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 the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics at 518 Valencia Street in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
September 27, 2017
Other Food Systems Are Possible
The Diggers served free food in an effort to address a massive influx of young people to the Haight during the Summer of Love and the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast Program for youth began soon after. Drawing from this same desire to reimagine food systems, food conspiracies flourished in communes in the early 1970s and the People’s Food System built a network of stores and distributors out of this collective framework. Three worker-owned cooperatives survive — including Other Avenues Grocery — alongside various contemporary urban agriculture projects, continuing to address the where from and how of our food consumption. With Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff (author of Other Avenues are Possible: A History of the San Francisco People’s Food System) and Antonio Roman-Alcalá (independent food systems activist-scholar) we look at historic and current examples to use food systems to challenge the political and economic dictates of our world. Join a critical discussion asking if and how these are working to achieve their stated goals of political-economic change.
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May 10, 2017
From the Delta to the Bayshore: Adaptation Infrastructure and Rising Seas
Tim Stroshane (Restore the Delta) and Brenda Goeden (San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission) discuss the politics and prospects of facing our rapidly changing future around and health of the bayshore. Wetlands restoration, Sea Level Rise, Delta Tunnels, Clean Water Act, future of EPA, and more.
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February 8, 2017
Citizen Science/Extinction Culture
Doing science and making culture are increasingly intertwined as more and more amateur naturalists crowdsource the multi-layered experience of life on this planet. Authors of two new books Mary Ellen Hannibal (Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction) and Ursula Heise (Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species) illuminate the tangled, dynamic processes of thinking and doing that help us understand where we are and what we can—or ought to—do about living through this heartbreaking Great Extinction.
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November 30, 2016
The common wild species in cities—pigeons, dandelions, snails—are at best unloved. But writer Nathanael Johnson and artist Mona Caron ask us to give our attention to the urban wilderness. Learning to truly see our nonhuman neighbors can make life richer, and might just be the first step in more complex understandings of the wild and of ourselves in nature. Jason Mark (Sierra editor) moderates. Co-hosted by Nature in the City
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May 11, 2016
What’s Going Right with the Global Environment!
Will Grant researches successes in global movements on climate change and environmental solutions. His work is creating understandable paths to an economy that is sustainable and even environmentally regenerative. Meanwhile, Tom Athanasiou directs Eco-Equity, a small but vital contributor to the global negotiations over climate change. Enthusiastic hope and acerbic realism meet head-to-head in this panorama of environmentalist politics and practice.
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April 27, 2016
Oil, Soil, and (Climate) Turmoil
Decades after the Alaska oil pipeline began, we’ve gone through repeated booms and busts in oil production and prices. Antonia Juhasz has studied the history of the oil business and is one of the world’s best-informed critics of the industry. She is joined by Leila Salazar-Lopez of Amazon Watch, a group confronting oil giants in the Amazon, and by Joshua Kahn-Russell, author of A Line in the Tar Sands. All three explain the current balance of forces, and the prospects for keeping the “oil in the soil.”
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April 13, 2016
Synthetic Biology: DIY Tinkering Meets Big Capital
In the midst of the ongoing tech boom in the Bay Area, the biotech industry gets less attention than social media and “sharing” unicorns. What is going on with the push for “synthetic biology”? What are the implications for politics, manufacturing, medicine? Will the boundary between life and artifice persist? How do embedded paradigms reflect deeper assumptions about the structure of modern life? with Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks, and Tito Jankowski.
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December 2, 2015
Tending the Urban Wild
Foraging is a fantastic way to learn about the urban natural habitat and cultivate our local food sources. It is also becoming a fashionable urban treasure hunt. Artist and Guerrilla Grafter Margaretha Haughwout shares some simple gestures that can generate as well as preserve the urban commons, urban agriculturalist Antonio Roman-Alcalá takes a critical look at privatization of the urban wild and the groundwork laid by grassroots activists.
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May 13, 2015
Plumbing California: Past, Present, and Future
Governor Jerry Brown is determined to build the Delta Tunnels through the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta. The once-and-future Peripheral Canal is the latest plumbing scheme to follow the damming and diking of rivers and swamps which began with intensive Chinese manual labor in the 19th century. California has already radically altered its plumbing, but we’ll also look to future efforts at riparian restoration, dam deconstruction, and maintaining or altering our massive hydrological infrastructure. Tim Stroshane, Jason Rainey, and Scott Kildall (w/ 3-D maps of SF’s water infrastructure).
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May 6, 2015
Rewilding and the Anthropocene
In a world where every inch has been impacted—directly or indirectly—by industrial society, what does it mean to “preserve nature”? How does the idea of adaptation shape our responses to extinction, climate chaos, and nature? How does our sense of “history” shape our ideas about nature, evolution, and conservation? How should we understand and value natural processes, wildness, and human technologies? With Peter S. Alagona, Annalee Newitz, and Noah Greenwald. Co-hosted by Wild Equity Institute.
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April 22, 2015
Telling Stories with Bricks
Bricks give literal structure to a history of place. Bricks were a fire proof building material in early years of a city often engulfed by fire. Archeology work at the Presidio reveals plant time capsules embedded in recovered bricks that help us understand pre-settler ecology. And brick throwing increasingly confronts our current landscape of evictions and displacement. Featuring Ruth Askevold, Lew Stringer, and LisaRuth Elliott. Co-hosted by Wild Equity Institute.
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February 4, 2015
San Francisco’s Wild Menu: Flora, Fauna, Feast
In 1849 San Francisco was surrounded by wild animals and a flourishing sea and bay, from which most early food was taken. But what is our “wild menu” now? How do foraging, fishing, hunting, and gathering fit into modern life? What role does conservation and ecology play in a contemporary and future wild menu? With Mark Heath, Kirk Lombard, and Chris Carlsson. Co-hosted by Wild Equity Institute and Nature in the City.
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