World Tree of Hope at S.F. City Hall

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SAN FRANCISCO – Mayor Edwin Lee and First Lady Anita Lee join the Rainbow World Fund (RWF) to invite the people of the world to submit wishes to decorate the World Tree of Hope in San Francisco City Hall’s Grand Rotunda.

A unique and inspirational feature of San Francisco’s holiday season since its inception in 2006, the World Tree of Hope has evolved into a global symbol of unity and hope for a better world. It is the largest origami-decorated holiday tree in the world, standing 25 feet tall and decorated with over 12,000 origami cranes and stars, each hand-folded and inscribed with wishes for the future of the world.

Origami artist Linda Mihara is among the volunteers who lend their talents to the Tree of Hope project every year.

Origami artist Linda Mihara is among the volunteers who lend their talents to the World Tree of Hope project every year.

The tree is a gift to the world from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, created by RWF to inspire hope and to encourage people to think about what they would like for the future of the world, and then take action.

The tree is available for public view until Jan. 2, 2014 at City Hall, 1 Dr.Carlton Goodlett Place (Van Ness and Grove streets). The official tree-lighting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Speakers and performers will include Mayor Lee, the Grammy-winning San Francisco Boys Chorus, singer Veronica Klaus, emcee Donna Sachet, Consul General of Japan Masato Watanabe (presenting a peace crane to the city) and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Admission is free.

People worldwide can help decorate the tree by simply sharing their wish for the future. Wishes are sent in from around the world by mail and online at http://rainbowfund.org/tree. The wishes are then printed and folded into origami cranes by a diverse team of volunteers, including members of San Francisco’s LGBT and Japanese American communities, survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, local children, and life-sentence prisoners from San Quentin.

The origami “crane wishes” are then placed on the tree. Submitting a wish for the tree is free and open to everyone. Wishes will be added to the tree throughout December and are accepted year-round. Over 300 people come together, donating over 2,500 hours to create the tree.

The tree is inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, the child whose journey and death several years after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima transformed the origami crane into a symbol of world peace.

Wishes on the tree have come from such notables as President Barack Obama, Dame Jane Goodall, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Arianna Huffington, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Isabel Allende, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Mariela Castro, Shirley Temple Black, Frances Moore Lappe, Danielle Steel, Patty Duke, Sharon Gless, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Phyllis Diller, Stanlee Gatti and RuPaul. See sampling of wishes at www.rainbowfund.org/tree/celebrity-wishes.html.

“The World Tree of Hope 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.” says RWF Executive Director Jeff Cotter.

About Rainbow World Fund

Founded in 2000, RWF is an international humanitarian charity based in the LGBT and friends community. RWF’s mission is to promote LGBT philanthropy in the area of world humanitarian relief. RWF works to help people who suffer from hunger, poverty, disease, oppression, and war by raising awareness and funds to support relief efforts and sustainable development projects around the world.

RWF currently supports projects focusing on global HIV/AIDS, water development, landmine eradication, hunger, education, orphans, and disaster relief worldwide. RWF is the first and only LBGT-based humanitarian aid organization. RWF also works to raise awareness of the charitable contributions of the LGBT community, and to establish connections with non-LGBT communities. RWF programs increase LGBT visibility, serving as a platform for LGBT compassion and concern.

RWF’s philosophy: “We are all ‘one human family’ and we are living in a time that tells us that our survival on this planet depends on us all giving more to each other. We bring people together who believe that together we can heal the world. We believe that LGBT people, like all people, have a unique role in world healing. RWF is part of that healing. We are working to change the separation consciousness that is underlying the disparity in the world – how people feel divided in the world today – by racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on. RWF is about remind people that we are really all part of one big global family and that we need to help each other.”

Sadako’s Story

In 1955, the origami crane became an international symbol of peace when the world learned the story of Sadako Sasaki. Ten years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, 12-year-old Sadako contracted leukemia. While in the hospital, a friend told her about a Japanese legend that the folder of a thousand paper cranes would be granted one wish. Sadako started folding but grew weaker with time.

Her wish to be healed grew into a wish for peace for all the world. Sadako passed away and was 356 cranes short of her goal. Her classmates folded the rest and all 1,000 were buried with her. On the wings of her 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 to this day. A children’s campaign honoring Sadako’s hope, strength and determination led to the creation of the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima’s Peace Park.

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  1. It has been my delight to work with Linda Mihara over the last eight years creating the World Tree of Hope. Here is a little bit about this great artist: 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. She is the artistic director for the tree. Thank you Linda! — Jeff Cotter, Executive Director, Rainbow World Fund

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