OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

"I am safest when ________."

If you've never heard of Candy Chang, prepare to leap out of your seat—inspired and motivated to change your neighborhood, your city, your world. If you have heard of her, then let's get right down it and chat about how her work can inspire research and ideas to address women's safety. What I want to share today is more inspiration than research, continuing the conversation on working with, not for, communities.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison
24 25

Written by

Candy Chang is part artist, part urban designer.

Perhaps her most famous is "Before I Die I want to________" (now also in book form), a simple blackboard-and-chalk concept to encourage her neighbors to share personal aspirations in public. Her work also includes sidewalk love notes with temporary chalk, a community chalkboard in a Johannesburg township, a catalogue of neighbor's flat arrangements via post-its, and much more.

These ones focused on improving neighborhoods I find particularly inspiring:

I Wish This Was — "fill-in-the-blank stickers as an experiment to see what might happen if we could easily say what we want in these vacant spaces"

Neighborland — "organizations can ask questions to gather feedback from their community about particular places and pair the online page with signs in public space"

Hypothetical Development — "a public art project that creates signs depicting fanciful futures for neglected buildings in New Orleans."

All images from Candy Chang's site, where you can learn more about each project: 

Inspired yet? 

Ladies and gents, boys and girls — To promote and further contribute to this challenge (and in honor of International Women's Day, March 8), I would love it if you all shared a response to the following prompt.

"I am safest when _______."

Tweet a photo of you with your answer using #womenssafety—or, if you're not on Twitter, email to and I'll take care of it.

Even better: Conduct brief interviews in a low-income community near you, using this prompt, and share the photos as instructed above.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Great idea! will do soon!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Nice one, A-L. And perhaps you might get some of your students involved too?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

This is the plan... We're having an openSTORM on Wednesday:

Photo of Meena Kadri


Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Hey Anne-Laure – Curious: did you get a chance to do this exercise during the OpenSTORM?

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi, we did it as a group. I don't have the photo and thought it had been tweeted.
I've just sent an email and I'll make sure it's posted.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi, bottom picture show everyone standing after the "I feel safest when..."
Interestingly people had an easier time thinking of when they don't feel safe, that when they feel safe.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

I also tweeted mine but after the deadline. :-( sorry!

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Good observation about it being easier to think of time when one felt unsafe. Was that the case for both men and women in the group? — Also, goes to illustrate how true your version "...when I don't think about it" is. Perhaps to harder to think of an example because we don't note/think about it when it's true to begin with.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

There did not seem to have differences between men and women in the group but I did not do a systematic analysis. I think that often times we notice think when they don't go well: when we complain, when we're sad, when we're in pain... not often do we say to ourselves, or people around us, how happy I feel today? or I feel so good today!...

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

BLANK NOISE is asking a similar question this week ("when do you feel safe?"). Check out the responses coming in through Twitter.

(Someone said, "When I'm in Mumbai" is actually very telling. :))

View all comments