Candy Chang

Through a series of large-scale projects that combine installation art with social activism, Chang has encouraged people to engage with public spaces to let their voices be heard.
— O Magazine

Candy Chang is an artist, designer, and urban planner who makes cities more comfortable for people. A Senior TED Fellow, Chang is passionate about redefining the ways we share information in public space to improve our neighborhoods. The Atlantic calls her recent work, Before I Die, “one of the most creative community projects ever.”

Candy Chang is the creator of the Before I Die project, which started when she stenciled the words "Before I die I want to _______." on a chalkboard wall on an abandoned house in New Orleans. Overnight it became a place for people to pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space. There are now 425 Before I Die walls in over 25 languages and over 60 countries, including Kazakhstan, Portugal, Japan, Denmark, Iraq, Argentina, and South Africa. The Before I Die book, which includes photographs of lots of walls from around the world, personal stories, and visual insights into our aspirations for urban living, was published in November 2013 and has been featured on CNN, TED, AP News, Brain Pickings, and Mashable. 

Chang was chosen as one of six Community Advocates to speak on behalf of the 2012 TED Prize winner, “The City 2.0." During the ceremony, she spoke about her dreams for future cities. Her experience working with residents, community organizations, companies, and governments in cities around the world—on projects about street vendors' rights, criminal justice, housing costs, career choices, downtown revitalization, economic development, and personal goals—gives her speeches a unique perspective for improving lives. 

Fast Company named Chang an Emerging Master of Design, and TED made her a Senior Fellow for 2011-2012. A former art director at The New York Times, and a 2011 Tulane/Rockefeller Foundation Urban Innovation Fellow, she has exhibited her work at the National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and has created public art commissions for civic institutions, airports, and creative organizations. She has also been selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

She is also the co-founder of Neighborland.com—a website that allows people to share their suggestions about improving the public spaces in their cities with others who have similar goals. This new digital tool provides residents with the resources needed to enact the changes they've suggested and even brings some of projects directly to the attention of policy makers.