Shaping San Francisco hosts Public Talks on a variety of topics on Wednesday nights, about 18 times a year. One recurrent theme has been Ecology and urban nature. Here are the Talks we held at CounterPULSE at 1310 Mission Street in 2010 and 2011.
November 9, 2011
In Search of San Francisco's Eradicated Landscapes
It is a common assumption that street grids were imposed easily on San Francisco’s original landscape, resulting in the City’s photogenic hillside streets that poke up from otherwise large flat planes. We assume that the imposition of these grids was benign. But digging under the streets of early San Francisco, architect and mapper Glenn Lym finds that much of San Francisco’s flatland was created from land forms that were quite different from what we know today.
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October 26, 2011
K. Ruby, Esperanza Pallana, and Melinda Stone, three experts on Urban Homesteading, bring their wit and intelligence to a wide-ranging presentation on the growing phenomenon. Ruby is co-author of Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living. Esperanza Pallana is behind the website pluckandfeather.com, and part of the farmfoodconnect site too, and will help focus on how food sovereignty and the right to grow and raise our own food in the city is becoming one of the biggest legal battles of the decade. Melinda Stone is the moving force behind the "11 in 11" workshops, taking homesteading skills to the 11 electoral districts over 11 months in 2011. She is also the videographer responsible for the enormously informational "How to Homestead" videos.
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September 28, 2011
Did Laguna Dolores Exist?
Christopher Richard, curator of Aquatic Biology at Oakland Museum, reexamines the legend of a “now vanished” fresh water lake believed to have been located in the heart of the Mission District, Laguna Dolores. The lake is part of the founding story of San Francisco — it’s written about in history books, mentioned in encyclopedias, but after studying at least 100 maps of the San Francisco peninsula drawn before 1912 Richard has come up with a new theory.
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September 14, 2011
Endangered Species Campaigning
Endangered Species is an artwork by Todd Gilens that wrapped four San Francisco Muni buses in images of locally endangered species. Reintroducing these animals into the urban scene that displaced them, the project dramatizes the priorities and conflicts which shape habitat for both humans and animals. Wild Equity Institute's Brent Plater, and Tuolomne River Trust's and salmon advocate Jessie Raeder join Todd in discussion.
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June 8, 2011
Ecology and Food of the 1970s: Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78
Travel back in time to hear of urban farms, collectives distributing organic foods, the fight to save the mountain (San Bruno), and how the anti-war movement galvanized a movement to save the earth. Contributors to Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78 Pam Peirce, Jana Blankenship, David Schooley, and Chris Carlsson read from essays in the book.
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March 30, 2011
Reciprocal Bio-Regional Culture from the Bay Area to the Sierras
The indigenous peoples who formed bio-regional “culture-sheds” aligned with natural watersheds in California to start our eco-history – with particular focus on the Bay Area and delta areas. It continues with a short history of the California gold mining culture that emerged in the mid-1800's undermining native peoples as well as the natural environment. Find out about unintended consequences, serendipitous connections, and the emergent water-based politics and culture of the 21st century with a dynamic panel discussing the historical and emerging relationships among humans, and between humans and the waterways on which they live. With Ruth Askevold, Cartographic Specialist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute's Historical Ecology Program; Jessie Raeder, of the Tuolumne River Paddle to the Sea, a coalition of river advocates called SalmonAid, and the Yuba River Source to Sea project that inspired her unlimited enthusiasm for wild rivers and wild salmon; Michael Whitson, a long-time Bay Area culture maker, co-founder of 848 Community Space and CounterPULSE, and a land venture called "Yuba Libre" on the Yuba River; and Derek Hitchcock, a Berkeley-based ecologist and sixth generation northern Californian who grew up in the watershed of the Yuba River, and producer of the "21st century Assessment of the Yuba River Watershed," for the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL).
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February 23, 2011
Underground Food Politics
With urban homesteading all the rage and backyard and vacant lot food production on the rise it appears we're taking big steps toward encouraging self-sufficiency in the Bay Area. For sure people's requirements for connection to their food has changed. But how much do the popular local underground food movements fit within a drive to control one's own food sources as in food sovereignity? How much are they used as a stepping stone into the market for boutique products and small-business creation? With Iso Rabins of ForageSF and the Underground Market, Antonio Roman-Alcalá of the SF Urban Agriculture Alliance and the SF Permaculture Guild, and Leif Hedendal, underground chef.
