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Neighborland is a fun and easy tool for people to shape future businesses and services in their neighborhoods.

Inspired by I Wish This Was, this project takes that idea a few steps further to help collect demand and bring people together, so the future of our communities better reflects our desires today. It connects residents who want things with likeminded people, initiatives, and resources. It’s a valuable poll for civic leaders and developers to assess what residents want in vacant real estate and existing public spaces. And it promotes entrepreneurship by revealing neighborhood demands and proving there is a viable customer base for new businesses to open.

The project has been a big team effort led by Dan Parham and Tee Parham with integral development by James Reeves, Alan Williams, and Chris Palmatier.

More Candy Chang on BLDGWLF.

When I was little I wanted to be…

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Near the University of Turku is a pedestrian/bike path under the train tracks and highway. It’s nicknamed Uraputki, or “Career Path”, because it is a popular route that students take from their residences to the university. To remind students of the larger picture, this project transforms the path into an interactive space with fill-in-the-blank sentences stenciled on the pavement that say “When I was little I wanted to be ____. Today I want to be ____.” in Finnish, Swedish, and English. Passersby can use colored chalk to write directly on the pavement and reflect upon their larger life journey, as well as learn about the lives and goals of the people around them. Created with temporary spray chalk.

Candy Chang

More Candy Chang on BLDGWLF.

Looking for Love Again

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Abandoned buildings have become such a common sight that they often slip quietly into the backdrop of our cities like an accepted part of our landscape. How can we learn more about the stories behind these buildings and how can they better fulfill our needs and dreams today? Thanks to the Alaska Design Forum, I (Candy Chang) was invited to create a public art project in Fairbanks, where the tallest building has stood abandoned for over a decade. Looking for Love Again is an interactive public art project that will collect everyone’s stories and ideas about the Polaris Building to help us better understand the history and forces that have shaped Fairbanks, while tugging at the heart strings of those who might be able to make our dreams come true. During April 2011 (and maybe longer), a giant sign turns this vacant high-rise into an emotional beacon pleading for love, and chalkboards at the street level invite people to share their memories of the building and hopes for its future. A project website will collect the same online.

So this project is an experiment – if given better tools, can residents share valuable stories about these buildings? What happened here? Who grew up here? What good times were had? How has this place changed? Why is it neglected? And what if we had more of a say in what these spaces could become? How can they better fulfill our needs and dreams today? What if we can prove there is a strong enough customer base for a new business to open? See more photos, stories, and ideas on the project website,

Huge thanks to project coordinator David Hayden of the Alaska Design Forum for his dedicated project management, Mike Hondel of the Alaska Design Forum for his dedicated project assistance, and to the following people for their generous installation assistance along the way: Bernie Baecker, Carol Hayden, Sean Hering, Kate Incarnato, Galen Long, Dustin Miller, Jessica Nelson, Amy Nordrum, Ian Oleson, Sheri Oleson, Pat Rivera, Jack Schmid, Trent Schoenemann, Sue Sprinkle, Dave van den Berg, and Jared van deer Weele. April 2011.

Before I Die…

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One month later and seven hours of stenciling today, and it’s up! With a lot of help and support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard where residents can fill in the blank and remember what is important to them in life. It’s also about turning a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. It turns out this entire process has been a great lesson, experience, and project in itself – more on that later. If you’re in New Orleans, stop by the corner of Marigny and Burgundy (900 Marigny St) to add your thoughts to the wall and see what matters most to your neighbors.

Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center.