SEATTLE — A quiet street corner in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood actually has a lot to say.
On the corner of East Galer and 21st Avenue East, thousands of people have written their desires on small pieces of paper and hung them on a Wishing Tree.
"There are not a lot of places in the world today where we're encouraged to just access our hearts,” said Jane Hamel, who owns the tree. "It's a pause in our everyday lives."
Wish Trees are an ancient tradition, and Hamel became aware of them while living in San Francisco — but she didn't have space to create one. When she moved to Seattle several years ago, the tree on her property was an ideal shape
"This tree has been here probably 100 years, and these two branches kind of reach over the sidewalk in this really sweet way,” she said.
Hamel set out pens, paper, and instructions. Neighbors later contributed a table and seating. And before long, the wishes began pouring in.
The messages are moving — "deepening connection and love with my husband” — and simply sweet — "I wish I had a skateboard."
Some are signed and some are anonymous.
All were written by people just passing through.
"A lot of people, it's taking the time to walk and then when they see something like this, it could be a nice opportunity to stop and think about their lives and make a wish, or maybe just be grateful for their lives,” said neighbor Manu Caiafa.
Amber Nguyen spent several minutes reading others’ wishes before making her own: to pass her final exam and become a great ER nurse.
"I think we have to believe in the universe, just putting it out there sometimes and letting the universe do it's thing,” she said.
Hamel laminates each and every one. Whatever the language and however specific the wish, they all represent something universal: hope.
"I think a lot of my wishes for myself are reflected here, and it's nice to see what other people want in their lives,” said Angelique Regondola, who wished to protect her peace and accept and spread love. "And to write that down too, so you remember that. Because you remember what you write. So that's also pretty powerful. I think honestly it's a space for people to be vulnerable, and vulnerability attracts a lot of people."
Hamel will never know how many of the wishes come true, but when the branches begin to sag she harvests and stores them — making room for more dreams to bloom.
And they always do.
"Because really what it is, is a place to open your heart,” she said. “The majority of these wishes are all about adding more love, more care. There's so much hope here, and I feel when you're in the presence of that much hope, it has a ripple effect. It is a lot of work, but look at all that love."