Ecology / Public Talks Archive
February 4, 2015
San Francisco’s Wild Menu:
In 1849 San Francisco was surrounded by wild animals and a flourishing sea and bay, from which most early food was taken. But what is our “wild menu” now? How do foraging, fishing, hunting, and gathering fit into modern life? What role does conservation and ecology play in a contemporary and future wild menu? With Mark Heath, Kirk Lombard, and Chris Carlsson. Co-hosted by Wild Equity Institute and Nature in the City.
Flora, Fauna, Feast
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. The presentations focused heavily on Eucalyptus and the curious stories and controversies that swirl around that iconic tree.
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.
May 14, 2014
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).
May 7, 2014
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.
April 9, 2014
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. Co-sponsored by Nature in the City.
March 12, 2014
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.
February 26, 2014
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.
February 5, 2014
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.
October 30, 2013
Who are we, and what is our place in the world of the living? The Modern Synthesis of Biology, much of it conceived and incubated in the San Francisco Bay Area, has become a conceptual steel trap dictating much of what we do not only with our ecosystems, but also with our economy, our politics and our very selves. Liberation Biology proposes a critical approach to the deep roots of our understanding of the living. Based on both an exhumation of forgotten knowledge and on radically transformative new experimental evidence, Liberation Biology puts to rest many preconceptions of the Modern Synthesis, while recasting questions that may lead us to a world we may not only survive, but also desire. With Ignacio Chapela and Ali Bektaş
May 22, 2013
Talking About Ecology and Science in Public
Join a challenging conversation some have dubbed "environmental communications in the Anthropocene" to discuss the problems with presenting complex ecological information publicly. Rose Aguilar from KALW's Your Call radio, Brent Plater of the Wild Equity Institute, and environmental scientist and climate change activist Azibuike Akaba discuss and debate issues of scientific literacy, critical thinking, basic education, attention spans, buzzwords, guest selection, framing and definition of scientific issues, overcoming propaganda and simplistic jargon, and much more!
March 27, 2013
Designing Resilient Landscapes: What history teaches us
about San Francisco and the Bay-Delta Estuary
Ruth Askevold and Robin Grossinger from the San Francisco Estuary Institute will present their amazing historical maps and discuss their groundbreaking work in "forensic ecology," which is contributing to restoration efforts and galvanizing public attitudes around the Bay. Derek Hitchcock will also join the conversation to discuss current restoration efforts he is engaged in on the Napa River, as well as contextualizing the Napa with the larger watersheds that feed the Delta and Bay.
January 16, 2013
The Tigers of Market Street
Butterfly Habitat along a Busy Urban Corridor
Not long after the transit tunnels of Muni and Bart went in below Market Street in the '70s, a San Franciscan butterfly — the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) discovered an ecosystem freshly lined with one of its larval food, or host trees: the London Plane sycamore (Plantanus acerifolia). Males fly among the treetops, females lay eggs on the leaves, caterpillars feed and pupate, and adult butterflies emerge. This creature's entire lifecycle has played out for years unheralded by the thousands who walk below this canopy daily. As the city re-imagines our grandest boulevard with the Better Market Street Project, join us for this evening and learn about a creature that seems to be keeping up in this human-altered landscape. Add your two cents to this fascinating convergence of city coexistence. Lepidopterists and artists Amber Hasselbring and Liam O'Brien will "tell the tale of a swallow-tail" and propose novel ideas of connecting our two species.
December 5, 2012
Planning 4th Street:
Remaking a San Francisco Corridor
Josh Switzky, Steve Wertheim, John Elberling and others will come together to look at the effort to redesign and rethink the 4th Street corridor as it becomes the new north-south subway route. New public spaces are being opened in the many underutilized alleys, while the demographic shifts of SOMA continue apace.
August 28, 2012
The Next Step in Sustainability
Are you an Activist? Naturalist? Educator? …or just curious? Want to learn about increasing habitat for local species? …transformative programs and projects? …Service learning for kids of all ages? …native plants, gardening, urban sustainability? Join us for an old-fashioned Teach-In: Greening San Francisco: Wild Corridors and Guerrilla Gardens, from the Bay to Ocean Beach.
