California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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1967 Peace Mural in Oakland Revealed

Artist Emily Lou Packard was a sly artist who coined the term “militasaurus” for a fictional primordial creature which would “become extinct because he is over-armed.” The Kaiser Industries world headquarters in Oakland featured her 1967 mural of the “Peaceable Kingdom.” But the glass eyeballs disturbed patrons.

This illustrated article tells the story about this fantastic 6’x26′ artwork that’s been in storage at the Oakland Museum of California since 1980.

Lincoln Cushing
Archivist and historian, Kaiser Permanente

Collection of the Oakland Museum of California

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Christopher Fan on Silicon Valley

In this narrative progression from marginalized identity to predominant position of power, we find the nucleus of Silicon Valley’s mythology: Nerds win. Yet what this mythology has been very good at obscuring, through ritualistic repetition of the revenge narratives of white, male founders, is how deeply racialized the narrative is. Not all nerds are entitled to equal portions of revenge.

There’s not enough resentment toward Silicon Valley. I say that while acknowledging the dripping anger that pervades everyday life in the Bay Area. This was at its most visible during last year’s massive protests against the Google Bus—a metonym for the extensive network of imposing, privately chartered buses that use public stops to pick up and transport tech workers 40-some miles from San Francisco to their offices on the peninsula. These tensions have arisen in response to skyrocketing housing prices and community displacement—both direct consequences of the influx of Silicon Valley money and the regulatory capture of local governments. Some San Franciscans do not wish to live in a suburb of Palo Alto.

From: “Not All Nerds” by Christopher Fan in the new California-themed issue of The New Inquiry (subscribe)

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Oppositional print shops of the SF Bay Area


Richard Krech, “Edna,” and a .410 shotgun, at the boneyard, 1968. Photo by Harold Adler, all rights reserved.

During the 1960s there was a powerful confluence of movements, and much of that vibrance has been missed in current histories. I’ve been researching the swath of print shops that in the terminology of today’s post-Occupy world would be called the media outlets of the 99%. These were run by poets, communists, black nationalists, Vietnam veterans, Raza activists, pot smokers, free speechers and liberated women, all struggling to get their message out. My most recent listing is a local shop I’d never heard of, Noh Directions Press. My curiosity was aroused when I noticed their logo on a poster I’m cataloging for the Oakland Museum of California.

I love a challenge, and after email queries, phone calls, institutional researching, false leads, and lots of editorial back-and-forth I drew out a description and a stunning photo. This is the kind of documentation of our own history we have to do before it’s too late to get it right, or someone else will get it wrong.

-Lincoln Cushing

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New Master of Arts in Urban Affairs in San Francisco



California Studies folks: There’s a great new MA program starting this fall at the University of San Francisco. Although the priority deadline has passed, USF is still recruiting for students to join the inaugural cohort; admissions will be rolling through the summer.  The fall term begins in August.

This is a two-year interdisciplinary masters with an emphasis on urban social justice. The program combines rigorous academics with an internship and applied research; community-engaged projects will contribute to and benefit from the vibrancy of the San Francisco Bay Area. See below for links to the program website.

The program is housed in the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, which has this to say about the new MA:

The MA in Urban Affairs Program is ideal for students who wish to become specialists in analyzing the challenges of 21st Century urbanism. The program leverages the advantages of its unique location in the San Francisco Bay Area – one of the most dynamic urban environments in the United States. Students have opportunities to develop practical research skills from extensive engagement in San Francisco and Bay Area cities.

The program includes:

  • Core courses in urban studies, public policy, and research methods
  • Elective courses offered by prominent practitioners in the field
  • An innovative community-based research requirement, which gives students direct experience in conducting applied urban research, analyzing policy alternatives and working with community-based organizations
  • capstone project and internship, where students develop expertise in particular areas of urban policy while building personal and career networks

More information is available on the USF website.

