Photo Gallery | 'Before I Die Wall' To Be Taken Down In D.C.
As I was walking through D.C. yesterday, I stumbled upon a wall full of chalk on 14th and Q streets NW. This wasn’t just any chalkboard; it was a billboard size social art display placed outside of an old Laundromat, which is being renovated into a French restaurant by Philadelphia restaurateur, Stephen Starr.
In big, bold letters the chalkboard had three powerful words: “Before I die…,” giving people the opportunity to express their personal desires publicly.
I found this wall, which featured a variety of different languages including Arabic, English, and Spanish, to be captivating and unique in one of our city’s fastest growing dining corridors. In a course of an hour I observed 25 people stopping by to answer the question.
This will be the last few days to take advantage of this popular "Before I die…" wall that has been up since May, as it’s expected to come down this week as renovation to the future restaurant advances.
“This wall benefits the community and sparks a sense of unity with the comments and array of languages,” explained D.C. artist, Emily Biondo.
Upon learning the back-story of this wall, I became even more intrigued.
D.C. resident, Thomas Moore, lost his grandmother in 2010 and desperately wanted to pay tribute to her in a proper form. I, too, lost my mom in 2008, and can relate to the struggles he faced.
After reading a New York Times article about “giving circles,” Moore decided to create one of his own with nine of his friends. Moore gave each of his friends $100, and instructed them to give back to the community in a creative way. One friend sent the money to Burma where she was born, and another friend gave the money to a shelter in Baltimore for immigrant women. Sophie, who is responsible for the wall, bought a stencil, wood, and chalkboard paint, and before she left for grad school, put up the wall on an early morning in May.
“What’s great about this wall is that you see people stop, pause, and reflect on other people’s hopes and desires,” said Moore. “It’s a nice expression of D.C., and a testament to the international feel we have here. It’s remarkable to see people read for 5-10 minutes and sometimes add their innermost wish.”
There are hard hitting emotional desires posted on this wall, such as: “Have my father accept my sexuality,” “Fall in love with my husband,” “Learn to forgive,” as well as lighter topics, such as: “Ride my bike without training wheels,” “Run faster than Usain Bolt,” and “Interrupt Kanye West.”
Since the wall has only a few days left, I hope that you can stop by and share your life dreams, or just stand and admire the ambitions of others.