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Recent Free Public Talks
Video Archive
2023 (January-December)

A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.

All events are free.
Most of our events are outdoors in the form of "Urban Forum: Walk 'n' Talks" but we will occasionally host indoor discussions at 518 Valencia Street, near 16th, in San Francisco (close to 16th Street BART)

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Saturday, May 20, noon

Food and Sports History in SOMA and the Mission

The Last Urban Forum Walk'n'Talk of Spring 2023 season, this is on the twin themes of Food and Baseball! Billed originally as a Mission District walk, we actually began at 8th and Market on the site of the old 1890s Central Park, and later the site of the Crystal Palace Market. Our trek took us to 8th and Harrison for some baseball history sweetened by an earlier sugar factory, then a saga of offal and stench near the 1857 Brannan Street bridge, on to Seals Stadium and Hamms Beer brewery, a glance at American Can Co. and Best Foods factory, then across the Mission to end at 15th and Valencia, the site of Big Rec, original home of the Mission Reds AND the San Francisco Seals.

Video here.

San Francisco's Natural Areas and Native Plants bike tour

Sunday, April 23

Peter Brastow, with help from Bob Hall, will share deep knowledge of San Francisco's remnant and flourishing natural areas as they lead us on bicycles to visit sites protected and managed by the Natural Resources Division of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (formerly the Natural Areas Program). Learn about the flora and fauna that comprised the original threads of our local web of life, and the urgent and often successful efforts to nurture and expand their presence in this dense urban environment. Nature IS in the city all around us!

Video here.

Sunday, March 26, 5-9pm

Oakland Tribune Tower

As part of Shaping San Francisco's ongoing 25th anniversary celebration in 2023, old friend John Law offered to host tours of the iconic Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland. John went the extra mile and dug up a bunch of history of the newspaper, the building, and Oakland more generally, and gave a delightfully entertaining tour of various nooks and crannies as well as taking up a series of steep century-old stairways to reach two ladders for the final ascent to the 307-foot high roof.

Video here.

Saturday, March 18, Noon

Journey to the Highest Peak, Mt. Davidson

This Urban Forum: Walk'n'Talk began at O'Shaughnessy and Portola and headed past a century-old reservoir to reach an old entry to Mt. Davidson. Up we went, spending some time at the top enjoying the views, as well as paying a visit to the old cement cross which has a large restoration project taking shape next to it. Down the the long steep street on the southwest side of the mountain, we eventually made our way to the Edgehill Mountain Open Space, walking through the forest where many trees fell in recent storms. The top of Edgehill features a number of remarkable homes, and after circumambulating the hill we made our way back to the beginning spot.

Video here.

Saturday, January 28, Noon

Bernal to Diamond Heights

Starting at the Richland Avenue overpass at the Bernal Cut, we ascended Fairmont Heights to Laidley Street to see the Poole-Bell Mansion and a number of whimsical architectural statements along that street. The Harry Steps took us to Beacon Street above Billy Goat Hill where we heard about the original Gray Bros. quarry that carved the hill that became a park. Traversing the new path to Haas Playground we continued up to the top of Diamond Heights before following a winding route through the west and southern edges of the neighborhood, along the rim of Glen Canyon at one point. Finally we returned to the starting point.

Video here.