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Web resource on Berkeley historical landmarks and subjects

The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project has produced over 100 actual and virtual markers of this city’s rich culture. It’s a great example of using the Web to share history and geographical content. Subjects include a huge range –  fitness guru Jack Lalanne, film critic Pauline Kael, the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and environmentalist David Brower.
My own contribution was an illustrated essay on
Sidewalk Contractor Stamps. [LMC]Image

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Wherever There’s a Fight!

San Francisco is rich in civil rights history – but you may have walked past certain street corners many times and not realized that battles were fought there for labor rights, lesbian and gay equality, freedom of expression, disability rights and more.   Join Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, coauthors of Wherever There’s a Fight:  How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California takes us on a virtual tour that uncovers San Francisco’s hidden history – from the Yick Wo Laundry, whose owner challenged anti-Chinese laws,  to the Votes for Women Club where working women organized their victorious campaign for suffrage, to the site of a police raid on a lesbian and gay New Year’s Eve gala that predated Stonewall.

Wednesday, February 13 from 6:30 – 8 PM, at the San Francisco Main Public Library.

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Recent California books on community graphic art

These three titles each provide ample evidence that graphic artists of the American West, and especially the San Francisco Bay Area, have been passionate social antennae adept at revealing early on social issues that presage national and even international ones. [LMC]


Hobos to Street People: Artists’ Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present, by Art Hazelwood. Freedom Voices Press, 2011.

Curated and edited by Art Hazelwood, this book also serves as an illustrated catalog for a travelling exhibition. It examines social stereotypes about our populations that have fallen through the “safety net” from the Great Depression to our current Wall Street-fueled miasma. Social justice artists from the 1930s are mashed up with those of today, including Doug Minkler, Jos Sances, David Bacon, and Eric Drooker.  More than just an aesthetic examination, it explores the analyses and community-based institutions that challenge this tragic byproduct of capitalism.


Notes from a Revolution: Com/Co, The Diggers, & the Haight, by Kristine McKenna and David Hollander. Foggy Notion Books, 2012.

The Diggers were one of the legendary Bay Area countercultural institutions of the late 1960s.  They used street theater, modern communications systems (e.g., the Gestetner duplicator), humor, poetry, and a passion for liberation to challenge the dark side of private property and corporate greed. They were outrageous, wild, and very subversive. The text includes interviews coupled with reproductions of their colorful and evocative flyers. Not indexed, but includes a helpful timeline.

Art of the Dead: A Celebration of the Artists Behind the American Rock Poster Movement, edited by Phil Cushway, 2012 (self-published)

Rather than just another rock poster book, this one explores how the dynamic evolution of a unique band – The Grateful Dead – spurred artists to push technological limits and breed a distinct graphic style. Cushway has done his homework and knows what he’s talking about, but he lets others tell the story. Interviews and annotations help the viewer to examine cryptic typography, layered imagery, and the magic of offset printing. Richly illustrated with beautiful reproductions of work ranging from the famous (Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin…) to the unknown. Indexed.

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New book on California’s coast

Richmond author and environmental activist Dave Helvarg will release his newest title from St. Martin’s Press, The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea,  February 19th. He’ll be doing book tours up and down the state, look for him.



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New Free Speech Movement photos

It’s hard to believe that history hasn’t been picked clean as years go by, but as an archivist I’m always amazed about new content that surfaces. Check out these color images taken during the confrontations at Sproul Hall in 1964, with the story of their accession. Thanks to FSM historian Barbara Stack for scanning and posting them. Image


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Public talk – FBI, Mario Savio, Reagan, and Clark Kerr

Bay Area investigative journalist Seth Rosenfeld’s long-awaited and controversial book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power is now out. Please come to a public presentation with the author and fellow traveller journalist Lowell Bergman Wednesday, September 19, 7 PM-8:30 PM

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; RSVP suggested.

The book examines the FBI’s covert operations concerning UC during the Cold War, and its activities regarding Clark Kerr, Mario Savio and Ronald Reagan. The book was on the S.F. Chronicle best seller list, and on the New York Times extended best seller list.

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Civil Liberties in SF

For those of you in the SF Bay Area, this is an event you won’t want to miss! It’s FREE and open to the public!