Co-presented by Planet Drum Foundation
May 23, 2012
What Are Our Streets For?
Emerging visions for public thoroughfares challenge the 20th century paradigm of automobile-centric streets. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and wild critters are all demanding their own ways to cross the city. San Francisco's "Green Connections" project seeks to integrate these new visions into San Francisco's urban grid. Join Andy Thornley (SF Bike Coalition), Peter Brastow (Nature in the City), Elizabeth Stampe (Walk SF), and the SF Planning Dept.'s Kearstin Dischinger to critically evalute these competing and complementary visions of a reconfigured San Francisco.
November 9, 2011
In Search of San Francisco's Eradicated Landscapes
It is a common assumption that street grids were imposed easily on San Francisco’s original landscape, resulting in the City’s photogenic hillside streets that poke up from otherwise large flat planes. We assume that the imposition of these grids was benign. But digging under the streets of early San Francisco, architect and mapper Glenn Lym finds that much of San Francisco’s flatland was created from land forms that were quite different from what we know today.
October 26, 2011
K. Ruby, Esperanza Pallana, and Melinda Stone, three experts on Urban Homesteading, bring their wit and intelligence to a wide-ranging presentation on the growing phenomenon. Ruby is co-author of Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living. Esperanza Pallana is behind the website pluckandfeather.com, and part of the farmfoodconnect site too, and will help focus on how food sovereignty and the right to grow and raise our own food in the city is becoming one of the biggest legal battles of the decade. Melinda Stone is the moving force behind the "11 in 11" workshops, taking homesteading skills to the 11 electoral districts over 11 months in 2011. She is also the videographer responsible for the enormously informational "How to Homestead" videos.
September 28, 2011
Did Laguna Dolores Exist?
Christopher Richard, curator of Aquatic Biology at Oakland Museum, reexamines the legend of a “now vanished” fresh water lake believed to have been located in the heart of the Mission District, Laguna Dolores. The lake is part of the founding story of San Francisco — it’s written about in history books, mentioned in encyclopedias, but after studying at least 100 maps of the San Francisco peninsula drawn before 1912 Richard has come up with a new theory.
September 14, 2011
Endangered Species Campaigning
Endangered Species is an artwork by Todd Gilens that wrapped four San Francisco Muni buses in images of locally endangered species. Reintroducing these animals into the urban scene that displaced them, the project dramatizes the priorities and conflicts which shape habitat for both humans and animals. Wild Equity Institute's Brent Plater, and Tuolomne River Trust's and salmon advocate Jessie Raeder join Todd in discussion.
June 8, 2011
Ecology and Food of the 1970s: Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78
Travel back in time to hear of urban farms, collectives distributing organic foods, the fight to save the mountain (San Bruno), and how the anti-war movement galvanized a movement to save the earth. Contributors to Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-78 Pam Peirce, Jana Blankenship, David Schooley, and Chris Carlsson read from essays in the book.
March 30, 2011
Reciprocal Bio-Regional Culture from the Bay Area to the Sierras
The indigenous peoples who formed bio-regional “culture-sheds” aligned with natural watersheds in California to start our eco-history – with particular focus on the Bay Area and delta areas. It continues with a short history of the California gold mining culture that emerged in the mid-1800's undermining native peoples as well as the natural environment. Find out about unintended consequences, serendipitous connections, and the emergent water-based politics and culture of the 21st century with a dynamic panel discussing the historical and emerging relationships among humans, and between humans and the waterways on which they live. With Ruth Askevold, Cartographic Specialist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute's Historical Ecology Program; Jessie Raeder, of the Tuolumne River Paddle to the Sea, a coalition of river advocates called SalmonAid, and the Yuba River Source to Sea project that inspired her unlimited enthusiasm for wild rivers and wild salmon; Michael Whitson, a long-time Bay Area culture maker, co-founder of 848 Community Space and CounterPULSE, and a land venture called "Yuba Libre" on the Yuba River; and Derek Hitchcock, a Berkeley-based ecologist and sixth generation northern Californian who grew up in the watershed of the Yuba River, and producer of the "21st century Assessment of the Yuba River Watershed," for the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL).
