The World Tree of Hope – A San Francisco Holiday Tradition
A global holiday project promoting peace, love and humanitarianism by Rainbow World Fund for our community of San Francisco and for all people on earth.
The World Tree of Hope is a 20-25 foot holiday tree that is decorated with thousands of origami cranes and stars that are inscribed with people's wishes and hopes for the future of the world.
Wishes are sent in from all around the world by mail and email http://www.rainbowfund.org/tree/make-a-wish.html at the invitation of Mayor Ed Lee, First Lady Anita Lee and Rainbow World Fund (RWF). The wishes are printed and folded into origami cranes by a team of origami enthusiasts including survivors of the atomic bomb. The project is a collaboration between San Francisco's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and Japanese American communities and includes the participation of elementary, middle, and high school student in San Francisco. Over a hundred people have come together, donating over 1,000 hours to create the tree.
The World Tree of Hope was developed by Rainbow World Fund as a gift from the LGBT and friends community to the City that has been so pivotal in our struggle for civil rights. The first Tree of Hope was created in 2006 and was displayed at then Mayor Gavin Newsom's request in the Rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. That location has become the home for the tree. The tree is on display in City Hall for 30 days during the month of December where is it seen daily by thousands of visitors from around the world. The Tree of Hope was renamed The World Tree of Hope in 2010 in recognition of the global response to the project. The tree has the distinction of being the world's largest annual origami tree and in 2010 was name by American Express Traveler as number three of the Top Ten Christmas Trees in the world.
"The World Tree of Hope is an exciting community project and a chance for the City of San Francisco's compassion to be seen and heard throughout the world promoting peace and humanitarianism." - Mayor Gavin Newsom (2004 -2011).
The tree is inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, the little girl whose journey and death several years after the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, transformed the crane into a symbol of world peace (see Sadako's story below).
Notable wish contributors include: Dame Jane Goodall, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Frances Moore Lappe, Danielle Steel, and Stanley Gatti.
The World Tree of Hope, is created as a way to inspire hope and encourage people to think about what they would like for the future of the world. The project recognizes the needs and desires of individuals to participate in the global community and offers a way for people from all over the world to come together to express their hopes and intention. Through developing the Tree as a global art project and teaching tool; participation encourages individuals to experience the power of creation and individual action. During the final art display, the general public and Tree of Hope participants see the impact of how each crane, together with the cranes of many others, can become transformed into something beautiful—beyond the scope of one individual's efforts.
"The World Tree of Hope joins together individuals of diverse cultures, points of view, spiritual beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds and sexual identities, and taps into two of our most powerful resources – the human mind and heart – to give individuals a way to join together to express our hopes and intentions for the future of our global community." – Jeff Cotter, founder, Rainbow World Fund
The project also challenges people to get further involved and turn to their intentions into actions to help heal the world by supporting a variety of projects that are making a difference.
Sadako's Story: In 1955, the folded crane became known as a symbol of peace when the world learned the story of Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was two when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was home, about one mile from ground zero. Several years later, she developed the disease of the bomb – leukemia. While in the hospital, a friend brought her an origami crane and taught Sadako the Japenese legend that the folder of 1000 cranes is granted a wish. Sadako started folding but grew weaker with time and passed away 356 cranes short of her goal. Her classmates folded the rest. All 1000 were buried with Sadako. On the wings of the cranes, Sadako would write messages. One deeply profound message read, "I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world." Her hope, strength and determination have inspired millions.
Creators of The World Tree of Hope
Jeffrey A. Cotter ~ Founder-President, Rainbow World Fund
A native of the United Kingdom, Jeff founded Rainbow World Fund in 2000 based on his desire to make a difference in the world. He wanted to tap into the LGBT community’s strength to help others and change the public’s misperceptions of LGBT people. A psychiatric social worker specializing in trauma recovery and HIV/AIDS case management. He practices in San Francisco, California. Jeff has worked in the HIV/AIDS and LGBT civil rights fields since 1987.
Paul Stankiewicz, Artistic Director
This is Paul's sixth year as a RWF volunteer and he wears many hats. Paul divides his time between luxury retail helping people get what they desire and RWF helping people get what they need to survive, live and thrive. He has a gift (of the gab) that makes him a fantastic friend and fund raiser. As co-creator with Cotter and artist director of The World Tree of Hope, he is working hard to make RWF more visible in the LGBT and friends community.
Karen N. Kai, RWF Board Member
An independent research and writing consultant, Karen is a community activist who has served on the boards of local, statewide and national Asian American, civil and human rights organizations. She is a former Chairperson of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and served as co-chair of its LGBT Advisory Board.
Vicky Mihara- Avery
Specializing in Origami and Japanese paper arts, Vicky has lectured about “Tsutsumi” the Japanese art of gift wrapping at the Asian Art Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and on the Martha Stewart show and Good Morning America. She has provided paper-craft services to clients such as Industrial Light and Magic, VISA International, and Dr. Dobbs Journal. Her production company Origami Workshop has produced three instructional DVDs including The Art of Japanese Gift Wrap and Origami Fun For Kids. Vicky is one of the founders of the Pacific Coast OrigamiUSA Conference and was awarded the Michael Shall Volunteer Award from OrigamiUSA for her contributions to the continuing growth of origami in America.
Linda Tomoko Mihara
Linda is a third generation Japanese American who started folding origami at age 5. She is a professional Origami artist working in print and film. In addition, she has created large origami installations around the country, including the origami American Flag currently at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art Renwick Gallery in DC. She is also known internationally for her origami art, which has been featured in group exhibits around the world. She has won numerous awards, including the Innovation and Juror’s Awards at the California Fine Art Competitions.This is Linda’s fifth year participating in the Tree of Hope.
June began folding origami at age 7. Her many accomplishments in the field of origami include designing and creating the 1999 to 2006 Origami Holiday Tree at American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She has appeared on numerous television programs teaching origami including the Martha Stewart Living Show. She was the recipient of the "Golden Box Pleat Award" in 2005 for recognition of her International contribution in Origami and of the "Michael Shall Award" in 2005 recognizing her volunteerism in bridging East/West relations.
Dame Jane Goodall with Jeff Cotter and Paul Stankiewicz
2009 Tree of Hope
Chris Olsen decorates tree.
2008 Tree of Hope
Paul Stankiewicz decorates tree.
2007 Tree of Hope
Yes We Can crane.