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Explore Bay Area Social Movement History

Recent Free Public Talks
January 2014-January 2015

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)

Some events co-sponsored by Freedom Archives and PM Press. Partly underwritten by City Lights Foundation and Rainbow Grocery Cooperative.

January 21 • 7:30 pm
Washed Away—Newfound Extreme Weather History

What actually happened to Darling Clementine? Historian Joel Pomerantz explores the California floods of 1862. Learn how this historic storm, which killed thousands and caused a number of San Francisco houses to collapse, can be an example for what a really extreme weather event could be like in our future.

January 14, 2015 • 7:30 pm
Home on the Grange

“Grange Future” celebrates the history and contemporary expression of ‘the grange idea.’ From the 19th century populist movement that backed the early campaign for an “information commons” in the form of Rural Free Mail delivery, to public banking and Farmers co-op banks, this vital movement is re-emerging to confront information and agricultural monopolists of our own era. Severine von Tscharner Fleming leads a panel discussion with the Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle and Matt Senate from the Omni Commons and Sudo Room Hackerspace.

December 10, 2014
Latin American Social Movements

Clif Ross and Marcy Rein, editors of Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements present a broad overview of the social movements that have pressured one regime after another in Latin America, changing the political calculations for everyone from right to left, from Venezuela to Argentina, Mexico to Chile and more.

Co-hosted by PM Press

December 3, 2014
Tunneling San Francisco Then and Now: Where’s the Public Interest?

A discussion of the west side tunnels and MUNI expansion in the 1910s, simultaneous to the building of the Hetch Hetchy water and power system by Elizabeth Creely and Catherine Powell, with Tim Redmond to compare today’s infrastructure build-out (Central Subway, sewers, and rebuilding Hetch Hetchy aqueduct).

November 12, 2014
Art & Politics: Janet Delaney
A Photographic History of South of Market

Janet Delaney has been documenting the changing South of Market since its days as a recently deindustrialized district in the early 1970s to its present boom in luxury residential towers.

Our Art & Politics series invites solo artists to talk about their work and share a bit about their process and the relationship of art to politics and vice versa in their work.

November 5, 2014
Trees and History

Jared Farmer presents his book Trees in Paradise, reading California history through Redwoods/Sequoias, Palms, Citrus, and Eucalyptus. He is joined by Craig Dawson of the Sutro Stewards, a group dedicated to untangling San Francisco’s most fraught forest atop Mt. Sutro.

October 29, 2014
San Francisco’s Housing Wars 2014

Decades of displacement and eviction have reached another crescendo during 2013-14. Key activists from the 1990s to the present will share tactics and strategies as the war enters its latest stages.

With James Tracy with his new book Dispatches Against Displacement, Erin McElroy of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and Maria Zamudio of Causa Justa.

October 8, 2014
Making History by Making Maps

Nicole Gluckstern and Burrito Justice trace the lines of their literary history mapping project (Bikes to Books) and map-making, and are joined by historical geographer Dick Walker co-author of the fantastic project The Atlas of California: Mapping the Challenge of a New Era.

Download a pdf of the Atlas of California presentation (20MB).

October 1, 2014
A History of LGBTQ Spaces . . .

Where you Least Expect Them

At the outset of the LGBTQ History Month of October, a group of distinguished historians come together to orient us to queer historic sites and events in the city. They reflect on those that have been torn down and what it means that these centers of community are missing, and present a sampling of the many still extant social, cultural, and sexual spaces, and why these places are critical components of LGBTQ history. The presentation also showcases the work going into the Citywide Historic Context Statement for LGBTQ History, a planning document that will serve as a guide in the documentation and commemoration of LGBTQ places in San Francisco.

With Glenne McElhinney, Gerard Koskovich, Shayne Watson, Donna Graves, and Felicia Elizondo

Photo of Ocean Beach courtesy of Shayne Watson.

Please note that the presenters retain their rights to their presentations contained in this recording.

September 24, 2014
No Future at College?!?

A discussion among adjunct faculty (aka temp teachers), City College of San Francisco advocates and defenders, and Student Debt activists—how to understand the current neoliberal-imposed crisis in higher education, and what is a future worth fighting for?

With Joe Berry of COCAL, Christian Nagler from the recent unionizing success at the San Francisco Art Institute, Wendy Kaufmyn and Lalo Gonzalez from CCSF.

September 10, 2014
The Evolving Eastern Shoreline

Shaping San Francisco's Chris Carlsson provides an historic tour of the eastern shoreline from its days as tidal mudflats and open sewers crisscrossed by piers and wharves to its new incarnation as a site of ecological restoration and recreation. Anthony Khalil of Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) offers a special look at creating a revitalized Candlestick shoreline including habitat restoration and community engagement, while interpreting the wonders of the Franciscan bioregion’s ecology and biodiversity.

