Seeing rainbows through the storm


A lone runner jogs past a large rainbow near Haight St.

Story and photos by Andrea Williams

As the world attempts to cope with a global pandemic and many countries enforce social distancing, it is easy to feel hopeless and alone. But in the midst of it all, people are choosing to share messages of peace, love and hope- through the safety of their windows.

Images of painted rainbows with hopeful messages hanging from balconies and windows first emerged in Italy during their strict nation-wide quarantine. Since then, the rainbows have spread to the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the United States.

In San Francisco, the sky frequently changes from blue to grey and the normal sounds of people shouting and cars honking are absent. Many shops have boarded up their entrances. As people struggle with social distancing and city streets are eerily empty, it is comforting to see a colorful and hopeful spirit peeking through the blinds.

The Iconic, tie-dye-filled clothing store “Love on Haight”, like many business, closed its doors and boarded its windows due to San Francisco’s shelter-in-place orders. “We will survive” is written across their boarded windows in red spray paint.
A rainbow and colorful words of encouragement spotted in the Outer Sunset.
Message of hope sprawled across a window in post-it-notes.
Rainbow spotted in the Richmond neighborhood.
Multi-colored paper heart cut-outs fill the front window of a home in Cole Valley.
Butterflies and home-made paintings add some brightness and color to a grey San Francisco day.
A Thank You message to all essential workers with a hand-drawn rainbow is on display in the Inner Sunset.
Painted hearts and rainbows fill the front window of this San Francisco home.
A large, pink heart made from post-it-notes looks out over the city on the top floor of an apartment building.
A large rainbow, drawn with chalk, covers the entire garage of a home in the Sunset district.
Cheerful child paintings are spotted in a small window.
Small words of solidarity spotted in an alley off Mission St.
“Resist Fear, Assist Love” and a teddy bear in a face mask and scrubs stare out to the street in the Mission district.
A peace sign lights up an evening near Haight Street
Colorful, homemade messages of hope and safety advice fill a window.
Colorful paintings filled with rainbows and bilingual affirmations face the street.
Strings of colorful paper cut-out hearts fill all the front facing windows in this house by Golden Gate Park.
Small rainbows fill little boxes in the windows of this two story home by Ocean Beach.