February 23, 2011
Underground Food Politics
With urban homesteading all the rage and backyard and vacant lot food production on the rise it appears we're taking big steps toward encouraging self-sufficiency in the Bay Area. For sure people's requirements for connection to their food has changed. But how much do the popular local underground food movements fit within a drive to control one's own food sources as in food sovereignity? How much are they used as a stepping stone into the market for boutique products and small-business creation? With Iso Rabins of ForageSF and the Underground Market, Antonio Roman-Alcalá of the SF Urban Agriculture Alliance and the SF Permaculture Guild, and Leif Hedendal, underground chef.
February 16, 2011
Vanished Waters: A History of San Francisco's Mission Bay
Today Mission Bay is the moniker for a new UCSF biomedical campus. Some urban explorers know there is a Mission Creek with a houseboat community, too. In conjunction with the 2nd edition of the book Vanished Waters, we take a visual cruise through the industrial and watery past of this former tidal bay, fed by the fresh waters of several local creeks and streams. With Chris Carlsson, and Bob Isaacson and Ginny Stearns from the Mission Creek Conservancy.
January 26, 2011
Environmental History of Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a beautiful and complex landscape with a great diversity of natural, historic, and recreational features. It is a much different place from, not only what it was before the city of San Francisco, but, increasingly, what John McLaren, its visionary 19th century superintendent, envisioned for it as a sylvan retreat from urban life. We explore the natural history, the natural landscape, and the natural politics of Golden Gate Park with dedicated Golden Gate Park advocates, historians, and managers, discussing a vision for the great park's future built on an excavation of its fascinating past. Gray Brechin, Greg Gaar, and Brent Dennis of the SF Parks and Recreation Department give us a rich and diverse multitude of perspectives. Co-presented by Nature in the City.
November 17, 2010
Watersheds from California to Mexico
One of the emerging zeitgeists of our era is the rediscovery of the water beneath our cities, and redefining the places we are in through awareness of our watersheds. Derek Hitchcock of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL); Joel Pomerantz, a San Francisco water historian; and Sarah Kelly and Arthur Richards, co-directors of Adapting to Scarcity, share their knowledge and find the common streams uniting their work around indigenous communities reliant on waterways, and the possibilities of transformation present in the struggles around the contamination of and dams built on them.
November 10, 2010
Eco-Politics, a Strategic Roundtable
Starhawk; Doug Bevington, The Rebirth of Environmentalism; and Jay Rosenberg, of Hayes Valley Farm, start an open discussion as veterans of numerous political and ecological campaigns, in a broad attempt to think strategically about how to go beyond the narrow agendas of so many organizations, and the myopia that afflicts all too many eco-activists. From permaculture activism to eco-justice campaigns in Oakland and San Francisco, to a wider look at the deep incompatibility of capitalism and ecological health, everything is on the table.
May 26, 2010
Twin Peaks Bioregional Park: A Conservation Strategy for the Heart of San Francisco
The Twin Peaks Bioregion is the hilly heart of San Francisco — the top of the City's watersheds — from the oak woodlands of Golden Gate Park to Glen Canyon, and from Hawk Hill to Buena Vista Park. Nature in the City's vision for a Twin Peaks Bioregional Park would consolidate 10-12 different City jurisdictions into one management entity for the protection, restoration, and connectivity of one of the most open space and biodiverse rich parts of San Francisco. With Peter Brastow of Nature in the City; Tom Radulovich of Livable City and the BART Board; Greg Gaar, of Haight-Ashbury Native Plant Nursery and a natural historian; and Craig Dawson of Mt. Sutro Stewards and the Inner Sunset Merchants Association. Co-presented by Nature in the City.
