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"Before I Die" wall up in Larryville

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

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The “Before I Die I Want to ­______________” wall in Lawrenceville is up and generating comments in chalk at 40th and Butler streets near Arsenal Elementary and Middle School.

Robert Thornton of Mount Washington and D’Onna Stubblefield of Lawrenceville initiated this iteration of the public art project that Pittsburgh-born artist and urban planner Candy Chang introduced on the side of an abandoned house in New Orleans last year.

Rob and D’Onna raised more than $1,500 on Kickstarter.com to do the wall .beforeidie2

“In the past two weeks we received some excellent responses on the wall,” Rob wrote in an email. These photos are courtesy of him.

“Some of our favorites were: Before I die I want to “Save a Life,” “Stay true to myself,” “Instal a community public art project that makes you stop” and “Love.”

“We are planning to install this project throughout the summer of 2012 and we may do a remix board in which we change the word Die to something creative.”

Someone's wish is to "eat the rich" before he or she dies. Some responses are obviously more political than authentic

Among my favorites are "wake up tomorrow" and "talk to ghosts."

The way I figure it is you can talk to ghosts. The trick is to get them to talk back to you.

Then there's the prospect that after you die, you probably get the password that lets you talk to ghosts all the time.

 I once lived in a house whose ghost was believed by previous owners to be the upstanding man -- an English teacher and Baptist missionary who built the house in the late 1860s. They passed down to me their experiences with "Leonard" at our closing; every next owner gets that envelope.

I used to call out "Hi Leonard!" when I got home and "By Leonard" when I left. Even though I didn't live like a good Baptist, he never acted out against me. He did rearrange some glass bottles in a very weird way one time, maybe just to let me know he was really around, but he never got creepy on me and I only ever caught a peripheal sense of his presence once.

So... I'm still thinking about what I would write on the blank line if I could only fill it once and had to be as intentional as possible.


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