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Land O' Lakes Residents Reflect on Goals, Dreams In Public Art Project

Natalie Jablonski

Land O' Lakes is home to a new public art project with an international reputation. 

It’s called Before I Die. It’s a kind of interactive mural project...that asks people to fill in the blank: "Before I die…"

“I want to see the cubs win the world series,” says one respondent.

“Before I die, I would like to see a kinder world,” says another.    

Wendy Powalisz is program director for Land O' Lakes Area Artisans, or LOLA. "These kinds of things we think about, or have it maybe in our heads but don't have a chance to state that," she says.  "This gives you a chance to say it."   

She explains that the wall is based on a template created by a New Orleans artist, who wanted to put a positive spin on neighborhood graffiti.  The idea spread, and now there have been almost 500 Before I Die walls built around the world in at least 65 countries.

Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News
Responses on the wall range from the broad to the very specific.

“It was approached by a resident here in Land O' Lakes who had seen the project and thought it would be a perfect fit for our community," Powalisz explains.  "And I said yes, absolutely this is something that LOLA wants to do.  It’s going to be up 24/7, the chalk is going to be there for anyone to write whatever they want.” 

The first day after the wall was installed, and it was already drawing a crowd and dozens of responses.  Judy Challed says she likes seeing the variety in what people write. 

“It’s fun to see the real personal ones, the humorous ones," she says. "Some are places people want to go, or haven’t been.  They’re just great.” 

Once all the space is filled up, it can be wiped down for a blank slate.  The project will continue in downtown Land O' Lakes until Labor Day.   

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