Free Public Talks
A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.
All events are free, on Wednesday evenings unless otherwise noted.
At Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics, 518 Valencia, near 16th Street, San Francisco. Download a pdf of our Spring 2014 calendar here.
We are proud to announce a collaboration between Shaping San Francisco, The New Nothing Cinema, and the Anthropology and Social Change Department at C.I.I.S. We will screen a film once a month with the focus being on local activism and political history. Held monthly at New Nothing Cinema, 16 Sherman Alley (near Folsom and 7th), on dates listed in calendar below. (Stay tuned for Mar-May film listings!)
Archive of past talks
Online audio archive of past talks, listed by type:
Wed. March 12, 7:30 pm
Saltworks and Shorelines: a Visual and Social History of the San Francisco Bay
Cris Benton has used kite photography to document the surprisingly beautiful “saltscapes” of the South Bay, while Matthew Booker’s Down By the Bay is one of the best recent histories of the long, complicated, and contradictory relationship of urbanizing humans and the amazing inland estuary we enjoy as the Bay.
In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, polluters of the seas, ravagers of the forests, despoilers of rivers, and removers of mountaintops. Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth that has not had commoning at its heart. "Neither the state nor the market," say the planetary commoners. Linebaugh kindles the embers of memory like few other historians of our time to ignite our future commons. Linebaugh brings to life the vital commonist tradition. He traces the red thread from the great revolt of commoners in 1381 to the enclosures of Ireland, and the American commons, where European immigrants who had been expelled from their commons met the immense commons of the native peoples and the underground African-American urban commons. Co-sponsored by PM Press.
Cazzarola! is a gripping, epic, political, historical, and romantic novel spanning 130 years in the life of the Discordias, a fictional family of Italian anarchists. It details the family's heroic, multigenerational resistance to fascism in Italy and their ongoing involvement in the anarchist movement. From early 20th-century factory strikes and occupations, armed anarchist militias, and attempts on Mussolini's life, to postwar student and labor protest, and confronting the newest wave of contemporary neofascist violence sweeping Europe, the Discordias navigate the decades of political, economic, and social turmoil. Norman Nawrocki, acclaimed comedian and performer, takes us on a wild ride in and out of history. Co-sponsored by PM Press.
In a recent Earth Island Journal interview, Michael Pollan notes a question underlying his work, "How do you think through this relationship in the messy places where nature and culture have to engage with one another?" As urban dwellers, how do we decide what to do with our open spaces, our sidewalks, our schoolyards, our vacant lots? Do we use them to grow food, tend natives, allow wild spaces to exist? These choices require different skill bases (growing soil vs. tending natives, as an example) and are also mutually supportive. With most available lots being gobbled up by housing developers, and the dismantling of Hayes Valley Farm and the Free Farm, where are we with urban ag efforts, and relative to our butterfly and insect population? Nature in the City's Amber Hasselbring and Jay Rosenberg, of the former Hayes Valley Farm and now with 49 Farms, and others TBA lead a lively discussion. Co-sponsored by Nature in the City.
Lauren Coodley’s new biography of Sinclair dubs him a “California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual”. She sheds light on his remarkable life as the writer who exposed the meatpacking industry in The Jungle, the depradations of the oil industry, the wrongful prosecutions of Sacco and Vanzetti as well as the Wobblies, but Coodley reveals a previously under-appreciated side of Sinclair: his feminism. Jay Martin joins the discussion to focus on Sinclair’s momentous 1934 California gubernatorial campaign to “End Poverty in California (EPIC).”
Yolanda Lopez covers the dynamic history of Los Siete and Mission District politics of the 1970s, but goes much further, both before (in the 1960s) and after (to the present), into her own work as a Chicana artist. With Judy Drummond and Donna Amador.
Join us for a moderated panel about the issues associated with human density and respectful dog ownership in San Francisco. After decades of looking the other way, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is proposing to limit off-leash activity to select portions of its lands. Commercial dog walkers and some animal rights groups are opposing this change, and have threatened the extreme measure of dismantling the national park altogether. In 1977/8, Harvey Milk put forth a city ordinance dubbed the ‘pooper scooper law,’ for which he didn't want to put anyone in jail or fine them, but set out to clean up parks through peer pressure and friendly enforcement. Is it again time for San Franciscans to adopt a new paradigm for how we behave with respect to dogs in our natural areas? With Amber Hasselbring of Nature in the City; Brent Plater of Wild Equity Institute, Dominik Mosur, and moderated by Jason Mark of the Earth Island Institute. Co-sponsored by Nature in the City.
The plight of pollinators - in particular the honey bee - under the combined stresses of capital and empire, is considered from an unusual perspective. Jake Kosek, a farmer, radical geographer, and apiarist, discusses his researches into 'political entomology', specifically the use of bees as material and metaphor by the US military (foraging for landmines, anti-terrorism weapons).
Wed. May 28, 7:30 pm
San Francisco's Ghadar Party Heritage: 100 Years of Radical South Asian American History
In 1913, students, farmers, and roaming revolutionaries working to free India from British colonial rule came together to form the Ghadar Party, to organize mutiny in India and work towards a secular world of economic and social justice. The party, headquartered in San Francisco collaborated with a variety of Bay Area based freethinkers, labor activists, anarchists, and expats of colonized nations. Though formally dissolved in 1948, the work of Ghadar offers potent lessons for political organizing in the present. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ghadar Party with a night of history, visuals, theater, and poetry. Presenters include CIIS Ghadar researcher Simmy Makhijani, SF State Asian American studies professor Anantha Sudhakar, and community-based historians Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee from the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour.