Want a say on the future of Minneapolis but too busy for a City Council meeting? A new art project will let you text your great ideas and maybe see them posted on digital billboards high above Hennepin Av and 7th St in Minneapolis or elsewhere around the metro area.

Called "Neighborland," the project is the brainchild of New Orleans artist Candy Chang (above) who pioneered it in her hometown as well as in Houston, Texas and Boulder, Colorado. She's a big proponent of real community engagement, not the ersatz type that pretends to sample public opinion but then ignores it. (Chang will talk at Walker Art Center, 7 p.m. April 26. The event is free, but already SOLD OUT.)

"What's really cool about this [billboard] process is that it's getting input from people who don't typically show up at the table," said Mary Altman, Public Arts Administrator for the City of Minneapolis. "I think these ideas will help shape the Hennepin plan, but it's not a situation where any one idea necessarily will be recommended. They will look for key themes and what's viable and doable."

The art billboards will be in action from 12:01 a.m. April 26 through 11:59 p.m. April 28, and possibly longer.

The interactive billboards will display questions about the city and how it might be improved. The future of Hennepin Av. is a particular concern. A flock of city departments, neighborhood groups, arts organizations and downtown concerns are working on plans to revitalize the avenue. Cleverly dubbed Plan-it Hennepin, that initiative includes Forecast Public Art, the Hennepin Theatre Trust, Walker Art Center, Artspace Projects and the City of Minneapolis.

"Before I die," another of Chang's interactive projects is on a wall at 2609 Stevens Av in  Whittier, part of that neighborhood's "Artists in Storefronts" project which runs April 27 through June 10. "Before I die" is a mural-sized chalkboard with those words printed on many lines followed by blank spaces in which passers by can complete the sentence. Shortly after the chalkboard was installed the lines were filled, often with poignant remarks. Sentences range from "Before I die I want to live in Europe" to "Before I die I want to tell my parents I'm gay."

The billboards are co-sponsored by Forecast, a Twin Cities-based agency, and Clear Channel Outdoor which manages the displays.

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