SIDNEY — A global phenomenon has found its way to Sidney, Ohio. When RJ Horowitz, managing member of LFR Ohio Properties, heard of the “Before I Die” boards, he knew he wanted to be a part of the movement.
“I heard about the project from a friend from Louisville, Kentucky, CJ Pressma. He owns and operates a gallery and asked if I had heard of a project by Candy Chang. I said no, I haven’t heard about it. He told me to go to their website and check it out, “said Horowitz.
After losing a loved one, New Orleans artist, Candy Chang, decided to conduct an experiment to help others consider the things they wanted to accomplish in life. In 2011, she obtained permission to use a deserted building in her neighborhood for this experiment.
Chang painted the side of the building with chalkboard paint and stenciled lines that read “Before I die I want to __.” Containers holding chalk were secured to the wall, and people began to fill the lines with their goals and dreams.
Chang posted pictures of this wall on social media, and the idea took off. People from all over the world felt that this experiment was beneficial, and soon began erecting their own walls. It was after reading this story online that Horowitz began to consider it.
Most of the walls have been erected in large cities, but Horowitz saw no reason that they should only be erected in metropolitan areas. Horowitz owns two properties in Ohio, Blume NAME in Wapakoneta and Canal Place Apartments in Sidney. It seemed to him that those properties would be prime homes for new walls.
“We put up a wall at the Wapakoneta property. Roughly three weeks later, the wall went up here in Sidney,” said Horowitz.
Horowitz has come to see this project as a mission to reach people of all socio-economic groups. He wants all people who encounter the walls to leave enriched.
“What we would like to do is to have people from all walks of life in Central West Ohio to participate, so we would love to have all the farmers come with their families and fill up the wall, and we’ll take a picture and wipe it clean. We’d love to have first responders, motorcycle clubs, doctors, lawyers, politicians. We’ve found that this has hit a chord with people, that they want to present their bucket list in a nonthreatening way. This is a platform where they can write it anonymously. Subsequently, we have learned that some people have gone on to fulfill what they wrote on the wall,” said Horowitz.
His friend was surprised at the drive Horowitz feels for this movement and shared with him his own way to pay homage to the movement that has swept the world.
“CJ is hoping to photograph these walls and put them in a book. The book is scheduled to come out in 2017,” said Horowitz.
Horowitz, who has faced death at several times in his life and is now facing the challenges of growing older, feels a kinship with those who write on the walls.
“I’m passionate about it because it hits a chord with me.. At any given moment, you can die. I think one should do everything possible to do everything they want to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt themselves or somebody else. I was born Aug. 8 of 1958. I have faced some health issues. I’m trying to take care of people in my business who deserve to live in safe, clean housing. This kind of resonates with me. This is kind of my way of paying it forward.” said Horowitz.
Horowitz believes that there is benefit to interacting with the wall.
“I have found that writing something down makes it real. Then, other people read it, and I become somewhat accountable to the people who’ve read it, whether they know me or not.,” said Horowitz,” I’ll paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers ever, Bugs Bunny, when I say; You know, in this crazy thing called life, none of us are going to get out of it alive,” said Horowitz.
The website for “Before I Die” is available at www.beforeidie.com.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.