Join our list:

Public Talks

Free! All Talks begin at 7:30 pm  unless otherwise noted.

At various locations (see below). Additional offsite events are also listed here.

We are recommencing our ongoing Public Talks at 518 Valencia this Fall. Some of our celebratory events that are collaborative Public Talks in other locations are also listed here to make the calendar continuous.

Our Public Talks are partly underwritten by the City Lights Foundation and Rainbow Grocery Cooperative.

Download the Spring 2024 calendar as a pdf

Archive of past talks

All our Talks have been integrated into our digital archive at, and may be easier to access there.

Topic areas of our audio recordings of public talks going back to 2006:

podcast subscription To subscribe to our Talks as a podcast, paste the link into your favorite podcast software (iTunes, Podcast Addict, etc.)

Confused about podcast subscribing? Go here for an explanation on how to do it.

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.

Friday, July 5, 7:30 pm

90th Anniversary of Big Strike

at 518 Valencia Street

On the 90th anniversary of "Bloody Thursday," July 5, 1934, labor historians and ILWU veterans will discuss the history and legacy of the longshore union in San Francisco's politics. Featuring Gifford Hartman, Chris Carlsson, Peter Olney and others TBA.

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