I Wish This Was is a participatory public art project that lowers the barriers to civic engagement. As part of the Ethnographic Terminalia exhibition, Chang posted thousands of “I wish this was ______” stickers on vacant buildings across New Orleans to invite residents to share their hopes for these spaces. The stickers are made of vinyl and can be easily removed without damaging property. Responses ranged from the functional to the poetic: I wish this was… a butcher shop, a community garden, a place to sit and talk, a source of tasty healthy food I could afford, a city without theft, your dream, Heaven, full of nymphomaniacs with PhDs. The project was part of the Ethnographic Terminalia exhibition at Du Mois Gallery, New Orleans, and was also featured in the Spontaneous Interventions exhibition at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
This experiment became the prototype for Neighborland, a nationwide tool co-founded by Chang, Dan Parham, and Tee Parham that has helped organizations and residents collaborate on the future of their communities to enact real change, including night markets, bike lanes, food truck law reforms, and park improvements. Those interested in using the stickers are welcome to purchase revised versions here or print their own by downloading these files. Be sure to print them on vinyl so they can be removed without damaging property.
2010, New Orleans. Vinyl stickers, permanent markers, vacant buildings. 4.5″ x 3″ each. To those concerned about the subjunctive mood (“I wish this was” vs. “I wish this were”): Long discussions on the topic suggest that both usages are acceptable. This project is about striking up a casual conversation in the city.