Brain Pickings

Before I Die: Reclaiming Urban Aspiration

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I love the work of artist, designer and TED Fellow Candy Chang. Today, I caught up with her at TED 2011, where she shared her brilliant new project in New Orleans: Before I Die I Want To — an abandoned house turned into a giant chalkboard, on which people share their deepest existential aspirations.

I never expected such an amazing outpouring of responses so quickly. Within 24 hours, the entire wall was completely filled out. And the responses range from humorous to overwhelmingly thoughtful — from ‘be a YouTube sensation’ to ‘go 200 mph’ to ‘be completely myself.’ I hear that people are gathering at the house and it’s stopping traffic. I’m blown away.” ~ Candy Chang

The notion of turning neglected space into an active invitation to engage with your community and get to know your neighbors is a wonderful embodiment of enlightened urbanism. What’s more, it’s a reminder that not all meaningful social platforms are accessed through a screen — an inspired antidote to the Foursquarification of urban social quasi-interaction.

For live coverage of TED 2011 this week, follow my Twitter feed and check Brain Pickings nightly for exclusive photos and speaker quotes. And don’t miss this primer of 5 must-read books by TED 2011 speakers.

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