May 12, 2010
Circle the Food Wagons! - Local Food Economies
The politics of local food encompasses gardens, farmers' markets, urban farms, gleaning, free food stands, community supported agriculture, micro-farming, and much more! Learn from Jay Rosenberg from Hayes Valley Farm, two folks from the Free Farm, John Garrone from Far West Fungi at the Heart of the City Farmers' Market, and Brooke Budner from Little City Gardens about the nuts and bolts of how San Francisco gets fed now, and how it might become more self-reliant in the years to come, thanks to the experiments and projects already under way.
February 24, 2010
San Francisco Golf Courses, Parks, Natural Areas
Casey Allen explains why Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica (owned by the city of San Francisco) has become a point of sharp controversy, pitting golfers against endangered species. The City's budget is strained by the impossibility of maintaining a failing, moribund golf course while recreational needs go unmet, while facing threats to endangered species and habitat lawsuits. Co-presented by Nature in the City
January 27, 2010
Not only are trees and "urban forests" the most prominent features of the city's "natural" landscape, they are the city’s biggest biomass. Tree choices influence habitat resources for countless less obvious, but no less important species of flora and fauna. Doug Wildman of Friends of the Urban Forest and Josiah Clark debate the facts about trees, "forests," and woodlands in San Francisco, discussing also the benefits and drawbacks of specific tree species and issues in the city, as they relate to habitat, aesthetics, and the human experience of nature in the city. Co-presented by Nature in the City
October 28, 2009
Climate Change/Climate Justice
Recorded a month before the Copenhagen Climate Conference, Tom Athanasiou of Eco-Equity, Jon Christensen professor at Stanford University, Dan Gluesenkamp Director of Habitat Restoration at Audubon Canyon Ranch, and Laura Castellini of GGNRA and Nature in the City take on some of the key conversation topics of COP15.What is going to be accomplished by "cap-and-trade?" How is global warming being co-opted by corporate power? How are the effects of climate change already appearing in the planet's and the Bay Area's ecosystems? What is the relationship between climate change and ecological restoration?
September 30, 2009
Ecology and Redevelopment in Bayview/Hunter's Point
The City and Lennar Corporation are promulgating a redevelopment plan, but what about ecology, wildlife and the human community? A report by ArcEcology illustrating new and exciting alternatives for the Bayview-Hunter's Point Redevelopment is covered. How is Candlestick Point State Recreation Area affected? Isn't Bayview-Hunter's Point entitled to its own reclaimed “Crissy Field”? How can (re)development benefit the current residents and be driven by their needs and wants? Saul Bloom of ARCEcology answers these questions and more. Co-presented by Nature in the City
May 13, 2009
Can Capitalism really “Go Green?”
Amidst a general enthusiasm and push for a “new Green economy” Jason Mark (Building the Green Economy and Alemany Farm), Mary Rick (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies), and Chris Carlsson (Nowtopia and co-director of Shaping San Francisco) take a look at both the kinds of work that get labeled green, and how the logic of capitalism impedes a deeper ecological transformation.
