The Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk, Thousand Wonders)

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu

And such lights of hope dawn every night in San Francisco. After sunset, the 6,000-watt beacon atop the Transamerica Pyramid gleams like a Christmas-tree star.

At the InterContinental Hotel — currently sparsely booked — management has been lighting up windows across several floors to create the shape of a heart. Images of clapping hands and fluttering prayer flags dance across the six-story LED art installation atop the Salesforce Tower.

The InterContinental Hotel staff has been lighting up windows across several floors to create the shape of a heart. (Photo courtesy of InterContinental Hotel/Facebook)

And you can set your watch by the howling — at precisely 8 p.m. for the past few weeks, people leading sheltered lives amid the COVID-19 crisis have ventured out on front porches and opened their windows wide to howl, hoot, clap or whistle — all an effort to look on the bright side and support the front-line health care workers, delivery people, first responders and others in businesses declared essential.

“We wanted to provide a sign of hope and honor health care workers throughout the Bay Area who are performing vital work,” said Elaine Chan, general manager of JLL, the company that manages the 853-foot-tall Transamerica building.

The tip-top beacon is usually only lit for major holidays or special occasions “like when the Niners win,” she said. It can be seen from the East and North bays.

These kinds of symbolic acts have been going on around the country and the world since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in early March.

Seniors in an Orlando high-rise have been flicking their lights to show solidarity with doctors and nurses. People in Italy have been singing and playing music on their balconies. And Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue is illuminated with images of continents and flags from many countries, signaling a unified world effort.

Folks have been reaching out locally too.

In Berkeley, someone recently taped a large hand-painted sign on the University Avenue pedestrian overpass above Interstate 80 reading, “It will all be OK!”

In Walnut Creek, tech/media firm One Planet launched, a nonprofit site for people around the world of all religious and non-religious backgrounds to join together in a chain of continuous prayers and positive reflections.

“We are one humanity and we collectively are experiencing suffering, loss and uncertainty,” said One Planet CEO Payam Zamani.

And in Alameda, resident and artist Patti Cary, known for her annual Halloween home-decor contest, is now doing a free “Wonder Your Window!” citywide decorating contest with prizes, which will contribute $5 to Alameda Meals on Wheels for every entry. If you’re in Alameda, go to

“Windows are an easy way to send a message of hope and kindness, spread a little joy,” Cary said.

* Readers: Have you seen or created any signs of hope in response to the crisis — signs, banners, lights, displays, messages? We’d love to hear from you. Send us photos or comments.