The writing on the wall..

Was walking home from one of my famous walks along the Corniche a week or so ago, when something in the corner of my eye caught my attention..

Lebanon would be better if...

Lebanon would be better

Located on Jean D’ Arc Street across from Books & Pens, the wall invites people to write what they think should be done to make Lebanon better.  The duo behind the project, Karim Badra and Sherif Maktabi, wanted to start a public conversation by creating a huge suggestion box (or in this case, wall) for Lebanon. [source]

I took pictures of some of the “suggestions”..

Lebanon would be better

Well, isn't that nice?

Lebanon would be better


Lebanon would be better

Revolutionary thinking..

Lebanon would be better

Mature. Real Mature.

My friend, moved by what was taking place, decided to contribute her own thoughts..

Lebanon would be better

You'll have to go to the wall to see what she wrote... 😉

The lady who sells chiclets next to the wall was not at all amused by what was happening.. She was quoted by The Daily Star as saying, ““I want to live, I don’t want [people writing] to disturb me and my livelihood.”

Lebanon would be better

"Look at these girls interrupting my business!"

I went back yesterday during the day to see if I could get a better shot of the wall..but to my disappointment the wall had been defaced.

Lebanon would be better..

Seriously? Was this really necessary?

Lebanon be better

So sad.

I remember seeing a project like this before.  And sure enough, with a little bit of research.. I found it.  The “Before I Die” project by Candy Chang in New Orleans, has been running since February 2011!  And has yet to be defaced like this one in Beirut.

According to her website,”It’s easy to get caught in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you.  With help from friends and neighbors, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard to invite my neighbors to remember and share what is important to them.  Before I Die transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us.  If you’re in New Orleans, stop by the corner of Marigny and Burgundy (900 Marigny Street) to add your thoughts to the wall and discover what matters most to your neighbors.  I believe the design of our public spaces can better reflect what’s important to us as residents and as human beings.  The responses and stories from passersby while we were installing it have already hit me hard in the heart.”

Before I die project

The "Before I Die" project in New Orleans

Before I die project

Ahoy, Mateys!

Before I die project


Before I die project


In only one day, the wall goes from empty to this…

Before I die project

Isn't this beautiful?

Before I die project


Before I die project

Wow. Just wow.

You know that I love this country right?  But after seeing what people did to the “Lebanon would be better” project..I have to say that my contribution is:

Lebanon would be better if: (some) people just GREW the hell UP!

That being said, I’m happy to see that the duo behind “Lebanon would be better,” aren’t letting the immature actions of a few get to them.  Maktabi had this to say on his blog, “I’m not sure what me and Badra will do about the wall of Bliss street.  One of the options is to paint over it ourselves and return it as it once was.  We have more walls planned.  And now it’s time to move on.  Stay tuned for more Lebanon Would Be Better If projects near you.  And I’m making a virtual version of the project 🙂 Away from black markers. And vandalism free ;)”

To learn more about the Lebanon would be better project, click here and here.  To see a virtual version of the wall, click here.

Follow the duo on Twitter: Karim Badra @karimbadra and Sherif Maktabi @sherifmango

To visit the wall for your self, take a left on Jean D’Arc from Bliss street, and it’s about 100-150 meters or so up on your left hand side..right across from Books & Pens,,when you see a lady selling chiclets giving you the evil eye, you know you’re there.

And finally, to learn more about the Before I Die project in New Orleans, click here

But before you go..fill in this blank..

Lebanon would be better if…



Filed under life in Lebanon

35 responses to “The writing on the wall..

  1. i really like this post! what a wonderful project and how immature the lebanese can be! no sense of respect. I can only say LEBANON WOULD BE BETTER IF THE LEBANESE LEARN THE BASIC NOTION OF RESPECT.
    respect of humanity, respect for rules and order, respect for foreign labour, respect for the hard working, respect for women, respect for nature, respect for the sea, respect when driving… And i could go on…:)

  2. Lebanon would be better if the Lebanese had more self respect and respect for others
    Lebanon would be better if everyone met one new random person (every once in a while) of a different upbringing (sect, area of the country, social status, etc)

  3. Such a shame!!!!
    Maybe this can help:
    1. a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in ): to differ in some respect.
    2. relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
    3.esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.

    –verb (used with object)
    1. to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat.
    2. to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone’s rights.
    3. to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person’s privacy.

    1. regard, feature, matter. 2. regard, connection. 3. estimation, reverence, homage, honor. Respect, esteem, veneration imply recognition of personal qualities by approbation, deference, and more or less affection. Respect is commonly the result of admiration and approbation, together with deference: to feel respect for a great scholar. Esteem is deference combined with admiration and often with affection: to hold a friend in great esteem. Veneration is an almost religious attitude of deep respect, reverence, and love, such as we feel for persons or things of outstanding superiority, endeared by long association: veneration for one’s grandparents, for noble traditions. 7. bias, preference. 9. revere, venerate, consider, admire. 10. heed.

  4. Fadi

    Nice post Dani 🙂 Shame to see what happened to that wall..
    If I were to write something there, I’d say
    “Lebanon would be better if we started being smart instead of just smart-asses”
    Cheers !

  5. Christine

    Lebanon would be better if people placed their country before their sectarian identity.