April 29, 2009
Permacultural Transformation for the Urban Dweller
K. Ruby of the Institute of Urban Homesteading, Novella Carpenter of Ghost Town Farm, Laura Allen of Greywater Guerrillas, and Kevin Bayuk from the SF Permaculture Guild give a how-to on redesigning and getting off the grid. These permaculture practitioners present step-by-step recommendations for the next six months, for 1 year and 3-5 year transitions to self-sufficiency for urban dwellers. Co-presented by Nature in the City
March 25, 2009
Toxic San Francisco
Doug Kern, of the Urban Watershed Project and Presidio Restoration Advisory Board focuses on the former military bases at the Presidio and Hunter’s Point as examples of unremediated superfund sites in the City. He addresses the known toxins in the City’s ground and what the City and its residents are doing to ameliorate these timebombs. Co-presented by Nature in the City
February 25, 2009
Bees in the City
Learn about the “Colony Collapse Disorder” afflicting commercial beekeepers and the threat to agribusiness, in juxtaposition to the dozens of native bees flourishing in California’s urban environments, which reinforce local biodiversity and provide another important link to growing our own food in cities. Local beekeepers K. Ruby and Philip Gerrie share their expertise and experiences. Co-presented by Nature in the City
January 28, 2009
Lake Merced Natural Area's Future
Dan Murphy of the Golden Gate Audubon Society and David Behar of the SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) contemplate the future of Lake Merced, the largest coastal lagoon between Point Reyes and Pescadero, and an incomparable natural resource for San Francisco. The SFPUC, as owner of the land and water, has undertaken a community watershed planning process in order to articulate a bold vision for the future of the lake and its environs. In addition to restoring native plant communities and wildlife habitat, the SFPUC wants to activate the lake for more and exciting natural resources-compatible recreation. The process is not without controversy, since the Pacific Rod and Gun Club leases a substantial portion of lakefront property and has done so for many decades. Nature enthusiasts generally prefer increased access to that site, not only for ecological restoration, but also for more diverse lake-dependent uses by the public. Learn about a proposed preserve for the protection of wildlife and threatened and endangered species. Co-presented by Nature in the City
November 19, 2008
Green Streets: Redesigning San Francisco One Block at a Time
Nature in this City is buried under roads, emerging when we rip up concrete street by street. Planting for wildlife habitat, stormwater management, and water resource conservation is a critical part of creating a new urban ecological experience. Tom Radulovich of Livable City, Amber Hasselbring of Mission Greenway, and Jane Martin of Plant SF discuss the various ways they are reimagining and redesigning San Francisco. Co-presented by Nature in the City
October 29, 2008
Candlestick Point: State Park for the People
Alan Hopkins of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, Patrick Rump of Literacy for Environmental Justice, and Claude Everhart with Friends of Candlestick introduce you to San Francisco's California State Park at Candlestick, an urban shoreline park built on landfill and trash, a product of a deliberate community-driven process that chose open space and natural qualities over the usual city-style parks and recreation facilities. It is used by bird watchers, picnickers, and fisherman, home to many returning species of birds and wildlife, and is being ecologically transformed for the benefit of the Bayview community and local critters. Co-presented by Nature in the City
February 27, 2008
San Francisco's Imperiled and Surviving Birds
The Spanish explorers reported a deafening din from the millions of birds that would ascend into the air from the bayside, saying, “The birds filled the skies.” Most historic wetlands and riparian areas have been destroyed or severely altered, but San Francisco remains a birdwatcher’s bonanza. 250 species can be seen in the City throughout the year! In the Presidio’s Tennessee Hollow and Crissy Marsh we see what is severely imperiled, and what is possible for the future of ecological restoration of wildlife habitat. With Josiah Clark, Matt Zlatunich, and Arthur Feinstein. Co-presented by Nature in the City
January 30, 2008
Endangered Species Big Year
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area sustains more federally threatened and endangered species than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks combined. The San Francisco Bay Area is considered the 6th most important biological diversity hotspot in the United States by the Nature Conservancy. UNESCO has even granted the GGNRA “Biosphere Reserve” status, the same status granted to the Central Amazon rainforests. Learn from Brent Plater and Peter Brastow about the amazing biodiversity in your own backyard as highlighted in the coming Endangered Species Big Year! Co-presented by Nature in the City
November 28, 2007
Food Security & Urban Agriculture
Our food system is being refashioned by new urban farmers, farmers markets, and community-supported agriculture, and importantly, by savvy shoppers who demand local, organic, and safe food. Still, food security is tenuous for too many of our neighbors. Hear from Amy Franceschini about Victory Gardens, past and present; Willow Rosenthal with the story of City Slicker Farms; and Jason Mark, editor of Earth Island Journal, about the work of Alemany Farm.
