Just over three years ago, my husband and some of his junior high school English students constructed the first Before I Die Wall to be hung in Southwest Idaho. The wall is a global art project that invites people to reflect on life and share their personal aspirations in public.
After we constructed our wall in our small rural Idaho town, I wrote a blog post about it.
Our chalkboard black, wooden wall has weathered the storm of three long hot summers and very cold winters. It’s holding up quite well. The board, situated smack in the middle of our tiny town, for the most part has been respected but sometimes we get the occasional jerk writing some graffiti or something very negative. The students, now Freshmen and Sophomores, monitor the board and promptly remove the bad stuff.
This past summer, a couple of locals suggested that it should be removed, thinking it had run its course. After talking to the business owners that graciously allowed us to put the wall up on their storefront, as well as to the students, they all said “keep the wall!” They loved having it. They said it was “positive for the community” and they personally like to see what locals or tourists passing through write on it. It’s a way to understand your neighbors.
The wall will stay up a little longer.
I try to clean the chalk off at least once a month with a couple of damp wet towels, and I also replenish the pastel colored chalk supply. The powdery chalk is easy to remove but sometimes it’s hard to erase all the anonymous intimate personal aspirations that some people carefully and cautiously got up the courage to write. A new clean blank slate is a must to allow others the opportunity to engage.
My desire is that some of the people will actually obtain these now erased dreams. It’s funny, but once you write something on the wall you almost feel a sense of guilt not trying to obtain them. I’ve written on it a few times in the past three years. Fly-fish in Patagonia, Ride my bicycle across Oregon, overcoming my fear of deep water, visit Florence, Italy…hmm, we’ll see?
Since the recent election, it seems a lot of people including myself are feeling unsettled, fearful, and unsure of what the future might bring. It gives me hope to drive through town a couple of days later after cleaning the wall to see the once empty, stencil lined chalk board filled up again with positive messages for the future.
Below are writings from the past three months. A lot of nice things and some funny ones. Humor is great, I love it. There is hope in our tiny community and the world.