Oct. 16, 2015: What world do you want to live in? Concordians respond on new ‘wall’, by Kathleen Norman

October 16, 2015 by

Kathleen Norman

Kathleen Norman

“I want to live in a world where…”

This was one of two sentences that participants were to complete on “The World We Want” wall at Fall Fest. The other was “To create this world, I will…”


A Recurring Theme

At the August Pros of Con Meeting, we watched a TED talk about “Before I die, I want to…” It featured a community chalkboard where people could share their hopes and dreams by completing the sentence. People’s responses were both comical and thoughtful. We had a great discussion and shared our own answers to two fill-in-the-blank prompts: “Before I die, I want to…” and “Before I leave this group, I want to…” There was some talk about maybe doing something like this in Concordia, but nothing really concrete.

After I left the meeting, I didn’t think about it again. Until, two weeks later, I was talking with Linda Blanken at KNCK’s Business After Hours and she asked me if I had seen that TED talk. Again, we discussed doing something like this in Concordia, but this time, it was more specific; we brainstormed ideas for the prompts and decided that Fall Fest would be an ideal time for this type of piece.


Global Movement, Local Involvement

When I found “The World We Want,” I knew we were one step closer to making this a reality. The World We Want is a global movement focused on creating public art pieces where individuals and communities to express themselves. With the two part fill-in-the-blank prompts, the idea is to move beyond ideological pleasantries and invite the individual think about how he or she can take action.

Armed with idea of creating a chalkboard wall with the prompts “I want to live in a world where…” and “To create this world, I will…,” I got the green light from my supervisors to move forward with the project. I then reached out to several local organizations to assist me with its creation.

With help from Pros of Con, the Concordia Arts Council, and the Concordia Year of Peace Committee, we built the wall. We made two giant plywood sandwich boards and placed them side by side to create the 8-foot-by-6-foot “wall.” After covering each side in chalkboard paint, we stenciled on the wording.


Writing on the Wall

I wasn’t sure how Concordians would respond to the wall. People had seemed enthusiastic about the idea, but would that translate into participation?

We set it up in front of the Chamber of Commerce before the Fall Fest parade. At first, people just glanced at it as they walked by. Then, I saw a few middle school boys and I asked them if they would write on my chalkboard. Three of them came over and each wrote variations of:

“I want to live in a world where… I CAN HUNT ALL DAY”
“To create this world, I will… GET OUT OF SCHOOL”

By noon, most of the squares had been filled in and people continued writing their visions wherever there was space. Not everyone chose to write on the wall, and many people stopped just read what others had written. The responses were both humorous and serious. Here’s a sample of what people wrote:

“I want to live in a world where…EVERYBODY STRIVES TO DO THEIR BEST.”
“To create this world, I will… START BY BEING THE BEST I CAN!”

“I want to live in a world where… EVERYONE LOVES MUSIC”
“To create this world, I will… BLAST MUSIC ON THE STREETS”

“I want to live in a world where… EVERYBODY HAS RIGHTS!”
“To create this world, I will… [drawing of a rainbow]”

“I want to live in a world where… EVERY KID CAN READ”
“To create this world, I will… MENTOR”

“I want to live in a world where… DREAMS COME TRUE”
“To create this world, I will… GO TO DISNEYLAND”

My hope is to do this again, possibly with different prompts in a different location.


— Kathleen Norman recently moved to Concordia, where she is director of Neighborhood Initiatives Inc., an office of the Sisters of St. Joseph.


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