October 24, 2007
New Politics for Green Cities
This panel represents a wide swath of perspectives on the urban environment, from open space, biodiversity, global warming, fresh water, street design and transit choices, urban farming... Local historian Dick Walker, author of The City and the Country; Kearstin Krehbiel of the San Francisco Parks Trust; Peter Brastow, executive director of Nature in the City; and Kearstin Dischinger of the Bike Kitchen come together to discuss the historic roots of our current ecological politics, and how they have shaped today’s environment and the questions we face now.
September 26, 2007
San Francisco Water Sources
Most of San Francisco’s water is supplied by the Tuolumne River, which flows through a series of reservoirs, aqueducts, and tunnels to our taps. These facilities are being rebuilt now, along with yet another massively expensive sewer system overhaul. Local water historian Joel Pomerantz and ecology activist Ruth Gravanis join with Spreck Rosenkrans of the Environmental Defense Fund in a look at our wet infrastructure and the possibilities of a radically different relationship to our local water supplies, including our aquifer, creeks, and rainfall.
May 30, 2007
San Francisco Ecology: Butterflies in the City
The Franciscan bioregion is home to several locally endemic butterfly species, such as the mission blue, which only lives on coastal bedrock ridgetops. Despite the revolutionary ecological changes on the San Francisco peninsula over the last 240 years, the City abounds with spectacular native biodiversity, and though like many insects, butterfly species have co-evolved with specific plants in an ecological coevolutionary dance over millions of years, a subset of our native butterflies have adapted to some non-native plants, including weeds. Barbara Deutsch, Deirdre Elmansoumi, Mia Monroe, and Liam O’Brien give an exhilarating and beautiful ride through this fascinating subject.
May 2, 2007
Immigration, Work, and Agriculture: From Enclosures to Fast-Food
Grey Kolevzon and Chris Carlsson take you on a journey through the centuries-long process of land enclosure and its continuation with the replacement of subsistence agriculture in the global south by agribusiness export crops. With loss of land the movement of populations into cities starts, eventually leading to migration across borders too. Waves of immigrants have brought many different peoples' favorite foods to California, which slowly have merged into “California Cuisine.” Ironically—perhaps tragically—today’s immigrants very often work in the fields for agribusiness OR in the restaurants and hotels of SF, often in kitchens and food service sector... VIDEO CLIPS: 1) occupation strike in Paris at a McDonalds by largely African immigrant workers; 2) scene from Peter Watkins’ movie “La Commune” wherein a group of Algerians sits around a table talking about immigration and capital--in 1871!
April 25, 2007
The National Park Where We Live
Listen as Amy Meyer reveals the politics of national park conservation. If not for the heroic efforts of Amy Meyer, essentially the “godmother” of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), and other environmental activists, we might not have a GGNRA today. Amy's book with co-author Randy Delehanty entitled, New Guardians for the Golden Gate: How America Got a Great National Park, provides exquisite details of the social and political context for the creation of our local urban ecological jewel, which is internationally important.
February 28, 2007
Laying a Foundation for a Green City (3 podcasts)
Integrating urban life with local nature, biodiversity, and resources is the challenge of our time. New and veteran activists Peter Berg of Green City Project/ Planet Drum, Peter Brastow of Nature in the City, Bonnie Sherk of A Living Library, Brian Holland of Bay Localize, and Raquel Rivera-Pinderhughes of the Urban Studies Department at San Francisco State University share visions, strategies, and how they are laying the foundation for a truly Green City.
January 31, 2007
Grassroots Activism to Save San Bruno Mountain
This remarkable and still endangered ecological treasure is the natural southern boundary of San Francisco. The curious cultural and ecological histories that intersect on this mountain are shared by representatives of San Bruno Mountain Watch and Heart of the Mountain, revisiting a quarter century of grassroots activism and presenting their current work to save the mountain.
November 29, 2006
Native Habitat Restoration: Frogs in San Francisco
San Francisco’s rich biodiversity is not well known, yet. In fact, many San Franciscans have been involved in preservation and restoration of native habitats for the past decades. Jim McKissock, Chris Giorni, and Josiah Clark highlight a heroic effort to restore native frogs to San Francisco.
