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Dreams come alive in Chinatown alley 0

24 HOURS
Local designer Dana Ramler is responsible for bringing the Before I Die project to Vancouver stands by one of the public art installation located by East Georgia and Main Streets in Vancouver. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Local designer Dana Ramler is responsible for bringing the Before I Die project to Vancouver stands by one of the public art installation located by East Georgia and Main Streets in Vancouver. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

While some people keep their deepest desires hidden, one local designer is hoping to show how those same desires - scrawled across a blackboard in a Chinatown alleyway - can create connections among strangers.

"No matter what city, culture or community we live in, we all want the same things," industrial designer Dana Ramler said of the Before I Die project, a public art installation that asks passersby to write their bucket list wish on a blackboard using chalk.

Conceived in 2011 in New Orleans by designer Candy Chang, Before I Die has since been recreated across the world - with an alley between Vancouver's Keefer and East Georgia becoming home to the project's latest chapter.

According to Ramler, who also arranged with friends living abroad to install walls simultaneously on May 5, Vancouverites all too often take for granted the social aspects of city life.

"That's why I thought it was so important for Vancouver to have a wall," said the Emily Carr University grad. "It humanizes people. The guy walking down the street isn't just a guy. He wants to see his children happy. It gives new insight into people."

A 16-foot-wide wall was also put up in Kitsilano but has since been taken down mysteriously.

"That's the most fascinating part. In Chinatown, we're in an alley and a less affluent area in the city and everyone was so curious," said the 27-year-old of the 24-foot-wide blackboard, which was covered with contributions within a day of being installed.

"In Kitsilano, on a corner where there's a major bus stop, people would walk by without looking at us."

Moving forward, Ramler said it was almost time to clear off the blackboard to allow for new contributions. She also hopes to expand the project to other neighbourhoods throughout the city.

As for her own wish?

"I could fill a city block with my own personal goals and dreams," she said. "For me, the beauty of doing this is, you're held accountable to what you want out of life. It's not just a secret wish. You've declared it to the world now."


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