The Backstory

The Backstory

They’re easy to miss if you don’t already know they’re there, embedded in the sidewalk next to the Seattle Mennonite Church. Thirty-two bronze leaves which, depending on the season and the time of day, can fade barely noticed into the background of the sidewalk, or shine as brightly as stars.

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The Leaves of Remembrance

Thirty-two Leaves of Remembrance are located in Lake City in front of the Seattle Mennonite Church, each one engraved with a name and year of birth and death, commemorating a life once lived in our community.

These Leaves are part of the Tree of Life project developed by WHEEL, a homeless women’s organizing effort. The Tree of Life sculpture in Victor Steinbrueck Park is the only permanent homeless memorial in the world.

The Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park near Pike Place Market.

 

The tree has two large branches with leaf-shaped holes stamped out of the iron. The fallen bronze Leaves of Remembrance symbolized by these holes are scattered throughout the City near places that people have felt connected to, including the Seattle Mennonite Church in Lake City.

The Mennonite Church became one of the first installation sites in 2012 when Sally Kinney, a member of WHEEL and founding member of the Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness, approached pastors Melanie and Jonathan Neufeld to ask for support for the project. Sally recently explained why she took her request to the Neufelds. “I have great admiration for Melanie and Jonathan and their work in Lake City”, she said.

“Over more than a decade, they have gathered the un-housed people in our area together, given them a home in God’s Little Acre, the Mennonites’ drop-in center, started first a night shelter in the church which graduated to a roving shelter in many different area churches, and perhaps most importantly, given them a voice in our community.”

“When I mentioned the Leaves project to them, it was with the intention of them adding another symbol of love they show to our outside neighbors: a place to permanently honor the fallen with these Leaves.”

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