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 Street, in San Francisco
A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.
Download the Fall 2016 calendar as a pdf.
Archive of past talks
Online audio archive of past talks, listed by type:
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The 1966 Hunter’s Point riot has disappeared into the fog of San Francisco’s lost memories. Erupting after police shot a young African-American man running away from a stolen car, it led to martial law and military patrols in both Hunter’s Point and the Fillmore. Join us as we hear from Darrell Rogers who lived through the riot, trace San Francisco’s black community history up to the present with Rheema Calloway (The Last 3%), and examine the stark similarities between then and now with Adriana Camarena, active with several coalitions seeking radical reform of local policing practices after multiple police murders in the past few years.
photo: National Guard clearing 3rd Street, September 28, 1966,
Shaping San Francisco collection
Art & Politics: Jenny Odell,
Art as Archiving, Archiving as Art
Jenny Odell brings us an update on her ongoing project, the Bureau of Suspended Objects, which seeks an archaeological approach to the present by researching and archiving everyday discarded (or about-to-be-discarded) objects. First displayed at the dump, the objects are seen as true artifacts: crystallizations of a whole set of desires, economic contingencies, material availabilities, and abstract valuations that are more specific to their time than we could possibly realize now. As a result, all objects come to seem "limited edition," and the present is understood as imminently historical.
photo: courtesy Jenny Odell
19th Century California
Indian Slavery and Genocide
After more than 150 years, finally historians—and perhaps Californians—are facing up to the horrifying truth that the Indians of California were subjected to a vicious and genocidal campaign of extermination from the beginning of U.S. control in 1846 until after the Civil War. New scholarship shows that Indian slavery was the key source of labor that helped create the early "economy" of California and enrich its first settlers. Explore complicated stories of cultural, religious, and political conflict and assimilation, with both syncretic absorption and stubborn refusals, not reducible only to the slave-based rancheria and mission economy.
With Lisbeth Haas (author of Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California), Elias Castillo (author of A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions), and Valentin Lopez (chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribe). Special guest Rose Aguilar (KALW's "Your Call") moderates.
image: Rumsen or Costonoan men resisting Spanish dragoon 1791
Compton's Cafeteria 50th Anniversary—The Transformation of Trans Politics and Identity
Felicia Elizondo recounts her experiences in the Tenderloin when trans women erupted on a late August night in 1966 and rebuked police harassment with an epic mini-riot at Compton’s Cafeteria at Turk and Taylor. Annie Danger joins the conversation to help illuminate the long path over the decades to today’s high profile trans activism, still beset by obstacles and conflict within the gay community as well as the larger surrounding culture.
photo: Trans March 2016, by Chris Carlsson
Death of Money:
Diggers 50 Years Later
From free food to free stores, free money, and free communication, the Diggers defined a politics a half century ago that continues to exert a powerful influence on radicals today. Original participants in the Digger movement, Judy Goldhaft and Kent Minault, describe the interventions, confrontations, and celebrations that ushered in the Death of Money, and later the Death of the Hippie. Eric Noble, Digger archivist, will show how archiving itself is a form of making history, and brings history across time while shaping contemporary sensibilities.
photo: Death of Money on Haight Street, courtesy The Digger Archives.
The Housing Crisis and The Growth Consensus:
What's Wrong with this Picture?
The housing crisis continues to wreak havoc across the Bay Area. Political leaders and planners all agree—growth is inevitable, and to many, desirable. We bring together three sharp critics of the local political establishment and its loony-tune fantasies of endless growth and trickle-down solutions. The hidden power grab in the consolidation of regional government—and the endless manipulations by the banking sector and local zoning rules—continue to throw thousands into penury and homelessness as the inevitable foundation beneath our much publicized “prosperity.”
With Zelda Bronstein (48hills.com), Darwin Bond-Graham (East Bay Express), and Jennifer Friedenbach (Coalition on Homelessness)
photo: Fire destroyed this (now-demolished) building in January 2015; what will be built here? by Chris Carlsson
The common wild species in cities—pigeons, dandelions, snails—are at best unloved. But writer Nathanael Johnson and artist Mona Caron ask us to give our attention to the urban wilderness. Learning to truly see our nonhuman neighbors can make life richer, and might just be the first step in more complex understandings of the wild and of ourselves in nature. Jason Mark (Sierra editor) moderates.
Co-hosted by Nature in the City
photo: Snails fill this vacant lot in Mission Bay, by LisaRuth Elliott
Divided We Fall:
Immigration and Scapegoating
Moments of hysteria in history have shaped our feelings toward immigration—either on a local or global scale—from anti-Chinese sentiments leading to decades of the Exclusion Act to events like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, to witnessing thousands of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America, we discuss the increase in security and scapegoating within our borders toward immigrant groups who become associated with these events. Lara Kiswani (Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)), Grant Din (Angel Island Immigration Station), and author Bill Ong Hing (USF Law School) who has written extensively on immigration, take us back in time and up to the present to look at detention, deportation, and communities defending against persecution becoming policy.
photo: Immigrants arrive on Angel Island, courtesy California State Parks
Shaping San Francisco is fiscally sponsored by Independent Arts & Media, a California non-profit corporation.