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GOOD 100: Meet Candy Chang, Who Believes Communities Are People Too

Candy Chang is coming to a neighborhood near you. Beginning in New Orleans and rapidly spreading to other cities worldwide, her Before I Die...

Candy Chang is coming to a neighborhood near you. Beginning in New Orleans and rapidly spreading to other cities worldwide, her Before I Die chalkboard installations, painted on the sides of dilapidated or underdeveloped structures, provide a space for anyone to anonymously share their aspirations. You can expect to see Chang’s Before I Die, the book, this Fall.
Chang uses her creativity to help cities better reflect the individuality, emotions, and beliefs of their inhabitants, combining public art with civic engagement.
Her past projects include Confessions, an installment of people’s anonymously written secrets on the Las Vegas strip, and Looking for Love Again, in which people in Fairbanks, Alaska wrote about their memories and hopes on chalkboards mounted on the side of an abandoned apartment complex.


The Philosopher's Library, Chang’s big project for 2013, will transform a Mojave Desert ghost town into a collective library, a sanctuary where people can share the stories and culture that have changed their lives.
“I'm interested in pilgrimages, sanctuaries, and the rise and fall of American boomtowns — and how these ruins can be rejuvenated into cathartic and contemplative sites where we can share the things we have learned in life,” Chang says.
The project will involve writer and designer James A. Reeves and, Chang hopes, any and all like-minded architects, engineers, builders, lawyers, writers, and community organizers. “So drop us a line if you’d like to help out,” she urges.
Chang is also working on Neighborland, an extension of her I Wish This Was project that asked residents what they would do with vacant buildings. Neighborland takes this a step further by allowing users to interact with each other about the things they want to see from their neighborhood.
“You can see what other people want and click ‘me too,’” Chang’s website explains. “Each idea has a dedicated page with a comments section to help you connect with other passionate people and organizations who want the same thing and stay updated on the issues you care about.”
Chang says they recently made the site available everywhere in the U.S. in the hopes of providing more tools for people and organizations to see, share, support, and build on community-improving ideas together.
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