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.
Since Covid-19 disrupted our use of the 518 Valencia Street gallery for our Public Talks after March 2020, we have started hosting outdoor "Urban Forum: Walk and Talks" which turned out to be as or more popular than our original Public Talks series.. This page has the Walk & Talks from 2023 and if we get to hold some indoor Talks later this year, we'll add them here too.
September 22, 2023
San Francisco Natural History with Greg Gaar
Greg Gaar shows over 100 photos covering the history of San Francisco's natural features including the sand dunes, grasslands, trees, lakes, creeks, tidal marshes and rock formations. He discusses the efforts by government agencies and volunteers to preserve what remains of San Francisco's natural heritage.
An Autumnal Equinox co-presentation with Planet Drum Foundation who celebrates 50 years of actively recognizing and appreciating our life-places (bioregions).
This event is a collaboration with Shaping San Francisco's 25th year celebrations. <iframe src="https://archive.org/embed/san-francisco-natural-history-with-greg-gaar-2023" width="640" height="480" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" allowfullscreen></iframe>
August 26, 2023
Bicycle Messenger Crackdown Commemoration Ride
A social bike ride commemorating police crackdowns on bike messengers in San Francisco back in the 1970s-1990s. Howard Williams, Mark Rowe, and Kash bring their memories to this August 2023 ride. Left out of this is our stop at the Grant Building at 1095 Market Street where we spoke about the early history of Critical Mass and the 1996 Cycle Messenger World Championships which had their organizing offices in the building. The last stop was at the Proj Lodge on Sutter between Baker and Broderick, but by then the camera had disappeared with Chris Carlsson's broken back wheel.
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June 14, 2023
San Francisco and the New Deal
Gray Brechin presents a far-ranging overview of the New Deal and its legacy in San Francisco. Public works include parks, public art, schools, the zoo, roads and bridges, and more. Speaking as the chief scholar of the Living New Deal project (livingnewdeal.org), Brechin is uniquely capable of bringing context and insight to a retrospective analysis of the one time in U.S. history when the government actually put the needs and interests of the large part of the population ahead of the immediate needs of Capital and the owners of corporations. A lively discussion follows at the end.
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May 20, 2023
Food and Baseball in SOMA and the Mission District
The Last Urban Forum Walk'n'Talk of Spring 2023 season, this is on the twin themes of Food and Baseball! Billed originally as a Mission District walk, we actually began at 8th and Market on the site of the old 1890s Central Park, and later the site of the Crystal Palace Market. Our trek took us to 8th and Harrison for some baseball history sweetened by an earlier sugar factory, then a saga of offal and stench near the 1857 Brannan Street bridge, on to Seals Stadium and Hamms Beer brewery, a glance at American Can Co. and Best Foods factory, then across the Mission to end at 15th and Valencia, the site of Big Rec, original home of the Mission Reds AND the San Francisco Seals.
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April 23, 2023
Bike Tour: Natural Areas and Native Plants
A bike tour starting at Glen Park Greenway and visiting Glen Canyon's grasslands, its western edges along O'Shaughnessy Drive, the Native Plant garden at the Miraloma Park Improvement Association parking lot, the Twin Peaks slopes, and ending finally at Mt. Sutro Open Space. Led by the SF Department of the Environment's Peter Brastow and California Native Plant Society aficionado Bob Hall, this was an incredible journey through habitats and species, mostly plant, during the super bloom after our rainy winter. Lots of science and information!
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March 26, 2023
Tour of the Oakland Tribune Tower
As part of Shaping San Francisco's ongoing 25th anniversary celebration in 2023, old friend John Law offered to host tours of the iconic Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland. John went the extra mile and dug up a bunch of history of the newspaper, the building, and Oakland more generally, and gave a delightfully entertaining tour of various nooks and crannies as well as taking up a series of steep century-old stairways to reach two ladders for the final ascent to the 307-foot high roof.
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March 18, 2023
Journey to the Highest Peak: Mt. Davidson
This Urban Forum: Walk'n'Talk began at O'Shaughnessy and Portola and headed past the century-old reservoir to reach an old entry to Mt. Davidson. Up we went, spending some time at the top enjoying the views, as well as paying a visit to the old cement cross which has a large restoration project taking shape next to it. Down the the long steep street on the southwest side of the mountain, we eventually made our way to the Edgehill Mountain Open Space, walking through the forest where many trees fell in recent storms. The top of Edgehill features a number of remarkable homes, and after circumambulating the hill we made our way back to the beginning spot.
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January 28, 2023
Bernal Cut to Diamond Heights
Starting at the Richland Avenue overpass at the Bernal Cut, we ascended Fairmont Heights to Laidley Street to see the Poole-Bell Mansion and a number of whimsical architectural statements along that street. The Harry Steps took us to Beacon Street above Billy Goat Hill where we heard about the original Gray Bros. quarry that carved the hill that became a park. Traversing the new path to Haas Playground we continued up to the top of Diamond Heights before following a winding route through the west and southern edges of the neighborhood, along the rim of Glen Canyon at one point. Finally we returned to the starting point.
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