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OUT of Site, performance-driven walking tours, March and May 2018

January-June 2018

Free Public Talks

Wednesday evenings 7:30-9:30 unless otherwise noted.

At Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics
518 Valencia Street (near 16th), in San Francisco

A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.


Our Public Talks are partly underwritten by City Lights Foundation, The Seed Fund and Rainbow Grocery.



Download the Spring 2018 calendar as a pdf

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Archive of past talks

Online audio archive of past talks, listed by type:

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January 24, 2018

Dogpatch Then and Now

Few San Francisco neighborhoods have gone through as dramatic a change as Dogpatch. East of Potrero Hill, once an industrial neighborhood making warships, steel, sugar, rope, and more, where flimsy wooden structures teetered on long-gone hills, the area has had an arts renaissance that is now giving way to high-end condos, the encroaching medical/biotech industry, and even more grandiose plans for highrise development. A microcosm of San Francisco’s history from the 1860s to the present. With Glenn Lym, Steven Herraiz, and Marti McKee

Photo: West on 20th Street, old Union Ironworks and Bethlehem Steel offices on right, by Chris Carlsson

February 7

Building a Deep Map -- Beyond Buildings and Views

Celebrating the release of a new map of San Francisco, "Nature in the City" reflects a rich and fairly recent understanding of what comprises a place. An update of an original 2006 map, the rework includes a total of five maps, highlighting species that live alongside Homo sapiens, geology, gardening, restoration, and connections within the Bay-Delta. Mary Ellen Hannibal (author of Citizen Scientist), Rebecca Johnson (Academy of Sciences), and map artist Jane Kim highlight the making of the map, the contributions of citizen science to our broader knowledge of place, and how this collaboration expresses the kind of emergent creative work we all need to do together to meet the challenges of our day and going forward. Co-hosted by Nature in the City

Photo: Anise Swallowtail feeding on a mallow flower growing among the industrial zone of Pier 70, by LisaRuth Elliott.

February 28

Art & Politics: Lou Dematteis

Lou Dematteis is an extraordinary social documentarian, photographer and filmmaker. He has been taking photographs of the Mission District since the 1970s, capturing the low-rider scene of that era, and being at the first Carnavals and leaving us a stunning visual record. He has also covered the Nicaraguan Revolution into the mid-1980s, the depradations of the multinational oil industry in the Amazon, and more recently has been making movies, with his “The Other Barrio” capturing the current displacement crisis in the Mission in a distinctly San Francisco noir tone.

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: Lou Dematteis

March 7

Resilient by Design: The Language of Water

The “Language of Water” is a vision to retrofit strategic locations of the Islais Creek Watershed to reduce flood risk and invest in real resiliency from sea level rise, drought, flooding and demonstrating the state of the art practices available to the agency or the cities. This proposal includes plans to create multi-purpose, distributed infrastructure for water supply, wastewater and stormwater treatment and the incorporation of creek daylighting and floodable spaces that make room for floodwaters. The team also explored the role of energy and water independence within neighborhoods and individual buildings as part of our toolkits for ensuring redundant and resilient water and drainage systems. Speakers include Patricia Algara of Base Landscape Architecture and Rosey Jencks, formerly of the SFPUC

Photo: Rendering of Islais Creek Watershed plan

March 14

Art & Politics: Ilana Crispi — Tenderloin and Mission Dirt

Ilana Crispi is a Mission District ceramicist with a curiosity of what makes up a place. In her recent projects MISSION DIRT and TENDERLOIN DIRT she literally digs in to the earth to extract the soil and transform it, inviting residents to take a look at an invisible past and consider its future. Dirt taken from an excavated Boeddeker Park in 2013 became furniture and vessels to eat out of and created to give Tenderloin residents a direct connection to the soil under their feet. MISSION DIRT is an excavation of dirt along Valencia Street, through the firing of the physical material examining questions of home, history, geology, and ownership. As part of the project, you are invited to write or draw an experience, story, or favorite Mission District site.

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: Various concentrations of Mission Dirt fired by Ilana Crispi.

