What‘s on your bucket list?

An art installation in downtown Napa seeks to encourage people to reflect on what they most want to do before they die.

The Before I Die project was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, after artist Candy Chang suddenly lost a loved one who died without doing many of the things she had wanted to do. Chang painted the wall of an abandoned corner house with chalkboard paint and used a stencil to paint “Before I die I want to” across the home. Passersby filled in the sentence with their own personal goals, such as “inspire my children,” “see equality,” and “swim w/out holding my nose.”

It’s since spread to more than 5,000 walls in 78 countries. Now the Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living, Collabria Hospice and the City of Napa have partnered to bring three standalone Before I Die panels to the waterfront area of Veterans Memorial Park.

“I came across this project and I thought this is something that really needs to happen in Napa,” said Robert Hayes, Collabria marketing and communications manager.

It turned out that Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living was a few weeks ahead of him. Hayes learned they had already constructed the panels, so the organizations decided to partner on the project. The City was supportive of the public art aspect of the project, Hayes said.

Before I Die forces people to reflect on their lives — be it silly or profound, he said. He recalled seeing people share that they wanted to grow taller than 5-feet, 2-inches tall, finish a divorce and see a daughter graduate high school.

“We’re all so busy,” he said. “It’s sometimes rare in a day that you get to stop and think about it.”

The panels were first set up Oct. 26 and will be on display through Friday, Nov. 8. After that, they will be displayed on Adams Street in St. Helena, courtesy of Vasconi’s Pharmacy. Volunteers from Collabria Care, St. Helena High School and the community at large will mount and maintain the display. Following the wall’s display in St. Helena, it will return to the Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living, its permanent home.

But even as the panels were put in place Oct. 26 in Napa, the installation drew questions from passersby. A couple wrote that they wanted to learn to play the ukulele and bikepack across the country. It didn’t take long before Napa brothers Gabriel, 9, and Jaxson, 1, Alves stepped up.

Gabriel wrote that he wanted to go to Disneyland.

“I’ve been there before,” he said. “It was, like, awesome.”

It would also be nice to have a dog, preferably a beagle, Gabriel said.

Jaxson scribbled on the wall.

“You got a long time, buddy,” Gabriel said to his brother.

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Courtney can be reached at 707-256-2221. Follow her Twitter and Facebook accounts, @courtneynteague, for more on her reporting.


Public Safety Reporter

Courtney Teague is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She can be reached at 707-256-2221. You can follow her reporting on Twitter and Facebook, or send her anonymous tip at: tinyurl.com/anonymous-tipbox-courtney.