Civil Liberties in San Francisco with Stan Yogi and Elaine Elinson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 6:00pm

Join Stan Yogi and Elaine Elinson, co-authors of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, 2010 Gold Medal winner in the California Book Awards.

Wherever There’s a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. It connects the experiences of early Chinese immigrants subjected to discriminatory laws and expulsion to those of African Americans who challenged the color bar on San Francisco Streetcars and workers who fought for union contracts on the docks and in the fields.

With vivid, illustrated stories, the authors will take you on a tour of key civil liberties sites in San Francisco – places you may have passed every day without realizing the hidden history they hold. They will also share some treasures they found in the archives of the California Historical Society.

For more information visit the California Historical Society.

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San Francisco’s Own Rosa Parks

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, CSA Steering Committee member Elaine Elinson writes about Charlotte Brown, a young African American woman who challenged the color bar on San Francisco streetcars while the Civil War was still raging and news of the Emancipation Proclamation had not yet reached most slaves.

When young Charlotte Brown refused a San Francisco streetcar conductor’s demand to disembark because “colored persons were not allowed to ride,” she faced a social climate almost as hostile as Rosa Parks did in Montgomery, Ala., in 1954.

But Brown’s challenge came almost a century earlier – on April 17, 1863.

Click here to read the entire piece as featured on Sf Gate.

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Artwork honors California geographer

Michele Pred, daughter of the late UC Berkeley geography professor Allan Pred, has installed a memorial piece at an Oakland art gallery called “Radical Geographer: Portrait of my Father.” The collage explores the cross-generational love for politics, passion, and place. Swarm Gallery, through December 23.

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Elaine Elinson Writes to Commemorate the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in California

This month marks the centennial of women’s suffrage in California, a victory won almost a full decade before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote nationally.  In the San Francisco Chronicle edition of Oct. 9 CSA Steering Committee member Elaine Elinson described in her article “S.F. Women Helped Forge Suffrage Victory in State”, the creativity, tenacity and pure chutzpah involved in this crucial campaign for women’s right to vote.

From the article:

The campaign for suffrage began long before that momentous victory. In the late 1800s, California women – primarily from the urban upper-middle class – lobbied state and local governments for the right to vote. Buoyed by visits from leaders of the national suffrage movement, including Susan B. Anthony, California suffragists organized an intense lobbying campaign in the Legislature. Three hundred women went to Sacramento, claiming they represented 50,000 more who wanted the vote. They were met with ridicule. One legislator told them, “You are no more than 50,000 mice. Go home and look after your own girls. They may be walking the streets for all you know.”

In 1896, the first attempt to win the vote through a referendum suffered a crushing defeat, especially in San Francisco, then the most populous city in the state.

After the earthquake and fire of 1906, however, the movement regrouped and was transformed. It moved out of the parlors of upper-class women and into more public spaces – union halls, theaters, African American churches, libraries and even the street. In 1908, three-hundred women marched on the state Republican convention, meeting in Oakland, to demand that the party include suffrage in its electoral platform.


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New exhibit at Calif. Historical Society: Oyster Farm, featuring the documentary photography of artist Evvy Eisen, opening Oct. 27

From October 27, 2011 to January 19, 2012, the California Historical Society will host the exhibit Oyster Farm, featuring the documentary photography of artist Evvy Eisen. Evvy Eisen’s photographs will be accompanied by pieces of ephemera and other materials from the rich collections of the California Historical Society. From the CHS’s announcement:

When discussing Oyster Farm, Evvy Eisen explains, “I set out to photograph the workers at the Drakes Bay Oyster Company because they are part of our community, though few of us have ever seen them or understand what they do. They stood before my camera, with dignity and patience. Their portraits communicate information specific to these individuals, but also illuminate essential aspects of the universal human condition.”

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located on Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore in western Marin County. It is also currently the center of a controversy about whether it will be permitted to remain in operation after 2012. Opposing positions have divided the community and have been argued at the state and national levels as well. This exhibit does not deal with the complex issues involved in these disagreements. Rather it focuses on the people who work at the oyster farm, who are silent and stoic in the face of an uncertain future. Their portraits communicate information specific to them but also illuminate essential aspects of the universal human condition and reveal unrecognized facets of daily life at the Drakes Bay Oyster Company. This exhibit creates a place where differences can be set aside, and where the people portrayed can be appreciated in a new light.

