"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Location: San Francisco, CA

Website: www.thinkwalks.com

There was a time when Thinkwalks was nothing but tours and talks. Now we’re setting up a community education board on Divisadero and more projects are in the works!

November 2003: The first Water Walking Tour! (Vulcan Stairway)

Originally, Joel conducted tours mostly for visitors, but in late 2009, by popular demand, he retooled Thinkwalks as “Nerdy Tours for San Franciscans,” to great effect. There are so many people in SF with deep knowledge or curiosity about the city, and many newcomers who share that.

Since then, we’ve also welcomed travelers, newcomers and visitors. If you know the difference between the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, you’re San Franciscan enough for a Thinkwalk. Many of the people on these tours are deeply knowledgeable locals including scientists and curators, some of whom know the city amazingly well.

Joel, your guide, had been exploring and writing about the history of SF creeks and fresh water for years, and occasionally giving a public talk. He also helped create a number of public murals, the Wiggle bike route and various essential maps. You can find out more about him on the FAQ page.

Topics we explore and why
In general, we cover topics few others cover. Lots of people research (or spread myths) about the Gold Rush, Emperor Norton, The Barbary Coast and so on. But who else talks about how nature transformed into a city and how that unfolded?

Few guides research their own material from original source documents to find out how SF’s juicily-hidden neighborhoods got to be how they are now. At Thinkwalks, we tie an exploration of history, nature and art to the economic and population shifts, in the hope that the knowledge of the past empowers you to be a full participant in your world.

Sadly, many SF tour companies just spread rumors and silly myths!

San Francisco’s past is a quaint, colorful tale of eye-rolling stories and weird behaviors to be entertained by, right? Wrong. Hollywood would have it that way, and so would most local politicians. But the truth, when you dig it out of its commercially arranged grave, looks more like a parade of deeply concerned and idealistic innovators, trying things that help average people live more empowered and creative lives. Of course this causes trouble for the controlling economic interests, so they are elbowed out of “respectable” history and tucked behind the carefully sculpted stories of Emperor Norton (whose real story is that he was a creative capital speculator who went insane from being a loser in SF’s typical boom-bust economic games).
In a better world, those idealistic people are honored and studied as inspirational examples. At Thinkwalks, we like to hang out with creative people who feel the same.

We invite you to our tours to scrutinize the exhumed info with amazement—as a collaborative, deliberative effort! That’s right. That’s something very special to Thinkwalks: group discussions and evaluation of the evidence.

Yes, we love living in one of the most dynamic places in the world. Why would we want to dismiss it as a fairy tale?

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