'Signs Of Hope' Brings Those Inspiring Subway Sticky Notes To Your Coffee Table — Excerpt


In the days following Donald Trump's election as president of the United States, Americans desperately searched for outlets for their grief, outrage, and disbelief. It was amidst this swirl of emotions that a powerful project became a beacon of hope for so many — the Subway Therapy project, through which thousands of New Yorkers poured their disbelief, grief, anger, and hope onto sticky notes and affixed them to the walls of subway stations throughout the city, creating those incredible rainbow mosaics you probably saw on TV and social media. Created by Matthew "Levee" Chavez," Subway Therapy became a national talking-point — proof that Americans always can and always will find a way to create something beautiful out of the worst of circumstances.

Nearly a year after the election, Chavez is bringing those inspiring notes to your coffee table with the release of Signs Of Hope: Messages from Subway Therapy, out now. The coffee table book is a vibrant reminder that you are not alone in your pain, your grief, and your anger, and that resistance is fueled by the collective hope of those who believe the future will be better.

Signs of Hope: Messages from Subway Therapy by Matthew "Levee" Chavez

In the book's introduction, Chavez describes the creation of the Subway Therapy project — and no, it didn't begin on Nov. 8. The project actually came into being much earlier, but it was officially branded as "Subway Therapy" in May 2016. A few weeks after he moved to New York City, Chavez began searching for ways to engage with New Yorkers in a meaningful way. He positioned himself at a subway station on the path of the L train, and set up a table, two chairs, a blank book, and a cardboard sign that said "Secret Keeper." Five minutes later, someone stopped by to ask what he was doing. Chavez told him to write down any truth that was weighing upon him. A movement was born.

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It wasn't until Election Day that Chavez introduced the sticky notes to his project. On his way to Union Square station, Chavez stopped at a store and picked up a few packages of sticky notes, remembering how his mother, a teacher, had used them to encourage her students to open up. He set up his chair, and wrote his own message: "I'm sad my friends are upset." Then people started coming. Some cried. Some just wanted to talk. Many wrote. Before long, there were thousands of messages, as well as hundreds of visitors, and news crews. Soon enough, the wall of messages could be seen all over television and social media. Walls of sticky notes began to emerge in cities across the country.

"Something was happening," Chavez writes. "I couldn't leave, so I called my best friend, Adam, who showed up with a bagful of sticky notes in all colors. Soon news crews arrived to capture footage of the scrum. By midnight there were two thousand handwritten notes on the wall, a mosaic of human emotion."

Below, see seven of the most powerful notes from the Subway Therapy project, all of which are featured in Signs of Hope:

1. A Reminder To Be Kind

"Hello Humanity, How beautiful you are when you're filled with love."

2. Empathy, Empathy, Empathy‌

"Practice radical empathy. Practice radical empathy. Practice radical empathy."

3. We Are Scared. We Will Survive.

"...we always survive with dignity and grace."

4. Fight Like A Girl


5. Do Not Doubt Small Acts Of Kindness & Beauty

Small acts of resistance matter.

6. Be Kind

"...for people are fighting a battle you know nothing about."

7. Go High

Take your cues from First Lady Michelle Obama.

8. Listen To One Another

Shares your stories and listen to others' stories.

9. Practice Self-Care

"There is nothing that blooms for the entire year."

Signs of Hope: Messages from Subway Therapy by Matthew "Levee" Chavez, $16, Amazon