Evvy Eisen was born and educated in New York City and has lived and worked in Marin County since 1971. She specializes in environmental portraits and often works on long-term projects, portraying the people involved in socially relevant issues.

Please join us for the Oyster Farm opening reception on November 16 at 5:30 p.m. and meet artist Evvy Eisen. The event is free and open to the public.

Oyster Farm is on view at the California Historical Society from October 27, 2011 through January 19, 2012. For more information about this exhibition visit

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Elaine Elinson reviews Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, by Erika Lee and Judy Yung

Blog editor’s note: Elaine Elinson has forwarded the CSA blog the following review of a new book about immigration through Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. The blog is open to submissions of reviews of other relevant books.


Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, By Erika Lee and Judy Yung

Reviewed by Elaine Elinson


In the last month of summer, I arrived in America on ship.

After crossing the ocean, the ship docked and I waited to go on shore.

Because of the records, the innocent was imprisoned in a wooden building.

Reflecting on the event, my heart is vexed and depressed.

I composed a poem to rid myself of sadness and worry…

Sitting here, uselessly delayed for long years and months, I am like a pigeon in a cage.


This anonymous poem found carved into the walls of the men’s detention barracks at Angel Island, captures the anguish faced by many of those who passed through the West Coast’s most famous immigration station.

From 1910 until it was closed in 1940, half a million people stopped first on Angel Island before being allowed onto the shore at San Francisco.  Another half million caught their last glimpse of the United States from the island off the coast of San Francisco as they were deported.

Thanks to the work of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, the site is now a National Historic Landmark. The Chinese poems first recovered by U.S. Park Ranger Alexander Weiss in 1970 just before the building was to be destroyed, give a glimpse into the experiences of the 100,000 Chinese who were detained there, the largest immigrant group to pass through Angel Island.

But a new book by Erika Lee and Judy Yung.  Angel Island:  Immigrant Gateway to America, (Oxford University Press) for the first time uncovers the history of the wide range of immigrants who landed there from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.  Aging photographs show Japanese women in kimonos, an African woman wrapped in patterned cloth holding her two children, a Turkish mother and son, and Sikh men in suits and turbans.

In addition to the treasure trove of 187 Chinese poems, now carefully preserved and translated, the authors examined another 156 inscriptions in Japanese, Korean Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.

Exclusion not admission

Though it is often called the “Ellis Island of the West,” Lee and Yung point out that the Angel Island Immigration Station was designed “with exclusion, not admission” in mind.  No Statue of Liberty greeted the hopeful immigrants fleeing from hunger, war and political chaos in their home countries.  There was no plea for the “huddled masses” to enter the lamp-lit “golden door.”   Instead they faced harsh interrogation – sometimes lasting for weeks — grueling medical inspections, and bleak quarters, segregated by race and gender, all designed to prevent the newcomers from entering the country. If they did succeed in gaining entry, the law barred citizenship for those of Asian ancestry.

Lee and Yung argue that the immigration station itself was mainly built to enforce the Chinese exclusion laws of the late 1800s, culminating in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  Previously there had been an “open door” immigration policy, but as more and more restrictive laws were enacted, the growing number of new arrivals could not be contained at the rickety wharf side detention shed or in steerage quarters on steamships docked in San Francisco Bay.  The crowded, inhumane conditions put political pressure on the government to build a new immigration station for persons arriving from Asia.

On opening day, January 21, 1910, the authors describe how 101 Chinese detainees and “one gloomy Hindu” were brought from the detention shed to the island barracks. More than 400 others were transferred from steamships in the harbor. These were the first of the estimated one million people who were kept there over the next three decades.

Their personal stories are the heart of the book.  Though the authors have a commanding knowledge of immigration law and the U.S. national interests and changing international politics that shaped it, the most fascinating aspect of this book is the richly detailed examination of the lives of those who came from all corners of the earth to this island.

