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June 2012
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Paducahans share life goals in art project

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

Go to college. Dance. Visit Spain. Skydive.

These are some of the lifetime dreams Paducahans shared this week through a public art project at two local parks.

Community developer Monica Bilak arranged for two boards, both painted with chalkboard paint and stenciled with the words "Before I die," to be placed at Coleman and Keiler parks. People of all ages have been visiting and writing on the boards, which will be taken down Aug. 8 after a two-week run.

Bilak, who also works as the homeless coordinator for Paducah Public Schools, said she wasn't sure how the community would respond, but hoped the project would spark an interesting conversation and prompt people to think beyond the present. "People tend to lack a future story because they're really caught up in day-to-day living. Something we also noticed in education is that it's really important to get kids to think in terms of their entire lives," she said.

The "Before I Die" project has popped up around the world, Bilak said, and first came to her attention during a studio class she attended at Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

"I like these kinds of funky, unusual, unorthodox approaches to eliciting responses," Bilak said.

The responses haven't all been as positive as one would hope. Someone tore down one of the boards earlier this week, Bilak said, resulting in a learning experience for all involved.

"It was your typical adolescent dare," she said of the incident, which she recounted in detail on her blog at monicabilak.com.

She added that the young perpetrator apologized and helped to rebuild the board and put it back in place.

That same day, when she checked the other board, someone had filled in the blank with "forgive."

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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