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Next Three Events:

Bicycle and Walking tours, Public Talks, plus Bay Cruises!

Download our new Spring 2024 calendar as a pdf here.

Wednesday, May 22, 7:30 pm

Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

at 518 Valencia Street

RAINBOW GROCERY Cooperative, a long-time supporter of Shaping San Francisco’s Public programming, will be our featured guests. Rainbow has been a steady presence in San Francisco’s Mission District for almost a half century. Come meet current staffers, learn about the post-pandemic issues facing the store, hear about the advantages of cooperative self-management, and bring your questions about food politics, grocery price inflation, flood recovery, and whatever else you’ve been wondering about.

This is a free event, but we gladly accept donations. donate now!

Saturday, June 1, 2-4 pm

On The Bay film program
+ Bay Cruise, 4-6:30 pm

at Exploratorium's Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum, Pier 15

Together with Shaping San Francisco, the Cinema Arts Program at the Exploratorium presents short films created by artists and scientists, who explore unique cultural aspects of our Bay—its waterways, shorelines, the natural elements, and humans at work and play. The program, located in the Kanbar Forum, will be followed by a shoreline history boat tour at 4pm from the Exploratorium at Pier 15 with a separate ticket.

Films Include:

Notes on the Port of Saint Francis (1951, 22 min.) by Frank Stauffacher and assisted by filmmaker Hy Hirsh, is a short impressionistic documentary that captures the unique aspects of mid-twentieth century San Francisco with its diverse neighborhoods and a thriving port. The film was co-produced by the SF Maritime Museum and the California Historical Society. In 2013 the Library of Congress selected this film for the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant. The narration, written by Robert Lewis Stevenson in 1882, is of its time. We look back with fresh eyes as we re-examine this film and our present day coastline through a new framework and boat tour developed by Shaping San Francisco. Projected on 16mm film.

Crossing the Bar (1992, 8 min., 16mm) by Andrew Black who will be in person. A meditation on the landscapes of the San Francisco Bay as seen from the deck of a tugboat where Mr. Black was employed for several years in the late eighties. The film invites us to experience the bay from multiple perspectives using black and white and color 16mm images, music, and narration. Projected on 16mm film.

Chinese Whispers: Bay Chronicles (2015, 9 min) by Rene Yung This short documentary, created for an installation at the National Maritime Museum in San Francisco, brings to light the forgotten history of Chinese Shrimp fisherman in the Bay Area. Working with a team of artists, historical ecologists, and cultural experts sailing the original bay routes on the replica Chinese fishing boat, the Grace Quan, the artist surfaces lost stories as she revisits their thriving camps once situated along the bay.

Then join us for one of Chris Carlsson's unique shoreline history Bay Cruises with Fish Emeryville.

The film program alone requires admission to the Exploratorium.
Bay Cruise: "City Front"
boat tour 4-6:30, $69 each, reservations here.

Saturday, June 8, Noon

Notorious San Francisco: True Tales of Crime, Passion, and Murder

Walk with Paul Drexler

A walking tour through the history of the Barbary Coast, “The Wickedest Place in the West,” from its gold rush beginning to its end in 1917. Learn about famous serial killers of San Francisco, “Shanghai” Kelly and Miss Piggott, Billy Goat Saloon, the legendary Bella Union, the whisky warehouse that saved the Barbary Coast during the 1906 Earthquake.

$25-40 sliding scale donation requested to benefit Shaping San Francisco donate now!

Explore Shaping San Francisco:

Ecology Emerges poster art by Mona Caron

Ecology Emerges

Discussions and reflections on the history of Bay Area ecological activism, based on oral histories documenting the past 50 years.

Ecology Emerges is an oral history gathering project to explore the past 50 years of ecological activism in the Bay Area and the role that individual and institutional memories play in the development, policy proposals, and interrelationships that together make up the existing networks of ecological politics.  We document the living ecological activist movement, in their own words, but also in a larger context of urban growth and globalization.

Read more…

Oral Histories

Oral Histories

Shaping San Francisco, as part of our ongoing work, sits down with people who have stories to tell and conducts oral history interviews.

Check them out here.

"Editor's Pick Tour" from

Comprised of over 1,400 pages, and 2,500 historical photos, the wiki-based archive is the product of hundreds of contributors, regular people who were compelled by the chance to investigate some piece of this City's past.

See the latest highlights…