Shaping San Francisco hosts Public Talks on a variety of topics on Wednesday nights, about 18 times a year. One recurrent theme has been Historical Perspectives, which covers all sorts of topics that delve into our shared and disputed understandings of what shaped our world. Here are the Talks we held at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics at 518 Valencia Street in 2019.
Valencia Street as a Lesbian Corridor: Living Memories
Osento Bathhouse. Amelia’s. Artemis Cafe. Old Wives Tales. Modern Times Bookstore. Names and functions of these venues have changed, but they are part of the living memory of Valencia Street. Long before it descended into the white tablecloth, boutique-filled, gentrified peculiarity of today, the Valencia Street corridor was a hotbed of radical feminism and lesbian culture. LisaRuth Elliott moderates a conversation with some of the women who helped create the important sites and undergirded the intellectual and nightlife of the 1970s and 1980s. With Canyon Sam, Molly Martin, Carol Seajay, and Ruth Mahaney.
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November 13, 2019
Progress to Poverty: Land and Rents
On the 140th anniversary of Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, his land tax and radical reform of land use are worth a critical re-examination. Geographer Richard Walker along with Ted Gwartney of the California chapter of Common Ground USA, untangle what George proposed, what happened as a result of his ideas, and what the future holds. In conjunction with the San Francisco Public Library exhibit Who Owns the Earth? Henry George’s Progress & Poverty 140 Years Later
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November 6, 2019
Alcatraz Occupation: A Beginning
50 years ago this fall, on November 20, a group of people that came to be known as Indians of All Tribes began a 18-month occupation of Alcatraz Island. This act of self-determination emerged from conditions faced on reservations and in urban centers, from the activism of the Third World Strike at San Francisco State, and resulted in major changes taking place across the continent. From a new consciousness of sovereignty to at least ten major policy and law shifts, Mary Jean Robertson, host of the radio show Voices of the Native Nations, and Eloy Martinez and Debbie Santiago discuss the far reaching impact of claiming “the Rock”.
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October 23, 2019
Shellmounds, Indigenous Culture, and Ecology on the San Francisco Bay
250 years ago, life along the edges of what we now know as San Francisco Bay changed forever when the Portola Expedition came upon this hidden magnificent body of water. The Spaniards couldn’t quite understand it when they saw this marvelous sight for the first time on November 2, 1769, but this confluence of many rivers was a thriving home to thousands of people, not to mention an abundance of species of water, land, and sky. Join us to talk with Gregg Castro, t’rowt’raahl Salinan/rumsien Ohlone about the tens of thousands of years prior to European arrival, what remains from those times, and how we can honor the ways of life that persist despite centuries of colonial misuse of the land and water.
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October 2, 2019
Storytelling and the Memory Keepers
We bring together story shapers, story sharers, and story collectors for this evening taking a close look at oral histories and memory keeping. Susan Schwartzenberg hosts a discussion series at the Bay Observatory at the Exploratorium intertwining personal stories and scientific study to understand climate change, Brandi Howell and Mary Franklin Harvin of Tales from North Beach are currently producing a podcast series to document the aging, forgotten, and hidden people and places of North Beach, and Joe Lambert has 25 years of story gathering with the StoryCenter. The panel discusses talk spaces, moving beyond the anecdotal in exploring personal memory, and forging a culture that gives space for left out and unheard voices.
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May 29, 2019
Americans in the Spanish Civil War
International volunteers rushed to Spain in 1936 after General Francisco Franco led a military coup against the Spanish Republic. Adam Hochschild, author of Spain In Our Hearts, brings to life remarkable characters in this bloody and bitter conflict that consumed Spain for 3 years. 80 years ago this spring the conflict ended, leaving the country under three decades of military dictatorship
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April 10, 2019
Neighborhood Newspapers of San Francisco
A collaborative effort of the San Francisco Department of Memory, this project digitally preserves and promotes San Francisco community newspapers. Over 1,600 issues generated in eight neighborhoods dating back to the 1960s are now available online. Collection Project Manager LisaRuth Elliott, along with journalist and historian Elizabeth Creely, present highlights.
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February 6, 2019
Internment and its Aftermath
Chuck Wollenberg presents his new book Rebel Lawyer about Wayne Collins and his defense of Japanese-American rights during and after WWII. Novelist and essayist Karen Tei Yamashita shares her introduction to John Okada’s No-No Boy, the only 1950s novel to reflect on the post-Internment experience among Japanese-American families.
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January 23, 2019
Before San Francisco: Spanish and Mexican Peninsula
From the original encounters between local indigenous peoples and the first Spanish arrivals, to the spread of the disruptive Mission cattle-based economy, Mexican independence, and eventual abolition of Indian slavery, the peninsula that became San Francisco had a fascinating and overlooked pre-urban history. Author Adriana Camarena covers the period when Mexico was fragmenting and local Californios existed in a pastoral but brutal local world, depending on coerced Indian labor and a vast cattle plantation economy.
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