An interactive art wall has been established in San Luis Obispo for community members to share their hopes and dreams. The San Luis Obispo Dream Wall is located on the side of Woodstock’s Pizza at 1000 Higuera St. Eighteen-year-old Lauren Frost created the Dream Wall with the help of her father.
Creating the Wall
Frost’s idea for the wall was sparked two years ago by the plethora of “interactive public art” in downtown San Luis Obispo, such as the painted utility boxes and Bubblegum Alley. She was also inspired by the concept of “Before I Die” walls, but she envisioned something less bucket list-oriented.
“I wanted a place where people could share their long-term goals,” Frost said.
Frost spent about a year scouting out possible locations. She needed a large, expansive wall with good foot traffic and she needed the building owner’s permission. During that time, she purchased a 4-by-8 weather-proof chalkboard “just because [my dad and I] believed in the project.”
Frost began to prime and prep the board when she felt she had potentially found building owners willing to host the wall. Finally, the Rossi family, owners of Woodstock’s Pizza, approved the wall and Frost began to paint the mural. The mural includes spaces for participants to write with colorful chalk in the decorative border. Two months later, the Dream Wall was installed and was offically revealed Oct. 15.
Frost, a senior at Mission College Preparatory College High School, often visits the Dream Wall after school. She refers to herself as the “in-house janitor.” Her biggest responsibilities are to periodically erase the board and replace the chalk. Frost and her father erase blocks of writing to ensure there are spots for visitors to fill, as they have found that people are hesitant to erase others’ dreams.
Before the wall was set up, Frost’s main concern was that people would deface it, but she has found that the situation has been self-policing.
“People see stuff that shouldn’t be on there, and they take it upon themselves to just erase it,” Frost said. “I think that’s a testimony to how great of a community we live in.”
Connecting and inspiring the community
For Frost, the best part of her experience with the wall has been the interaction with its visitors. She photographs people as they write their dreams on the wall, and then shares their stories and aspirations on Instagram (@slodreamwall).
“I put that my dream was to find a purpose, and to me it means pretty much everything because so often, especially as a college student, I wonder where I fit in in life and what my reason for being is,” economics freshman Eva Johnson said. “It feels good to know that the wall is there for everyone to be reminded that we all have dreams and we all have hopes, and it just seems like a really cool way to connect the community.”
Frost has noticed that many dreams on the wall have been related to seeing more support and love in the world, from helping others to changing family dynamics. She is happy the Dream Wall is a safe space for people to find and connect with others who share their values or to simply see things from different perspectives.
“It’s no longer something that I’ve made or that I’ve done,” Frost said. “With each person’s response, it becomes its own thing and it changes with each person’s dream, and I just think that’s a really cool thing.”
However, in order for those dreams to manifest, Mayor Heidi Harmon believes active change is necessary.
“I think it’s a small part of hopefully guiding people in a more positive way, but it’s going to take more heavy lifting to make more of a measurable difference in terms of kindness, civility and certainly on the bigger issues that were facing,” Harmon said.
Harmon hopes the Dream Wall will encourage San Luis Obispo residents to reach out to one another as well as to attend city council meetings and advocate for the change they seek. She urges dreamers to ask themselves what are they willing to do to create their dreams and to take action from there.