A global event supporting the Before I Die project

2012 | Chalkboard paint, chalk, communities

What if I created a global event for myself and friends around the world, with the goal of feeling connected to one another despite physical distance?

Small World Big Dreams was an invitation to my friends all over the world to create as many Before I Die walls as possible with me on the same day. Before I Die, a project started by artist Candy Chang, is an interactive community art project that asks viewers to finish the sentence: "Before I Die I want to..."

On May 5, 2012, myself and friends from Canada, the United States, Spain, Germany and Australia each created Before I Die walls. Locally, each of us felt connected in a new way to our own communities; touched, moved and inspired by the responses we saw. Globally, we felt connected to one another, knowing that wherever we were, however far from one another, we were doing the same thing on the same day, together.

* Featured in the book Small World Big Dreams by Candy Chang

Map illustration by Sarah Clement

Map illustration by Sarah Clement

Technology connects us like never before, regardless of physical distance. However, there are limitations to the type of connectedness one can experience through a screen.

What if knowing you and others around the world are engaged in the exact same activity could create a whole new experience of connection?

Through the process of creating event with friends around the globe, I found that the world is actually quite small, full of beautiful individuals who share remarkable similarities. By creating these walls, together we were witness to some big, big dreams.



Images Copyright © Candy Chang

Images Copyright © Candy Chang

Small World Big Dreams participants: 


Event day: May 5th, 2012


Each wall took on a life of it's own; from the beach to back alleys, from painted brick to cardboard. The awe-inspiring responses came in the form of many languages and even drawings. They revealed to me that despite differences of culture or nationality, or hopes and dreams are remarkably similar.

Each wall is unique and reflects the people of that community. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.
— Candy Chang, on her Before I Die project

Townsville, Australia

Before I Die I want to travel to the stars.
— a response from the Townsville wall

Berlin, Germany


Jersey City, USA

Before I Die I want to see the pyramids.
— a response from the Jersey City wall

Vancouver, Canada

Before I Die I want to leave no rock unturned.
— a response from the Vancouver wall

From all the walls created during the event, universal desires emerged. Regardless of language, culture or nationality, before we die, most of us want:

  • to fall in love and be loved

  • to have a family, and see the ones we love succeed
  • to travel and have adventures
  • to learn new things
  • to get a dog (Strange, I know. It came up consistently on all five walls)

What do you want to do before you die? 


Small World Big Dreams has received a generous amount of press: 

CTV National News reports on the Vancouver wall

CTV National News reports on the Vancouver wall

CBC news reports on Small World Big Dreams

CBC news reports on Small World Big Dreams

24 Hrs Vancouver covers Small World Big Dreams

24 Hrs Vancouver covers Small World Big Dreams

See the full list here > 

Check out the project, along with an inspiring collection of other walls from around the world in this published book:

Small Worlds Big Dreams has been included in the Before I Die book by Candy Chang. Also included is the Gratitude Wall, a project inspired by the Before I Die concept.

Image: Candy Chang