World Tree of Hope to Be Dedicated at S.F. City Hall

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SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and First Lady Anita Lee join the Rainbow World Fund (RWF), the only international humanitarian aid organization that is based in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community, 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 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.

The World Tree of Hope, a gift from the LGBT community to the world, was created by RWF as a way to inspire hope and encourage people to think about what they would like for the future of the world, and then take action.

It will feature over 7,000 white origami cranes and silver stars, each containing written wishes for the future of the world from individuals across the nation and around the globe. The wishes are printed and folded into thousands of cranes by a team of origami enthusiasts and volunteers.

The call for wishes has already been heard by thousands around the world, and the open invitation for wish submissions will continue throughout the holiday season and year round. RWF welcomes your wishes at www.rainbowfund.org/tree.

“The World Tree of Hope is an exciting community project and an opportunity for San Francisco, the birthplace of the United Nations, to promote peace and humanitarianism around the world,” said then-Mayor Gavin Newsom when the project was launched.

Wishes from national leaders to school children, from San Francisco to Sri Lanka, make the World Tree of Hope a powerful expression of people coming together to create better a world. Notable participants include President Barack Obama, Dame Jane Goodall, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Shirley Temple Black, Frances Moore Lappe, Danielle Steel, Patty Duke, Sharon Gless, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, RuPaul, Phyllis Diller and Stanlee Gatti.

Obama wrote, “I wish for a world for our children more just, more fair, and more kind than the one we know now.”

“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.

A collaboration of the LGBT and Japanese American communities, the project includes the participation of local elementary, middle, and high school students in San Francisco. It is inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki, the child whose journey and death transformed the origami crane into a symbol of world peace. Members of the volunteer team that fold the wishes into cranes include survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb.

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 those 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.

The official unveiling of the World Tree of Hope will take place at a public dedication ceremony Monday, Dec. 5, in San Francisco City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place. The ceremony is a free event that begins with a concert at 5:30 p.m. by the San Francisco Boys Chorus and continues with remarks scheduled for 6 p.m. by Mayor Lee. Donna Sachet will be the emcee. Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata will deliver a message of hope. Singer Veronica Klaus, accompanied by Tammy Hall, will entertain. A party with light refreshments and drinks will continue until 8 p.m.

The tree will be available for public viewing from Dec. 1 to Jan. 2. RWF and the City of San Francisco would like to acknowledge the Delancey Street Foundation for generously donating the 20-foot white fir tree this year.

Japantown community leader Karen Kai decorates the 2009 World Tree of Hope.

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