The stories of Angel Island powerfully illustrate how race, class and gender have all shaped U.S. immigration policy.  The authors conclude that Angel Island “directly helped to maintain two Americas:  one that allowed immigrants to make better lives for themselves and become Americans, and another that treated immigrants as unwanted foreigners who were to be denied entry and removed.”

Though a 1940 fire destroyed most of the administrative records, the authors combed through government archives, INS records, personal diaries and letters and conducted scores of oral history interviews with those who passed through Angel Island and their descendants, unearthing detailed, often poignant stories.

The Chinese came in the largest numbers, but through the decades they were joined by 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos and others.  There are even records of 400 Mexicans who decided it was safer to come by sea rather than overland during the stormy period of the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath.

Indian revolutionaries

Through their tenacious research, the authors have uncovered some surprising history.  For example, immigrants from South Asia came through Angel Island just as the nascent independence movement against the British in India was gaining strength.  Many became involved in the Gadar (Rebellion) Party, fighting against British imperialism at home, while challenging discriminatory laws in the U.S. Immigration officials collected surveillance on the Indian arrivals and shared it with the British.  When Gadar members returned to India to join the popular revolt after World War I broke out, many were arrested by the British raj.  Singh Sarabha, a Gadar activist who had passed through Angel Island on his way to study at Berkeley, was sentenced to death and executed.

Filipino immigrants faced perhaps most unusual and unjust situation of all. When the Philippines was under U.S. rule, Filipinos were generally admitted to the United States as “U.S. nationals.”  But after the path to Philippine independence was set in 1934, with the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act (which Philippine nationalists termed the Philippine Commonwealth and Independence Law) their status abruptly changed to “aliens.”

The new law offered independence for the Philippines after a ten-year waiting period, but also subjected Filipino immigrants to the quota system for the first time. Reclassified as aliens, Filipinos became subject to the same restrictions as other Asian immigrants – they could not own land or become naturalized citizens.

This was particularly cruel for hundreds of Filipino passengers who arrived in San Francisco just days after the law was passed.  They had left their homeland before the law was signed and therefore had no valid visas.  Lacking proper documentation, they were denied admission.

Repatriation “trick”

The following year, Congress passed the Repatriation Act, which Angel Island Commissioner Edward Cahill called a “Big Brotherly gesture of help and assistance to the Filipinos who have come the US and now find themselves in difficulties.”  It offered government assistance for Filipinos to return to their homeland – but it also barred them from ever reentering the United States.

Calling it a “massive deportation campaign in disguise,” the authors cite muckraking journalist Carey McWilliams ‘ description that “repatriation is a “trick and not a very clever trick to get Filipinos out of this country.”  Though officials hoped that half the total Filipino immigrant population would “voluntarily” leave the U.S., in the end only 2,000 Filipinos (out of 108,000) took them up on the offer.

Lee and Yung have amplified the voices of those who carved messages in the walls of the Angel Island detention barracks, whether classical Chinese poems or barely legible words in Korean or Punjabi. In doing so, they have allowed them to tell the stories that were long missing in U.S. immigration history.


Elaine Elinson is a member of the CSA Steering Committee and coauthor of the award-winning Wherever There’s a Fight:  How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California. An earlier version of this review appeared in the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

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“Effect of Co-op on Berkeley’s Culture and Politics” – Discussion at the Berkeley History Center, Sept. 4

On Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, at 3:00 p.m., the Berkeley Historical Society will be presenting a panel discussion as one of their “Co-Op Lectures” on the “Effect of Co-op on Berkeley’s Culture and Politics”.

Speakers will be Bob Schildgen, former Co-op News editor, Chuck Wollenberg, author and history professor, Bruce Miller, former Co-op board president in the 80s, and Linda Rosen, co-curator of the exhibit and BHS past president. Question and answer period to follow.  Admission free. Donations accepted.

The event will take place at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street, Berkeley

For more information, click here.

