Recent Free Public Talks
March 2016-February 2017
A place to meet and talk unmediated by corporations, official spokespeople, religion, political parties, or dogma.
All events are free.
At 518 Valencia Street, near 16th, in San Francisco (close to 16th Street BART)
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Citizen Science/Extinction Culture
Doing science and making culture are increasingly intertwined as more and more amateur naturalists crowdsource the multi-layered experience of life on this planet. Authors of two new books Mary Ellen Hannibal (Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction) and Ursula Heise (Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species) illuminate the tangled, dynamic processes of thinking and doing that help us understand where we are and what we can—or ought to—do about living through this heartbreaking Great Extinction.
Visual and conceptual artist Packard Jennings talks about his work, through which he has reimagined and revisualized the world around us, shaking up our concepts and assumptions of how things are through humor and the reappropriation of pop culture imagery. Packard talks about his work which ranges from digital subversions to quiet mail-in actions to large scale, space interventions on billboards. He also speaks about work that gets made and that which doesn’t. This is part of a series of solo artists giving a behind the scenes and in depth look at what inspires them in the interrelationship between art and politics.
photo: courtesy Packard Jennings
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
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
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
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, Jane Lapiner, and David Simpson, 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.
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. The audience 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
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
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
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, 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
The first 40 minutes of the program consists of video clips, which are mostly embedded on Foundsf.org pages, with one on the San Francisco Bay Area Television archive at San Francisco State University. The links are here in the order they appear (in most cases you'll have to scroll down the page to find the playable videos)
1. "Take This Hammer" on http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Fillmore_Street_1960 (first 8.5 minutes)
2. Darrell Rogers on his experiences with the Congress on Racial Equality fighting widespread segregation in San Francisco 1962-64 Segregation_and_the_Civil_Rights_Movement_in_San_Francisco
3. "Point of Pride: The People's View of Bayview/Hunter's Point" (minutes 5:32 to 9:06) on http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Brief_History_of_Bayview-Hunters_Point
4. Thomas Fleming on HP Riot on http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Hunter%27s_Point_riot_by_Fleming
5. John Ross on blockading the Armory on http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Armory
6. Willie Brown at BV Community Center, and young man interviewed here: https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/191384
7. "Race Riot of 1966" by Dante Higgins here: http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=The_Hunters_Point_Riot
What can sounds tell us about the geography, people, and politics of a particular place? This panel explores the role sounds play in our everyday lives as well as how they can attune us to below-the-radar experiences and often “off the map” histories of the urban. Discover the intersection between sound and history with Jeremiah Moore and Sound Mappers Bruno Ruviaro and Christina Zanfagna.
Will Grant researches successes in global movements on climate change and environmental solutions. His work is creating understandable paths to an economy that is sustainable and even environmentally regenerative. Meanwhile, Tom Athanasiou directs Eco-Equity, a small but vital contributor to the global negotiations over climate change. Enthusiastic hope and acerbic realism meet head-to-head in this panorama of environmentalist politics and practice.
Decades after the Alaska oil pipeline began, we’ve gone through repeated booms and busts in oil production and prices. Antonia Juhasz has studied the history of the oil business and is one of the world’s best-informed critics of the industry. She is joined by Leila Salazar-Lopez of Amazon Watch, a group confronting oil giants in the Amazon, and by Joshua Kahn-Russell, author of A Line in the Tar Sands. All three explain the current balance of forces, and the prospects for keeping the “oil in the soil.”
The tumultuous decade of 1968–1978 in the San Francisco Bay Area—and the experimentation and cultural shifts throughout the 1960s that led up to that time—shook the City and forever shaped who we would understand ourselves and the world around us to be. Shaping San Francisco brings together authors from Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968–1978, their collection of bottom-up histories chronicling an awakening community, and contributors to Foundsf.org, their digital archive of San Francisco history, to provide contextual history of the time period in which Lawrence Halprin and Anna Halprin were forging their paths and utopian ideas.
Author and media artist Jesse Drew speaks about the diversity of communal options that sprung up in urban and rural settings then. Nina Serrano, poet and storyteller, recalls participating in happenings with Anna Halprin and the improvisational landscape the Halprins were creating within. Lincoln Cushing, poster archivist, shows how the intersections of various social movements provided the fabric for cultural emergence. Chris Carlsson, author and historian, traces the arc of ecological awareness that moved from the early 20th century patrician conservation movement to the more left-leaning ecology movement that emerged in the wake of labor and anti-war upheavals during the early 1970s. Historian LisaRuth Elliott moderates the discussion.
In the midst of the ongoing tech boom in the Bay Area, the biotech industry gets less attention than social media and “sharing” unicorns. What is going on with the push for “synthetic biology”? What are the implications for politics, manufacturing, medicine? Will the boundary between life and artifice persist? How do embedded paradigms reflect deeper assumptions about the structure of modern life? with Elliot Hosman, Pete Shanks, and Tito Jankowski.
A deeply informed, irreverent tour through San Francisco before the automobile took over half the City’s physical terrain. Historic photos illustrate many stories, including how Haight Street was named, the City was dominated by steam-powered rail, and San Franciscans lived before parking was an issue! with Angus Macfarlane, Emiliano Echeverria, and David Gallagher.
How the Non-Aligned Movement founded at the 1961 Belgrade Conference in Yugoslavia challenged the post-WWII world system based on the bipolar US-USSR Cold War. Yugoslavia, Indonesia, African decolonization struggles, Indian independence and partition, nationalism, third world socialism, and Third Worldism in the U.S. left with Eddie Yuen, Andrej Grubacic, and Walter Turner.