Wed. May 28, 7:30 pm
San Francisco's Ghadar Party Heritage

In 1913, students, farmers, and roaming revolutionaries working to free India from British colonial rule formed the Ghadar Party. The party, headquartered in San Francisco, collaborated with a variety of Bay Area-based freethinkers, labor activists, anarchists, and expats of colonized nations.

Wed. May 14, 7:30 pm
Political Economy of Bees

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 7, 7:30 pm
Dogs, Density, and Natural Areas

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.

Wed. April 30, 7:30 pm
Art & Politics: Yolanda Lopez

Yolanda Lopez, Judy Drummond and Donna Amador cover the dynamic history of Los Siete de la Raza and Mission District politics of the 1970s. Yolanda dissects the popular iconography of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the context of racially exploitative advertising over the past few decades, to reveal her own creative processes that have produced beautiful "Virgin"-inspired representations of working Chicana women and more.

Wed. April 16, 7:30 pm
Upton Sinclair/End Poverty in California

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).”

Wed. April 9, 7:30 pm
Urban Farming and Urban Nature:
Are We Competing or Cooperating?

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, Jay Rosenberg (of the former Hayes Valley Farm, now with 49 Farms), Hannah Shulman (SF's Urban Agriculture Program coordinator), Severine von Tscharner Fleming(Greenhorns), and Nik Bertulis (SF Art Institute) lead a lively discussion. lead a lively discussion. Co-sponsored by Nature in the City.

Wed. March 26, 7:30 pm
Norman Nawrocki — Cazzarola!

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.

Wed. March 19, 7:30 pm
Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

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.

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.

Wed. February 26, 7:30 pm
Design Radicals: Berkeley 1960s and Today

As San Francisco emerged as the hub of counterculture pilgrimage routes in the late-1960s, radical politics and social change galvanized design ideals in Berkeley. The East Bay became the site of bold experiments in graphic arts, environmental activism, handcraft pedagogy, and self-build technologies. Fast forward to 2011 and the creation of the local hub PLACE for Sustainable Living in Oakland, a center linking our radical past to the resilient future, as it fosters many of the same ideals. Greg Castillo and Sabrina Richard, the co-curators of Design Radicals: Berkeley in the '60s - an exhibition at UC Berkeley planned for the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement in the Fall of 2014 - discuss artifacts and initiatives that document a decade of environmental design innovation. They are joined by Jonathan Youtt, catalyst for the creation of the public-serving experiential learning center, PLACE, to bring us up to the present.

Wed. February 5, 7:30 pm
Becoming a Biodiversity City

As Biophilic Cities are becoming a part of international consciousness, urban spaces are adding green roofs and elevated walking paths that traverse urban canopies, even daylighting creeks. How does San Francisco fit into all this? Could San Francisco could become a City of Biodiversity? Do we use the great work done by other cities as inspiration to celebrate our relationship with the natural world, or in friendly competition with them to become the “greenest”? How can San Franciscans better celebrate the vast array of biodiversity, ecological activism, and collective natural history knowledge among us? With Ali Sant of Studio for Urban Projects, Elizabeth Creely a writer whose work looks at restoration, herbicides, and biodiversity, and others TBA. Co-sponsored by Nature in the City.

Wed. January 22, 7:30 pm
Songs of Freedom

Songs of Freedom is the name of the songbook edited by James Connolly and published in 1907. Connolly's introduction is better known than the collection for which it was written, containing his oft-quoted maxim: “Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few and not the faith of the multitude.” Though most of the songs were of Irish derivation, the songbook itself was published in New York and directed to the American working class, explicitly internationalist in its aims. Songs of Freedom is a celebration of the life and work of James Connolly, the Irish revolutionary socialist martyred by the British government for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916. It is at once a collection of stirring revolutionary songs and a vital historical document. Please join editor and composer Mat Callahan along with vocalist Yvonne Moore to indulge in the life, times, words, songs and contemporary relevance of James Connolly. Co-sponsored by PM Press and Freedom Archives.

Wed. January 15, 2014 7:30 pm
Latinos at the Golden Gate:
Creating Community & Identity in San Francisco

Latin American migrants have been part of San Francisco’s story since its beginning. Charting the development of a hybrid Latino identity forged through struggle--latinidad--from the Gold Rush through the civil rights era, Tomás Summers Sandoval describes the rise of San Francisco’s diverse community of Latin American migrants, giving a panoramic pespective on the transformation of a multinational, multi-generational population that is today a visible, cohesive, and politically active community.