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Jeff Lustig to give book talk on “Remaking California” at Doug Adams Gallery, Berkeley, Feb. 10

Jeff Lustig will give a book talk on his new book, Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, at the Doug Adams Gallery at the Bade Museum in Berkeley on Feb. 10.

From the announcement:

February 10, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Location: Doug Adams Gallery in the Bade Museum, 1798 Scenic Ave, Berkeley, CA
“Remaking California” author talk with Heyday Books author Jeff Lustig and reception.

In Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, leading writers and scholars probe the roots of this crisis, trace its effects on people’s lives and the environment, and propose reforms to remedy problems and restore the state’s democratic promise. They conclude that only a systemic overhaul will shake California out of its paralysis, and they debate the promise and pitfalls of a new constitutional convention for remaking the Golden State. Contributors include Dan Walters, Lenny Goldberg, Kevin Starr, Mark Paul, former Senator Barry Keene, and many more.

Jeff Lustig is a professor of government at California State University, Sacramento. He is the author of Corporate Liberalism: The Origins of Modern American Political Theory, 1890–1920, and he has written numerous articles on American and Californian politics and political theory, the corporatization of the modern university, and on immigration, race, and class. He was director of the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento, and founding chair of the California Studies Association. He has been a trustee of the California Historical Society and a founder and chair of Northcoast Labor History Project

For more info:

Christina Vander Vos
Gallery Associate
Doug Adams Gallery (CARE)
1798 Scenic Avenue
Berkeley, CA-94709

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Date Change: Next California Studies dinner Feb. 22, not 15: Keally McBride speaks on “California Squealing: Prisons and the End of the Neoliberal Exception”

DATE CHANGE. The next California Studies dinner has been moved to Feb. 22 from Feb. 15, 2011; the program remains the same: the speaker will be Keally McBride, Department of Politics, University of San Francisco, and the title of the talk will be “California Squealing:  Prisons and the End of the Neoliberal Exception.”

Guests who RSVP’d for the early date need to re-RSVP.


Feb. 22, 2011 (REVISED)
7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St. (just above Telegraph Ave), Berkeley.

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but guests are asked for a small donation for those partaking of wine and beverages.

PLEASE RSVP by Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740

phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail:


Next California Studies Dinner Jan. 20: Waldo Martin speaks on writing a political history of the Black Panther Party

The next California Studies dinner will take place Jan. 20, 2011 in Berkeley; the speaker will be Waldo Martin, Professor of History, UC Berkeley, and the title of his talk will be “Up Against the Wall MŠFŠ:  Notes on co-writing a Political history of the Black Panther Party.”


Jan. 20, 2011
7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St. (just above Telegraph Ave), Berkeley.

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but guests are asked for a small donation for those partaking of wine and beverages.
PLEASE RSVP by Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740
phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail:

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Next Calif. Studies Dinner Nov. 17; Mark Brilliant on how racial diversity shaped civil rights reform

The next California Studies dinner will take place Nov. 17, 2010 in Berkeley; the speaker will be Mark Brilliant, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Program in American Studies, UC-Berkeley, who will speak on the topic of his new book, The Color of America Has Changed:  How racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California 1941-78.


November 17, 2010
7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St. (just above Telegraph Ave), Berkeley.

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but guests are asked for a small donation for those partaking of wine and beverages.
PLEASE RSVP by Friday, November 12, 2010, to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740
phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail:

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Civil Rights and Race During World War 2: Book event Oct. 24 in El Cerrito

Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, authors of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, will discuss and sign copies of their book as part of “Civil Rights and Race During World War II,” a panel discussion with historian Donna Graves and National Park Service Ranger Betty Reid Soskin. This event is cosponsored by Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League, Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, City of Richmond, Richmond Art Center, and Preserving California’s Japantowns.

Details: Sunday, October 24 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., East Bay Free Methodist Church, 5395 Potrero Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530

Free and open to the public; for more information call (510) 620-6952.

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Patricia McBroom reports on how locals maintain crucial levees in the Sacramento Delta

CSA Steering Committee member Patricia McBroom has a eye-opening piece on her “California Spigot” blog today about how locals in the Sacramento Delta take responsibility for maintaining levees that are crucial not only for their own survival but also for the water supply of the state. At the same time, McBroom reports that the locals feel left out of state planning for the future of the Delta.

