Shaping San Francisco hosts Public Talks on a variety of topics on Wednesday nights, about 18 times a year. Our topic themes vary, but we've grouped them over time into these categories: Art & Politics, Ecology, Historical Perspectives, Literary, and Social Movements.
Here are videos of the Talks we held at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics at 518 Valencia Street in Fall 2017.
San Francisco's Freeway Revolt
Today’s San Francisco and our village-like neighborhoods, charming architecture, and quality of life is indebted to the Freeway Revolt that shocked the nation between 1956 and 1965. Most histories have focused on the politicians and city leaders who argued and voted in those years, overlooking the vital role of the emergent middle-class women who spearheaded the Revolt, and kept it going against overwhelming odds. Decades later, a second Freeway Revolt helped reclaim the Embarcadero and Hayes Valley from the blight of freeways, leaving us in the current configuration we have today. With Jason Henderson, Evelyn Rose, Chris Carlsson
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Popular Front to the Cold War
In November 1938, California elected its first-ever liberal Democratic governor Culbert Olson, supported by a state-wide Popular Front coalition of liberals, unionists, communists, and other radicals. But by 1940 the Popular Front forces were already fracturing and from its wreckage emerged key elements of the Cold War. How did Communists help build this social movement, and how did the Communist Party undercut its own principles during WWII? And where did that leave California politics at the end of WWII and the beginning of the long post-war economic boom? With Jonathan Hunt, Chris Carlsson
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& Politics: Seth Eisen "OUT of Site"
Seth Eisen and James Metzger and collaborators Colin Creveling, Rayan Hayes, Mary Vice, and Diego Gomez bring to life research and performance excerpts from Eye Zen Presents's newest project (a collaboration with Shaping SF)—a series of queer history performance-driven walking tours through the streets of San Francisco. This performative talk explores the ways that queer people have historically created community, how our communities have adapted over time, and ways we might sustain and nurture our historical and cultural queer essence. Revealing new ways to envision and preserve queer heritage, Eisen covers events such as the country’s first homeless queer youth movement, Vanguard of the 1960s, and the Compton’s Cafeteria riots which predated New York’s Stonewall riots; popular American dances which have roots in cross-dressing Gold Rush stag dances and early gay clubs; the 19th century out gay author of early SF bohemian literati, Charles Warren Stoddard; the life of late 19th century transgender writer and social activist Jack Garland; and the infamous queer gathering spots of the prohibition era Pansy Craze.
This Public Talk was made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
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100th Anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution
Few events in the past century equal the importance of the Russian Revolution. And yet we only know it through the fog of propaganda and fear, and the actual events of 1917 are long forgotten in the mists of time. Find out what actually happened in that fabled year, and how it fit together with the world events of that epoch. Longtime Russian scholar Anthony D’Agostino (SF State) joins Anarchist scholar from socialist Yugoslavia Andrej Grubacic (CIIS) to unpack some of those tangled histories and together we’ll connect it to San Francisco then and now.
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October 18, 6 pm Offsite Event!
50th Anniversary of Stop the Draft Week Protests
Join the California Historical Society, Shaping San Francisco, and the Oakland Public Library, Main Branch, for a panel discussion that explores the intentions, planning, and outcomes of the historic October 1967 protests against the United States draft and the Vietnam War in general. Hear from organizers, including members of the “Oakland Seven,” who were tried for conspiracy and found not guilty by an Oakland jury, and from historians and others who will share context and stories of that era. With Frank Bardacke, Karen Jo Koonan, and Charles Wollenberg, and Chris Carlsson moderating. Event at the Oakland Public Library Main Branch, 125 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
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Speeding Through the Unseen, from Coding to Commons
Ellen Ullman writes in her new book Life in Code “The penetration of technology into the interstices of human existence is nearly complete,” and then demystifes how humans turn their intentions and ideas into the computer codes that are the language of computers. Katja Schwaller puts “Twitterlandia” under the microscope of her critical gaze, showing how the reconfiguration of mid-Market embodies a larger capture and repurposing of public space by private interests. And Dennis Hayes, a long-time tech writer and author of an early critique of Silicon Valley, brings his own historical and political chops to bear on our current predicament, both obsessed with and deeply oppressed by the technosphere that speeds up our lives to the breaking point even while it presents itself as the answer to everything.
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Art and Architecture During the Depression
The Maritime Museum at Aquatic Park recently underwent extensive renovation, bringing to public view murals and sculptures from the WPA that have long been hidden and overlooked. Other beautiful artworks grace public buildings throughout the East Bay and San Francisco, including Coit Tower, and on Treasure Island, where Maritime Museum artists went on to create work for the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Join Richard Everett (Maritime Museum), Anne Schnoebelen (Treasure Island Museum), and Harvey Smith (Living New Deal) for a revealing discussion of the art, architecture, and politics that challenged the economic impoverishment of the Depression by inspiring flourishing public art.
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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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