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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, April 24, 7:30 pm

History of Monopoly/Game Night!

at 518 Valencia

David Giesen brings his extraordinary collection of original 1907 Monopoly game artifacts to anchor his presentation of the fascinating political history of the game, with roots in the anti-monopoly politics championed by Henry George in the 19th century. Following the presentation we will have a GAME NIGHT! San Francisco Trivia, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Cuban dominoes, bring your own! BYOB too!

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

Wednesday, May 8, 7:30 pm

Art & Politics: Hughen/Starkweather

at 518 Valencia

"Conversations, interviews, and deep research are a significant piece of their process for every project they take on. Feeling a “responsibility to educate the viewer, to give them a window in,” they have, over the course of the last decade, developed a nuanced strategy for avoiding what many artists fail to acknowledge as a problem: leaving their audiences out in the cold. . .When the colors and shapes of a nonrepresentational work of art rearrange themselves into remembrance or recognition, magic happens. Hughen/Starkweather describe this as “closing the space between abstraction and language.” Excerpt from Selene Foster article on Hughen/Starkweather's Adjacent Shores, April 2016.

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

Saturday, May 18, Noon

Settling of Early Noe Valley

Walk with SFPL — Noe Valley Branch

Shaping San Francisco joins the librarians from the Noe Valley Branch to hike across a vanished landscape of early Noe and Eureka Valleys. Skirting the lower reaches of Twin Peaks, we will maneuver among obscure stairways and forgotten early industrial sites.

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

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

Films and a boat ride, a collaboration between the Exploratorium Cinema Arts Program created by Liz Keim and Chris Carlsson of Shaping San Francisco. Together we present short films which explore unique cultural aspects of our Bay— its waterways, shorelines, the natural elements, and humans at work and play. Then join us for one of Chris's unique shoreline history Bay Cruises with Fish Emeryville.

Crossing the Bar by Andrew Black (1992, 8 min., 16mm)

Junkopia by Chris Marker (1983, 6 min.)

More To Come!

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