October 25, 2006
Recycling Activism: Trash and Toxics
Recycling and anti-toxics activists Andy Pugni of HANC Recycling and Erica Swinney of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice discuss the politics of waste. How do we make meaningful change with respect to the growing mountains of waste? From the ever increasing amounts of garbage we create, to poisoned ground water and numerous toxic waste sites, we have our work cut out for us. Also includes an excerpt from the documentary “Gone Tomorrow.”
September 27, 2006
Activism in and for the San Francisco Bay Ecosystem
Take an historical look at San Francisco Bay, our region’s most impacted and continuously threatened natural resource. Highlighting the time before European colonization, how it changed over the last 160 years, and the Save the Bay citizens’ movement, listen and imagine how the Bay might evolve, including the current efforts for ecological restoration.
May 31, 2006
Can San Francisco Feed Itself? (3 podcasts)
Can urban food production be compatible with urban native habitat conservation and restoration? What are the limits and advantages of systematic effort to grow food within the City? What should our relationship be to local gardening, regional Community-Supported Agriculture, and Slow Food?
Part 1 features Chris Carlsson and Raquel Rivera-Pinderhughes. Part 2 features Antonio Roman-Alcalá of Alemany Farm and Brahm Ahmadi of the People's Grocery. Part 3 features author Margit Roos-Collins (“Flavors of Home”), Lane Cunningham, and some Q&A and discussion with the audience.
May 10, 2006
San Francisco’s Food Revolt
Going back to the Victory Gardens of WWII, San Franciscans have long organized to get more control over their food supplies. Jesse Drew, author of Call Any Vegetable, and Christopher Cook, author of Diet for a Dead Planet, discuss recent examples including the People’s Food System, the expansion of Farmers’ Markets in the City, and the community garden movement.
April 26, 2006
Reclaiming Bay Area Military Bases (2 podcasts)
Kat Steele, founder of the Urban Permaculture Guild; Doug Biggs, community resources director of the Alameda Point Collaborative; Ruth Gravanis, coordinator of the Treasure Island wetlands project; and Arthur Feinstein, chair of the SF Bay Joint Venture, address cleaning up after the military, restoring and remaking the Presidio, and discuss how community activists are fighting over the future of Hunters’ Point, and highlight restoration activity by permaculturists from the Alameda Naval Air Station.
Part 1 features Ruth Gravanis and Arthur Feinstein. Part 2 features Arthur Feinstein, Doug Biggs, and Kat Steele.
March 29, 2006
Natural Disasters and Community Response (4 podcasts)
Tom Athanasiou of Eco-Equity and author of Divided Planet, Sherlina Nager of Literacy for Environmental Justice, Peter Davidson, UCSF director of UFO project, and Chris Carlsson, Shaping San Francisco co-director, discuss earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, epidemic flu, chronic disease, etc. within the frame of a community response based on mutual aid, cooperation, and a renewed commitment to a public health infrastructure.
Part 1 features Tom Athanasiou and Chris Carlsson. Part 2 features Sherlina Nager who works in San Francisco's Bayview/Hunter's Point. She speaks to the class divisions that mean so-called "natural" disasters impact different populations in radically different ways. She describes environmental justice as a movement that is led by communities of color against environmental racism, and the goal is to set up sustainable, self-determined and just communities, dating back to 1982 or so. Part 3 features Chris Carlsson and Peter Davidson. Part 4 features audience Q&A following the discussion of the topic.
February 22, 2006
Nature in the Urban Environment
Nature in the City’s Peter Brastow and long-time ecological activist Ruth Gravanis present a comprehensive overview of San Francisco’s natural environment, discussing the less-than-obvious meanings of the concept of “nature” within the urban environment.
January 25, 2006
Natural Areas of San Francisco: a Pre-Urban View
Local photographer and photo archivist Greg Gaar specializes in the natural areas of San Francisco such as sand dunes, hilltops, wildflowers and more. Listen to him narrate a slideshow tour of San Francisco before it was paved over and turned into a city.