Gateway: News

‘Before I Die’ wall at Gig Harbor library engages community with bucket list goals

Gig Harbor library branch manager Karen Brooks stands by the “Before I Die” wall at the library.
Gig Harbor library branch manager Karen Brooks stands by the “Before I Die” wall at the library. jbessex@gateline.com

A new activity at the Gig Harbor Pierce County Library encourages visitors to think ahead to the future and share their life goals.

Known as a “Before I Die” wall, the concept was started in 2011 by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans when she transformed an abandoned house in her neighborhood with chalk paint and provided space for her neighbors to share their goals.

The wall at the Gig Harbor library was put up by library staff on Nov. 1 and has already attracted the attention and participation of library visitors, said branch manager Karen Brooks.

First I thought it was kind of a bizarre idea. But then I researched it a bit more and realized how neat it was...It’s all over the world.

Beckie Smith, librarian

“November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month so that’s why we chose this month,” Brooks explained. “We wanted to tie it into library resources and a broader display.”

The wall features black construction paper with black post-it notes and markers for those interested to share their bucket list items anonymously. The display was put together by librarian Beckie Smith from an idea presented by Kriss Kevorkian, a community member and leader of the Gig Harbor Death Cafe.

“First I thought it was kind of a bizarre idea,” Smith said. “But then I researched it a bit more and realized how neat it was ... It’s all over the world.”

You have to start walking with dying, with death. If we think about death more, we would live more. This (display) hopefully will bring more attention...Life is short. Get moving now.

Kriss Kevorkian

Included in the “Before I Die” wall display are local resources and several related books, including the “Before I Die” book sharing photos of walls from around the world. Offering an interactive display such as this wall helps to bring attention to issues surrounding death and dying, Kevorkian explained.

“It puts this in front of us so hopefully we don’t wait for our bucket list things,” she said. “I see this as something to say, ‘Don’t wait. Do everything you can now.’”

We like to find ways for people to engage with the library instead of a place you come in and then leave. We’re beginning to blend those lines and engage the community in new ways. Which is our goal.

Karen Brooks, Gig Harbor Pierce County Library branch manager

Kevorkian holds a doctoral degree in thanatology — the study and science of death, dying and bereavement — and believes that facing the reality of death allows people to live a fuller and happier life.

“You have to start walking with dying, with death. If we think about death more, we would live more,” she said. “This (display) hopefully will bring more attention. Life is short. Get moving now.”

A goal for the library is to create more engaging displays, such as the “Before I Die” wall, that connect with the community coming in to use the library.

“We like to find ways for people to engage with the library instead of a place you come in and then leave,” Brooks said. “We’re beginning to blend those lines and engage the community in new ways, which is our goal.”

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

  Comments