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'Gratitude Tree' rooted in thankfulness, connects neighbors

Daina Stockwell and her 9-year-old daughter created a special tree in their front yard. Neighbors write messages on wood pieces and Stockwell hangs them up.

PORTLAND, Ore — When it comes to what you’re thankful for, what comes to mind? For 9-year-old Tatum Stockwell, that’s an easy question.

“I'm thankful for my friends and family. I'm thankful for my life and this earth,” she said.

In front of the Stockwells' home in Southwest Portland, a special idea has really gone out on a limb.

“It can be silly. This is kind of silly, but, but it makes me happy that makes other people happy,” said Tatum’s mom, Daina Stockwell. “I like to spread joy, so I’d like people to take away that it doesn't really take anything big.” 

Inspired by a book they read, Daina and Tatum have turned the tall tree outside their front door into a “Gratitude Tree.”

“Wouldn't it be cool if we could write what we're grateful for?” said Daina. “Rather than what we wish things would be like, or what we're wanting, but what we're actually grateful for right here now.”

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

When strong winds knocked a branch into their yard, Daina cut it into small disks and put them in a basket. Neighbors pass by and write what they’re thankful for on the disks. Over time, a small blue basket labeled “inbox” fills up and Daina hangs them from the tree with fishing line. She guesses she's hung about 100 since early November.

“The one over there that says ‘chocolate,’” pointed Tatum. “Which I think is extremely true, chocolate is delicious. Or like my dad put up, beer, that's somewhere over there,” she smiled.

Daina hopes what’s in these branches will take root and reach out far beyond her quiet street.

“I love the idea that its community, that I don't really feel like it's my tree, or our tree, I feel like it's everybody's,” said Daina. “And I like that everybody can say what they want to, and what they need to, and show others what they're grateful for.”

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