Last Wednesday, January 30th, saw the unveiling of the “Before I Die” campaign chalkboard in the Newman Building. Organised by the Arts Programme Peer Mentors, the campaign is known globally and consists of a chalkboard with the inscriptions “Before I die I want to…” and spaces for personal messages.
Co-organiser Zoe Forde said that the project had the Arts building in mind “because everyone always says Arts has no community spirit”. The global idea came from American artist Candy Chang, who wanted to get people in her flat block communicating.
The project is based on a mental health model with the purpose of helping people to “clarify life, the people [you] want to be with and things [you] want to do”. The idea is that anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives and share their personal inspirations and goals in a public arena.
Though the organisers have the support of UCDSU Welfare Vice-President Mícheál Gallagher, it was a misconception that the project was a Union event. Though Curtis is Welfare Crew Council Co-Ordinator and Forde a Crew Member, it was simple coincidence.
Curtis said that it was “initially a team leader project” within the Arts Mentor programme. That structure allowed for the involvement of peer mentees and first years who may not have yet been properly involved in anything in UCD. Co-organiser Danielle Curtis says it is based on the thought that if everyone “came together and agreed on their problems then they can solve them.”
The project has been promoted on campus and beyond using Thunderclap which involves mobilising at least one hundred people on Twitter and Facebook for a given time. It then sends out an update ‘blast” with the aim of reaching as many people as possible. There was also a video made about the project with the overall focus on online media.
Forde says that students have been highly supportive with only a handful of negative comments from the hundreds of students they have dealt with. Staff in the Arts programme office have gotten behind the project by sourcing the necessary materials and putting up an information stand.
UCDSU Welfare Vice President Michael Gallagher has said that “It was really nice to see our community in UCD putting their hopes and aspirations out there and all of us talking about what we hope to achieve in the public forum”.
Forde and Curtis plan to leave the board up for the rest of the semester. They will take a picture of each board as it fills and eventually scrapbook all the boards in video, to showcase the hoped-for success of the project.