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Inspirational project turns dilapidated homes into symbols of hope

Post-Katrina homes still abandoned

“Blight” houses still line the streets in many parts of New Orleans, sometimes standing out as a sore thumb, yet in other neighborhoods, blending in with the dozens of other houses that remain boarded up, dilapidated, tagged and overgrown. In the six years since Hurricane Katrina changed the face of New Orleans, these blight houses are the scars left behind that impact health, safety and home values of neighborhoods as they rack up daily fines for not being up to code.

In one case, a single mother wanted to help her city recover by investing in a home after Katrina, but she tells New Orleans artist, Candy Chang that the contractors stole her money and left her high and dry with the house pictured above. She has since abandoned the house. Chang reached out to the property owner to obtain permission to install a public art piece, to which the owner agreed, the city has given approval, and Chang has boarded up one side of the house, painted with chalk board paint, and painted the words “Before I die I want to ____________” eighty times along the side of the structure. Colored chalk was added, and neighbors immediately flocked to share what they wanted to accomplish before they die.

The “Before I Die” interactive art project so beautifully highlights the juxtaposition of disaster and hope in an area still struggling after a natural disaster. The wall was completely filled within 24 hours of installation and this is far from Chang’s first successful project in New Orleans

Where Realtors come in

There is an online project where anyone can share what they want to do before they die, but what we want our readers to know is that Chang will soon be sharing a kit which will help you (with permission, of course) turn a blight in your own area into an interactive art piece to give your own community hope and pride… we’re looking at you, Youngstown, Vegas, Detroit, and others. You don’t have to be an artist or even creative to be involved, and it is such a simple, beautiful way to brighten a dreary situation. We know we have a Utopian view of the world, but who better to bring hope to a community than a Realtor?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Jason Stoddard

    September 9, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Very cool concept. Exceptional execution. There is a similar project taking shape in Detroit. Check out the Lemonade: Detriot trailer

  2. Liz Benitez

    September 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Wow, what a great idea.

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