March 28

Saving the Bay from “the Future”!

From the weird madness of the Reber Plan to dam both ends of the Bay into freshwater lakes in the 1950s to the Save the Bay movement of the early 1960s that helped create the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, we’ve come a long way in a half century. Today’s open shorelines, closed trash dumps, and returning wetlands honor and preserve our greatest public resource. Chuck Wollenberg, Paul Kumar from Save the Bay, Steve Goldbeck from BCDC.

Image of Reber Plan

April 4

Insurgent Country Music and its Roots in the Golden State

With the twang of a steel guitar, the whine of a fiddle and the plunk of a banjo comes an instant association; the pick-up truck, the cowboy boots, the rolling hills, dusty fields, lonesome highways and the flag. For many, it has also come to signify conservatism, “traditional values,” American chauvinism, and even racism, bigotry and the confederate flag. Although one wouldn’t realize it from listening to today’s pop Country radio stations, Country music has been anything but a rightwing soundtrack. To the contrary, the roots of Country lie firmly in resistance to capital, freedom from government interference, and in defense of the right of workers, poor farmers, and the dispossessed to live their lives in dignity. Jesse and Glenda Drew will discuss the radical roots of Country, and explain how California is historically more central to Country music than Nashville. Also: special musical accompaniment!

Photo: California migrant farmworkers during 1930s depression, still frame from Jesse and Glenda’s upcoming film Open Country: The History and Politics of Country Music.

April 25

Universal Basic Income, Is It time?

Touted by the tech industry as a way to preserve livelihoods in a time of automation replacing workers, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is not a new concept. As a poverty alleviation idea, it has resonance in the EPIC program of 1930s California, and similar ideas were floated by leaders of social movements of the 1960s, including MLK, Jr. and the Black Panthers in their Ten Point Program. Through a discussion of UBI we take a look at the nature of work and classifying invisible work as work, and open up a larger conversation around economic and racial inequalities. Proponents see UBI as a way to get at a new social contract in the U.S., one that builds trust and a chance for truth and reconciliation. Christian Nagler discusses his research into UBI, including performative economics, economic futurity and forecasting, and the divergent political ideologies held within the perceived prefigurative communitarian movement. Anne Price discusses how UBI differs from the social welfare system in being steeped in racial justice rather than race, and how her work at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland is addressing economic security. Third panelist TBA.

Photo: From Christian Nagler's 2011-12 economic performance art project, "Market Fitness".

May 9

Platform Cooperatives

More of our lives are being tightly integrated through the commercial social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, private corporations that are monetizing the enormous creative and cooperative activity that takes place there. A movement among tech workers and cooperative activists to create real alternatives through building self-managed platform cooperatives is taking shape. Yes, Virginia, there IS an alternative! The micro-rental economy masquerading as "sharing" is unmasked, and another way forward is explored. Neal Gorenflo of Shareable.net and Melissa Hoover, director of the Democracy at Work Institute (and other TBA).

Photo: Money falling, online clipart

May 23

Archives and Memory: New Ways of Making History

How do we “hold” (record/store) history now compared to the past? How do we “tell” history now, and has the relationship between archival sources and narrative arcs/presentation changed with digitalization? What do we learn from narration-free archival materials (a la Prelinger home movies, foundsf photo pages, etc.)? And popular attitudes towards history: who cares about footnotes? How are archivists beginning to shape new ways of making history public? Film archivist and librarian Rick Prelinger, and city archivist/librarian Susan Goldstein, scholar Howard Besser.

Photo: Smithsonian

June 9

Unsettled in the Mission (Special Offsite event)

Shaping San Francisco is co-sponsoring Adriana Camarena’s reading at the Paseo Artistico from her series “Unsettled in the Mission,” appearing in the pages of El Tecolote as well as on her website unsettlers.org. Crisscrossing the neighborhood’s history and present-day conundrums, Camarena presents a penetrating literary dissection of the inequality, racism, amnesia, and cultural confusion of our time.

Photo: El Tecolote