Recent Free Public Talks
A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.
All events are free.
At 518 Valencia Street, near 16th, in San Francisco (close to 16th Street BART)
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Dockworker Power in the Bay Area and South Africa
Peter Cole’s new book Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area uniquely compares and contrasts the radical activism of dockworkers on opposite sides of the planet. The San Francisco-based ILWU took direct action to block apartheid-era cargoes, while their counterparts in Durban, South Africa were on the front lines confronting the racist South African government. ILWU Local 10 (ret.) Jack Heyman introduces the evening.
Co-hosted by Freedom Archives
Photo courtesy ILWU Archives
Art & Politics:
Seth Eisen/OUT of Site
Last year we embarked on a grand collaborative journey through the under-recognized LGBTQ+ history of North Beach with Seth Eisen’s OUT of Site performative walking tours. Seth returns with a look at his new SOMA tours coming in June and September, bringing forgotten queer histories and sites to life and exploring the intersections of labor history, the leather scene, bars, nightlife, and the immigrant experience.
This is part of a series of solo artists giving a behind-the-scenes and indepth look at what inspires them in the interrelationship between art and politics.
Photo by Chris Carlsson of March 2018 Out of SITE performance
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.
Photo by Dorothea Lange
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.
Image: San Francisco 1839, via Facebook
Movements of Movements
Editor Jai Sen of Movements of Movements joins Shaping San Francisco and YOU for an open discussion. Breaking with our usual format, this entire evening is a discussion open to all participants. Co-hosted by PM Press.
Photo: Demonstration during U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, MI June, 2010. Photo: Chris Carlsson
Public Art and Murals: Controversy, Neglect, Restoration
Not always seen by all as a public benefit, public art faces sometimes quiet neglect, sometimes outrage and controversy. Earlier this year, San Francisco Poet Laureate Kim Shuck brought attention to the appeal to remove the Pioneer Monument’s “Early Days” statue of a subjugated and emaciated indigenous figure in Civic Center. Calling for a rehearing, she wrote a poem each day—55 in all—until the Board of Appeals granted one in June. Megan Wilson of the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) speaks about the recent spate of vandalism on Palestinian solidarity murals in the alley, and the impact on CAMP. Barbara Mumby-Huerta also joins the discussion of what and how we value works of art in the public realm.
Photo: "Early Days" part of Pioneer Monument in Civic Center. Photo by Chris Carlsson
San Francisco State College Strike of 1968-69: 50th Anniversary
An event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco State Strike. A discussion will be initiated by leaders and participants of the Strike, as well as an artist who graduated from San Francisco State in Raza Studies and now teaches at State. U. C. Berkeley Professor Waldo E. Martin will moderate the discussion which will touch on what sparked the Strike, how it happened, and the impact it had and continues to have on San Francisco, California, and the country at large. With Dr. Ramona Tascoe, Penny Nakatsu, Benny Stewart, Roger Alvarado, Jesus Barraza, Nikhil Laud, and Artnelson Concordia.
The War to End All Wars?
If there were a single event of the 20th century that we could magically undo, would it not be the war of 1914-1918? It led to some 20 million military and civilian deaths, the rise of Nazism, the Russian Revolution, and another even more destructive world war. On the centennial of WWI, the “War to End All Wars,” eminent historian Adam Hochschild revisits that pivotal epoch. His 2011 book To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 reminds us of the shock provoked by the mass slaughter of the First World War and stands as a rebuke to the callous acceptance of mass violence and war perpetuated up to the present moment by the U.S. government.
Photo: Troops slog through the mud in northern France during WWI.
The Jazz of Modern Basketball:
Racism and Virtuosity at the Roots of the Golden State Warriors
Shaping San Francisco’s Chris Carlsson digs into the long history of basketball as another season begins. The first African-American players entered the NBA in 1950, while black college stars led the USF Dons to consecutive national championships in 1955 and 1956, inventing a new style of aggressive defensive basketball. Today’s outspoken Warriors embody the decades-long Heritage in which earlier basketball stars pioneered today’s wild improvisational style while resisting the Jim Crow U.S. in which it began.
Photo: USF's Bill Russell is lifted up in celebration after 1956 National Championship.
Rethinking 1968: What Happened, How Has It Shaped Us?
Rarely has the entire globe seen such a far-reaching revolt as the revolutionary upheavals of the 1968-70 era, whose effects continue to reverberate for better and worse through to our time. Join critical analysts and participants Judy Gumbo, George Katsiaficas, Mat Callahan, and Carlos Muñoz for a provocative historical inquiry. Co-hosted by PM Press.
Photo: Marchers in 1970.
Missing Pieces: Remembering Elements of a Gone City
Geographer Dick Walker looks at the formative politics of the region in his new book, Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area, and takes us through the overheated bubbles and spectacular crashes, inequality, and delusion of the current moment. Arthur O’Donnell has methodically documented parts of the City slated for demolition or redevelopment from 2010–2018 in his Bound to Fall photography series. His drive to capture what has been a part of our streetscape aims to give future generations a window into what San Francisco was willing to lose, and hoping to gain. Come to learn and to share your own missing pieces.
Photo: A lost landmark, Flax Arts & Design Store, represents the latest of many changes to the Valencia/Market Street area. By Arthur O'Donnell
Women, Power, and the Vote:
1911 Suffrage to the 2018 Midterms
Given the predictable buzz developing about the 2018 midterm elections and the predictions of a blue wave/a female wave, we want to convene a discussion rooted in history that can critically take on this frame of mind, especially in light of the recent election of London Breed and the likely re-election of Dianne Feinstein. It's not like we haven't had decades of powerful female politicians and leaders who have by and large done things that reinforced the world they inherited rather than pursuing agendas that may have helped unravel it. What have we learned about women and power? Working-class San Francisco women were key to the campaign for the Vote in 1911. Does representative democracy still represent anyone? Will women getting elected make a difference? Will the approaching midterms produce a turn to the left and if so, what role will women play? We’ve had decades of powerful female politicians who have mostly reinforced the world they inherited rather than helping unravel it. What’s next? With Maya Chupkov, Zoe Samudzi, Sue Englander
Photo: San Francisco women organize for Prop 8 in 1911 to gain women's right to vote.
Model SF: Collectively Shaping the City
Public Knowledge artists-in-residence Bik Van der Pol have pulled a New Deal scale model of the City—based on 1938 aerial photographs—out of storage crates and into the light. Inspired by the Halprins’ 1970s collective creativity and community planning efforts, their project, “Take Part” will explore local histories with City neighborhood residents as library branches display relevant sections of the model beginning in early 2019. Creators of a 2017 cultural map of southeast San Francisco, Kate Connell and Oscar Melara, with cartographer Sofia Valera Airaghi, also ask, “Can we build a collective cultural life together?” Their projects, including Moving Art House, are designed to do just that. Join these artists in a conversation about engaging communities as we look both back and forward.
Co-hosted by Public Knowledge, a partnership of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Public Library
Photo: Southeast San Francisco Cultural Map