From the blog:

This story about Bradford [where locals had stepped in to repair levee damage caused when a freighter struck the levee] is sadly illustrative of a larger phenomena that affects everyone in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  California relies on local people to maintain levees that are critical to our water supply, yet those same people are all but invisible to State officials planning a huge – and expensive – project to divert water from upriver near Sacramento.  We will get our first view of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) next month in a preliminary draft release, but several things have been clear about this plan for at least a year.

One, it has little or no input from Delta people or their elected representatives in the five county region – Sacramento, Stockton, Contra Costa County, Yolo and Sonoma.  Thirteen members of Congress and the State Legislature from those counties sent a protest letter last month which said in part “The Delta community has long been told….they will be involved in decision–making about the future of their own communities, even though they have been mostly excluded to date.”

To read the whole blog, click here.

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Oakland Museum of California obtains historic poster collection

As reported by the Oakland Tribune on Oct. 9, 2010, the Oakland Museum of California has obtained a collection of more than 23,000 posters collected by Michael Rossman, who was one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in the ’60s.  Rossman, who died in 2008, assembled the collection over 30 years. When he died, his wishes, according to his widow, Karen McLellan, were that “the collection [be] kept together, and he wanted it to stay in the Bay Area and he wanted it to be accessible to everyone.”

Since Rossman’s death, his friend Lincoln Cushing (a member of the CSA Steering Committee) has cataloged the collection, photographing each poster, and Cushing will continue to work on the collection now that it is housed at the museum.  The museum is already planning three exhibitions from the collection to take place over the next few years, and also has plans to make the collection accessible to the public on-line.

For more information, the Tribune article can be accessed by this link.


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Book Party: Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, Thur Aug 12

Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good – Heyday.

Heyday and the California Historical Society invite you to
Is California a Failed State?
The Political Crisis in Historical Perspective

A book party for Heyday’s
Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good
Edited by Jeff Lustig

Thursday, August 12
Reception at 6:00 p.m., presentation at 6:30 p.m.
678 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105
RSVP by August 6 to

California is in trouble. Its budgets are frozen, its schools in decline, its water system collapsing, and its roads in disrepair. A historical perspective sheds fresh light on the roots of this crisis and on ways to reclaim the public good. It helps us see ways to rebuild the world—the schools, parks, libraries, and political institutions—our children will inherit. Which specific reforms should we seek, or is it time for a constitutional convention?
Join a discussion of these topics with:
Jeff Lustig, editor of Remaking California, and contributors to the book:
Lenny Goldberg, California Tax Reform Association, on “How to Reform Proposition 13”
Osha Meserve, land use lawyer, on “The Dilemmas of Delta Water”
Free and open to the public, but RSVP required; for more informaion call (415) 357-1848, ext. 229.

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LaborFest 2010: Events Throughout July


Welcome to LaborFest 2010

LaborFest 2010 takes place in the midst of devastating economic conditions for working people in the San Francisco Bay Area nationally and internationally. We now have the highest unemployment since the 1930’s. Since last LaborFest, millions of workers have lost their jobs, healthcare and their homes. Furloughs, cutbacks and layoffs are a daily experience for working people in San Francisco and around the country.

Today in San Francisco, 9,000 hotel workers are without a contract and are fighting multi-national hotel chains while over 100,000 state workers are working without a contract and a massive assault on their conditions and benefits.

All pensions and public services are under direct threat as well as the right to a public education for millions of workers and their families in California. All these gains have been won only after decades of effort by working people and organized labor.

The history of working people in San Francisco is one of tremendous struggle and solidarity to defend our unions and living conditions. In the midst of the 30’s depression in San Francisco, workers defeated the union busting efforts in the 1934 general strike and formed unions not only in longshore but among hundreds of thousands of workers making San Francisco one of the most unionized cities in the US.