February 16, 2011
Vanished Waters: A History of San Francisco's Mission Bay
Today Mission Bay is the moniker for a new UCSF biomedical campus. Some urban explorers know there is a Mission Creek with a houseboat community, too. In conjunction with the 2nd edition of the book Vanished Waters, we take a visual cruise through the industrial and watery past of this former tidal bay, fed by the fresh waters of several local creeks and streams. With Chris Carlsson, and Bob Isaacson and Ginny Stearns from the Mission Creek Conservancy.
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January 26, 2011
Environmental History of Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a beautiful and complex landscape with a great diversity of natural, historic, and recreational features. It is a much different place from, not only what it was before the city of San Francisco, but, increasingly, what John McLaren, its visionary 19th century superintendent, envisioned for it as a sylvan retreat from urban life. We explore the natural history, the natural landscape, and the natural politics of Golden Gate Park with dedicated Golden Gate Park advocates, historians, and managers, discussing a vision for the great park's future built on an excavation of its fascinating past. Gray Brechin, Greg Gaar, and Brent Dennis of the SF Parks and Recreation Department give us a rich and diverse multitude of perspectives. Co-presented by Nature in the City.
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November 17, 2010
Watersheds from California to Mexico
One of the emerging zeitgeists of our era is the rediscovery of the water beneath our cities, and redefining the places we are in through awareness of our watersheds. Derek Hitchcock of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL); Joel Pomerantz, a San Francisco water historian; and Sarah Kelly and Arthur Richards, co-directors of Adapting to Scarcity, share their knowledge and find the common streams uniting their work around indigenous communities reliant on waterways, and the possibilities of transformation present in the struggles around the contamination of and dams built on them.
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November 10, 2010
Eco-Politics, a Strategic Roundtable
Starhawk; Doug Bevington, The Rebirth of Environmentalism; and Jay Rosenberg, of Hayes Valley Farm, start an open discussion as veterans of numerous political and ecological campaigns, in a broad attempt to think strategically about how to go beyond the narrow agendas of so many organizations, and the myopia that afflicts all too many eco-activists. From permaculture activism to eco-justice campaigns in Oakland and San Francisco, to a wider look at the deep incompatibility of capitalism and ecological health, everything is on the table.
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May 26, 2010
Twin Peaks Bioregional Park: A Conservation Strategy for the Heart of San Francisco
The Twin Peaks Bioregion is the hilly heart of San Francisco—the top of the City's watersheds— from the oak woodlands of Golden Gate Park to Glen Canyon, and from Hawk Hill to Buena Vista Park. Nature in the City's vision for a Twin Peaks Bioregional Park would consolidate 10-12 different City jurisdictions into one management entity for the protection, restoration, and connectivity of one of the most open space and biodiverse rich parts of San Francisco. With Peter Brastow of Nature in the City; Tom Radulovich of Livable City and the BART Board; Greg Gaar, of Haight-Ashbury Native Plant Nursery and a natural historian; and Craig Dawson of Mt. Sutro Stewards and the Inner Sunset Merchants Association. Co-presented by Nature in the City.
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May 12, 2010
Circle the Food Wagons!—Local Food Economies
The politics of local food encompasses gardens, farmers' markets, urban farms, gleaning, free food stands, community supported agriculture, micro-farming, and much more! Learn from Jay Rosenberg from Hayes Valley Farm, two folks from the Free Farm, John Garrone from Far West Fungi at the Heart of the City Farmers' Market, and Brooke Budner from Little City Gardens about the nuts and bolts of how San Francisco gets fed now, and how it might become more self-reliant in the years to come, thanks to the experiments and projects already under way.
February 24, 2010
San Francisco Golf Courses, Parks, Natural Areas
Casey Allen explains why Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica (owned by the city of San Francisco) has become a point of sharp controversy, pitting golfers against endangered species. The City's budget is strained by the impossibility of maintaining a failing, moribund golf course while recreational needs go unmet, while facing threats to endangered species and habitat lawsuits. Co-presented by Nature in the City
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January 27, 2010
Not only are trees and "urban forests" the most prominent features of the city's "natural" landscape, they are the city’s biggest biomass. Tree choices influence habitat resources for countless less obvious, but no less important species of flora and fauna. Doug Wildman of Friends of the Urban Forest and Josiah Clark debate the facts about trees, "forests," and woodlands in San Francisco, discussing also the benefits and drawbacks of specific tree species and issues in the city, as they relate to habitat, aesthetics, and the human experience of nature in the city. Co-presented by Nature in the City
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