  6. this is one of the most beautiful posts i came across in a long time! i absolutely love the idea behind those walls, and congratulate those people for their initiative. i really hope they’re able to revamp it pretty soon, and that more interested & caring people get to make their contributions with wiser words & thoughts.
    stunning! thanks so much for posting pictures of them 🙂

  7. kenan hafi

    Not just for Lebanese but for all humanity: If we learned to be less ashamed of our own vulnerablity

  8. Bob

    Hey ! m a new follower and i LOOOVE your post ! m sharing it on twitter and on Facebook ! hehe.
    As for my own contribution, I believe that Lebanon would be better if Lebanese let go of their Lebanese mentality.
    However, after spending 24 years in this country, I realized that this will never come true, consequently, I think that the best thing to do is to live by the words Jubran Khalil Jubran once said :
    ‘”You have your Lebanon and its dilemma. I have my Lebanon and its beauty.”

    Once again amazing post!!
    Keep up the good work 😀 !

  9. Sad how people can’t let things just be. But at least the people behind the wall had good intentions.

  10. Farrah

    i tweeted about this not long ago, i’m glad you found it too:D
    great projects…too bad about it being defaced though 😦

  11. I’d like to tell you, simply, that I will take this post ” The writing on the wall.. ” as my birthday gift! 🙂 I love it

  12. Samer

    I’ve spoken with the old lady who sits near the wall and she said that it was the old homeless man (the ex-AUB professor gone mad- actually quite famous near the bliss area) who scribbled over all the writing. I would believe her since I’ve seen her and the old man everyday for the last 4 years, and according to their behavioral patterns, this is not something I think she is capable off. The old man also sleeps right under this part of the wall. As soon as I asked her about the scribbling she immediately felt threatened and ratted out the old man. In any case, I doubt she is lying, and I also agree that Lebanon would be better if we learnt to respect each other.

  13. Lebanon would be a better place if everyone blogged the way you do (insightful, thorough, honest).

    I walked past it and didn’t even think to blog it and that’s no problem because you did it brilliantly.

  14. nice post.. unfortunately we have some extremely immature people in lebanon 😦
    “wled el 7ayy” — neighborhood kids who just go around defacing everything around them..

    Lebanon would be a better place if it had more greenery.. more parks.. more space for people to breathe.. it would also be better for people respected each other, themselves, and the law.

    Still better than living in India though 😛 😀

  15. berna

    lebanon would be better if u went back to miami go and have that R&R U need & do us all a favour & dont come back americia needs u more than we need u bye bye ya helwe

  16. Caroline

    Lebanon would be a better place if the Lebanese people got over their egos and started actually caring about people and things.

    Great post Dani! Thank you! I will pass by to see it, even though it has been vandalized. I look forward to seeing more of their projects in the future. Lebanon needs more people like them.

  17. jo mahmah

    New Orleans suffered from a horrid natural disaster that devastated the entire city.

    Lebanon suffers and has suffered from retarded politicians and a mentality founded solely on racism, which, if we’ve been watching Oprah’s final season (tear) we learn that racism (i.e. sectarianism) is a product of fear and ignorance. Most times, the ignorant are unaware of their ignorance until they finally ‘see the light.’ Couple this with an entire generation suffering from psychological disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, along with the somehow hereditary elitism we all Lebanese wear, and we have the people that are currently running our government.

    We haven’t had a parliament since when? I haven’t seen a difference.

    This whole “Lebanon Blows” thing is old. Our politics are corrupt and we don’t have electricity. Not our fault. I saw a transvestite walk down the middle of Hamra street today without ridicule. I smiled as he/she bounced down the street flipping his/her wig. And we say nothing’s changed?

    We as Lebanese people have somehow collectively got our heads out of our asses and aren’t riding around the city flaunting ridiculously bright political flags like back in ’06 and ’07 when politicians were being blown up left and right, 3al Manara no less. You all remember that day. (waaaaay before that whole lil May ’08 thingie)

    This whole “Viva La ~*ReVoLuTiOn*~” artist hamra movement is worn out. I guess we kinda figured that by now, if the government won’t let us live in peace, we might as well just live in peace. No one gives a crap anymore cause now we’ve got Applebee’s on Sadat and teta let’s us go out cause there is no ‘situation’ anymore.

    Don’t let some spoiled hipster AUB students that haven’t spent their enormous wads of pocket money on crack who were bored enough to go to Books n Pens for a can of spray paint actually make any consequence on our lives just cause they’re mad that we can’t download music and order food to our houses with a credit card.

    The PeOpLe have responded. No one gives a shit.
    AND the real people of Hamra, before this hipster implosion, the afore mentioned lady and man, who LIVE on the streets. They fuckin’ hated it.

    • Karl

      “Our politics are corrupt and we don’t have electricity. Not our fault.”
      But we can change it. We’re guilty of being passive.

      “And we say nothing’s changed?”
      Some things have changed, but we need a lot more. If you’re satisfied with the way things are Lebanon, some of us aren’t.

      “they’re mad that we can’t download music and order food to our houses with a credit card.”
      You seem to think that we’re doing great in Lebanon and that we only have minor problems.
      I don’t know what your standards are or what you consider “living”, but there are some people out there who are not satisfied with the way things are here, people who would like to see changes, and believe me, there is room for a whole lotta changes. In any way, there’s no need to hate or to criticize. If you don’t give a shit, simply don’t write anything on the wall and just let other people voice their opinions.


  18. Karl

    Great post by the way!
    The list of things that need to be changed is huge but like other people said, the basis for everything is respect. Leelouz said it all.

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