This year’s LaborFest will commemorate the general strike of 1934 with films, plays, walks and forums. It will also have many new walks tieing the history of the working people to our buildings and regional sites. We are linking up with City Guides who will be co-sponsoring some of these walks with LaborFest.

We are also commemorating the projects of the WPA, which were built during the 1930’s. These monuments are a testament to the fact that public works can make a critical contribution to the lives of the workers who build them and to the advancement of our society. With mass unemployment among building trades workers, the need for work at union scale is critical. Many of these sites still contribute to our lives and make San Francisco and the Bay Area a unique and beautiful place.

We invite your participation and hope to expand LaborFest to your union and community in the coming years. We will be streaming some of the events on the web this year as well. Also, we have a Facebook page and we invite you to contribute your thoughts, ideas and pictures to this festival through these communication tools. Help make LaborFest an important vehicle to bring labor history and consciousness to the fore.

In Solidarity,
The LaborFest Organizing Committee

Graphic by Loise Gilbert “Bridges Negotiates for ILWU”

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Richard Register of Ecocity Builders: Drawings at SPUR in San Francisco

From: Richard Register

My dear friends!

I just finished hanging a show of my drawings over the last 35 years you
might be interested in.

Come on by and see a rather unusual, and in the ³old days,² a rather
prescient development of ideas becoming ever more common.

Some of the features old for me include putting highways underground
(³decking over,² which was originally something of a dreamy hopeful joke,
now coming true in many places), creating high density urban pedestrian
environments (like the new pedestrian Time¹s Square), bridging between
buildings high in the sky (like the High Line, also in New York City and
becoming more common especially on university campuses and at an
extraordinary new development in Changwon, South Korea) and whole supposed ecocities in China (of which I have some drawings that go beyond what they are actually building there). Rooftop gardens? Getting more popular by the day. High-density transit-oriented centers? I preceded the New Urbanists. Recognition of Paolo Soleri and his extraordinary very early versions of ecocities? I¹m one of the few who gives him credit ­ and tries out some of
his ideas for hyper compact extreme low energy cities of the sort that would
make the BP blowout and spill in the Gulf of Mexico a total non-starter. ³We
don¹t need no stinking oil wells!²

So do come by. It¹s something of my retrospective in drawings: the offices
of SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) in downtown San

When: The show will be up from today to July 16. Tuesdays 11:00am to 8pm,
Wednesdays through Fridays 11:00am to 5:00pm. Closed Saturday through

Address: 654 Mission Street. I¹ll also be giving a purchasable brown bag
lunch talk there about my life as something of an artist/activist/early
urban ecologist at noon on the 7th. Do come if curious.

For ecological health and good times for all of us including the other
animals and the plants we are busily orbiting with,


PS Buy my book, Ecocities, and join our group, Ecocity Builders: <;
Good work, needs help!

Thanks to Bill Mastin, Tawni Aaron, Rick Smith and Emily Wright for working
with me installing this show of drawings.

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California Labor History course starts August 17 at the Mission campus of San Francisco City College

Fred Glass, Communications Director of the California Federation of Teachers, AFT/AFL-CIO, will be teaching a course on California Labor History at the Mission Campus of San Francisco City College (1125 Valencia Street), starting August 17. Classes will be Tuesday evenings, 6:30 – 9:15 pm.

The course will be based on the award-winning video series & curriculum, Golden Lands, Working Hands.

The course offers 3 units college credit, CSU-applicable; scholarships are available.

For questions about the course and requirements call 510-523-5238.

Register for LCS 88 online at

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“Worth a Thousand Words: Images of Jewish Reinvention on America’s Pacific Edge” — Next California Studies Dinner, May 19

The next California Studies dinner will take place Wednesday, May 19, 2010; the speakers and topic are:

Ava F. Kahn, Independent Scholar & Author
Ellen Eisenberg, Author & Professor of History at Willamette University

“Worth a Thousand Words:

Images of Jewish Reinvention on America’s Pacific Edge”

Time: 7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Place: Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St.(just above Telegraph Ave), Berkeley.

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but a small donation is asked for those partaking of wine and beverages.

RSVP by Friday, May 14, 2010 to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740 phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail: