall Toolkit
Having learned from the hurdles she faced in building a wall in New Orleans, from getting permissions from civic authorities to getting the wall its prominence, Chang has come up with an easy to use toolkit on how to make a ‘Before I Die’ wall in any neighborhood. Now walls have come up in countries like Kazakhstan, South Africa, Australia and Argentina to name a few. It is one of the most economical ways of self-expression. All you need is a wall and some chalks!
“Together we showed how powerful our public spaces can be, given the opportunity to have a voice and share more of one another,” Chang said in the talk, “Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships. In our age of increasing distractions, it’s more important than ever to find ways to maintain perspective, remember that life is brief and tender. Death is something that we are often discouraged to talk about or think about but I realized that preparing for death was one of the most empowering things you can do. Thinking about death clarifies your life. Our shared spaces can better reflect what matters to us as individuals and as a community with more ways to share our hopes, views, and stories, people around us can help not only make better places, they can help us lead better lives.”
We All Should…
The Key To Your Happiness…
Go. Tell Them…
If It Makes You Happy…
Wish We Really Could…
Why Not? It’s Good For Health…
All quotes & images are from Before I Die. Visit the site.
Tell Us What You Want To Do Before You Die…
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