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How Would You Fill in the Blank? 'Before I Die I Want to...

"...thinking about death is a very powerful activity that helps you clarify what's important in your life."

Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most recent cities to open up the project to its community. (Photo: TEDxBirmingham/Facebook)

A southern town has joined a global art project to answer a heavy question meant to inspire people to live out their dreams and to promote a sense of community. The question -- actually more of a fill-in-the-blank -- prompts "Before I die I want to _______."

A physical blackboard with the fill-in-the-blank is part of a movement that has made its way into more than 100 cities through the popular TED Conferences. The idea was launched by New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang, who in a 2012 TED talk described how she turned an abandoned house in her neighborhood into a giant chalkboard with the thought-provoking fill-in-the-blank.

before i die_birmingham Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most recent cities to open up the project to its community. (Photo: TEDxBirmingham/Facebook)

"It was an experiment and I didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was bursting with handwritten responses and it kept growing: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, hold her one more time, eat a salad with an alien, see my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, plant a tree, straddle the International Date Line, be completely myself…  People’s responses made me laugh out loud and they made me tear up. They consoled me during my toughest times. I understood my neighbors in new and enlightening ways, and the wall reminded me that I’m not alone as I try to make sense of my life," Chang wrote on the world-wide project's website.

Watch Chang's slightly more than six-minute talk about the interactive exhibit:

The blackboard project recently launched in Birmingham, Alabama, through TEDxBirmingham.

Co-organizer for the event Matthew Hamilton told WBRC-TV that although it might seem discouraging to talk about death "actually thinking about death is a very powerful activity that helps you clarify what's important in your life."

The dreams that have been written on the chalkboard so far range from serious to more lighthearted.

before i die_birmingham The project in Birmingham was funded through Kickstarter. (Photo: TEDxBirmingham/Facebook)

before i die_birmingham Organizers hope that the board not only helps people celebrate life and complete their goals but also gain more of a sense about their community members. (Photo: TEDxBirmingham/Facebook)

before i die_birmingham Some put their most serious bucket-list items on the board while others seek out a bit of a laugh with their posts.  (Photo: TEDxBirmingham/Facebook)

The $2,000 it took to launch the project was crowd-funded through Kickstarter, that way it was "for the community, by the community," according to Hamilton.

Check out TEDxBirmingham's Facebook page for more on what has been written on the wall.

And, if you care to share, fill in the blank in the comments section: Before I die I want to________.

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(H/T: WIAT-TV)

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