ChalkTalks

Cambie Bridge

ChalkTalks

Bringing art and engagement to an underutilized space in the form of public chalkboards.

School:

SFU

Department:

Centre for Dialogue

Course:

SFU Semester at CityStudio

Instructors:

Janet Moore, Adrian Sinclair, Lisa Novak

City of Vancouver Partners:

  • Paul Krueger | Public Space
  • David Lewis | Integrated Graffiti
  • Dane Doleman | Engineer

Student Team:

  • Archana Kannan | UBC
  • Sophia Larney | UBC
  • Serena Bonneville | SFU
  • Calvin Chung | SFU

Strategy:

  • Healthy City Strategy
  • Vancouver Cultural Plan

City goal area(s):

  • Cultivating Connections
  • Expressing Ourselves
  • Connecting People, Ideas and Communities

Summary

ChalkTalks is inspired by the “Before I Die” project created by Candy Chang in the early 2000s. After losing someone she loved, Chang installed chalk boards onto an abandoned house in New Orleans with the prompt “Before I Die…” written at the top. Since then, over two thousand Before I Die walls have been created in over 70 countries around the world. Chang was our main inspiration for implementing a similar project here in Vancouver – one that would address issues close to our hearts and that would facilitate important conversations that are otherwise lacking in the public realm.

Our project currently consists of four (4X8) chalk walls which have been drilled into the pillars underneath the south end of the Cambie Bridge, between 2nd and 1st Avenue. These chalk walls present questions and prompts with the aim of promoting positive responses and conversations from the public. Each board provides chalk, encouraging the public to write their answers, express themselves and engage in an anonymous city-wide conversation. The prompts and questions on these walls currently include:

“What would make you stay?”
“What makes you smile?”
“What is home?”
“I’ve been meaning to tell you…”

ChalkTalks
ChalkTalks

Next Steps

After presenting this project to the city and the Integrated Graffiti Management team, the project was granted funding for stewardship in collaboration with CityStudio Vancouver. A ChalkTalks Coordinator has been hired to maintain the project (i.e. wipe down boards on an ongoing basis, document the responses, and potentially experiment with different prompts) and although the chalk boards themselves are quite permanent, the prompts and responses will change periodically.