Meetings – 2015

  • 2015 Winter Solstice Luncheon

    Sunday, December 20, 2015

    Lots of good food, provided by SHARP, Jack Barry and May Pon, and SHARP pot-luckers. Special thanks to May for doing most of the work. Your intrepid reporter neglected to take photos or notes at this year’s Solstice overindulgence, so this highly selective report comes mostly from his unreliable memory, made still more unreliable by too much sugar.


  • Healing Minds: John R. McQuaid

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Depression afflicts millions, yet it can be treated, often without medication.  SHARP heard from an expert in the field, John R. McQuaid, Ph.D., who has been studying and treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for more than twenty years. McQuaid is a prominent figure in psychotherapy research, a professor of clinical psychology at UC San Francisco, and the Associate Chief of Mental Health for Clinical Administration at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC). In 2004, he co-authored a guide for laypersons: Peaceful Mind: Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology to Overcome Depression. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about, and you don’t need a degree to understand him.  In his talk at SHARP, he explained depression and PTSD, including the latest research about them, and used case examples to describe treatments that work, including what patients do for themselves. The patient does have to work, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like work because of the pay-off, and sometimes it’s literally fun. Non-blinding insight now supported by research: having fun is therapeutic.


  • “Citizen Science”

    Monday, October 26, 2015

    Dr. Rebecca Johnson, an invertebrate biologist and the co-coordinator of citizen science research at the California Academy of Sciences, described how ordinary people all over the world are helping to conduct scientific research.  They do routine tasks any layperson can do, such as collecting soil samples and classifying galaxies according to their shapes. In the Bay Area, people are doing citizen science also by discovering and documenting the city’s biodiversity in their backyards, local parks, sidewalk gardens, and walks to school or work. Maybe it won’t save the world, but maybe it will. After listening to Rebecca (engaging, upbeat, matter-of-fact, and queen of the nudibranchs), it was hard not to feel better about our chances.


  • Election Forum

    Monday, September 28, 2015

    We heard from some of the candidates for office (District Attorney, Community College Board) and from proponents and opponents of four ballot measures: Propositions C, D, F, and I.


  • State Senator Mark Leno; sheriff candidates’ debate

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    This meeting took place at at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park.  State Senator Mark Leno spoke about three bills he has co-authored in the Legislature and answered questions.  Sheriff candidates Ross Mirkarimi (the incumbent) and Vicki Hennessy appeared jointly to make their pitches and answer questions.

    Ross Mirkarimi
    Ross Mirkarimi
    Vicki Hennessy
    Vicki Hennessy


  • A Forum on the Kirkham Project; Supervisor Mark Farrell

    Monday, August 31, 2015

    The owners of Kirkham Heights apartments (at 5th Avenue and Kirkham Street) have proposed a redesign and expansion that would replace the current 86 units with up to 460 units within the same 4.3 built-upon acres of the 6.35 acre site. We heard from speakers with a variety of views, including the developer, city planners, proponents of the project, and critics of it. After the forum on Kirkham Heights, we heard from Supervisor Mark Farrell about his proposal to set aside a part of the city budget for funding parks and about his privately funded program to open public school schoolyards on weekends. He also answered questions.


  • A Cooking Show at SHARP, with Jeanne Snyder

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    One problem with cooking shows on TV is that you don’t get to actually eat anything. Problem solved. Jeanne Snyder (  introduced us to plant-based cuisine with a talk, demo, and free samples for all. Forget show and tell. This was show, tell, and eat. A chef formally trained in plant-based cuisine, Jeanne teaches classes on plant-based cooking and on how to introduce more plant-based ingredients into one’s diet. She is also a lawyer, so she talks a good game, but how many lawyers let you taste their evidence?


  • Professor Robert Cherny on the 1906 Earthquake and Fire

    Monday, June 29, 2015

    Seen any good disaster movies lately? This story is better, and as Henry Kissinger liked to say, it has the added benefit of being true. In three days, the earthquake and ensuing fires killed thousands, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and almost destroyed San Francisco. It is a story of heroism, decency, bad luck, dumb luck, ingenuity, incompetence, corruption, greed, racism, brutality, and political recrimination, for starters. One hundred years later, what have we learned (and not learned)? Bob Cherny, an authority on turn-of-the-century San Francisco, was our guide. A professor emeritus at SF State and the author of numerous books and articles on the period, Bob gave a superbly organized lecture and slide show to tell the tale and explain its significance. It was entertaining, but it wasn’t Hollywood.  Afterward, we actually knew something useful.


  • Zahra Billoo: Muslim, feminist, advocate, organizer

    Monday, May 18, 2015

    Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), and a leading voice for the civil rights of American Muslims.  As calmly articulate as she is passionate in her beliefs, Zahra  spoke about Islam, her practice of it, bigotry against Muslims (so-called Islamophobia), and her work at CAIR, which  includes political advocacy on behalf of American Muslims, legal representation of Muslims with anti-discrimination claims, and outreach to people of other religions and no religion at all.


  • “Blue Courage” Policing; District Crime Report, Mini-Concert by the Musical Chairs

    Monday, April 27, 2015

    Lt. Jack Hart of the SFPD defies the stereotype of a police officer. He is intellectually curious, reflective, a good listener, and not shy about criticizing police officers, including himself. These are not characteristics one normally associates with cops. Hart has a mission to help get policing right. He trains police officers in “Blue Courage,” a reform-minded program that seeks to instill (or rekindle) a commitment in cops to service, fairness, and accountability. In an impassioned, frank, and moving talk at SHARP, Hart gave us a taste of Blue Courage philosophy and training.



  • Hadar Aviram: Observations on the Criminal Justice System

    Monday, March 30, 2015

    Hastings law professor Hadar Aviram discussed her new book, Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment. The book explains how we have become more interested in cutting costs than in maintaining “tough on crime” policies of the past.


  • Concert: Jonathan Chu, violin

    Sunday, March 8, 2015

    Jonathan Chu, accompanied by Jaymes Kirksey on the piano, entranced a full house of folks from 8 to 80 in SHARP’s second free concert.



  • The Civil Grand Jury Reports

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Civil Grand Juror and SHARP vice-president Charles Head convened two fellow members of the 2013-14 San Francisco Civil Grand Jury, Mike Egge and Maryta Piazaa, to summarize the findings from the grand jury’s six reports, including “Ethics in the City: Promise, Practice or Pretense.”


  • Inside the SF School Board: Lee Hsu Interviews School Board Members Emily Murase and Rachel Norton

    Monday, February 9, 2015

    The time to learn about the School Board is when people aren’t running for it.  School Board members Emily Murase and Rachel Norton answered questions on a wide variety of issues from interviewer Lee Hsu and then from the audience, remaining  a half-hour after the meeting for followup conversation.  No one left early, and most stayed late.  It was an informative, engaging evening.  Audience members were asked to evaluate the program with two 1-10 ratings: (1) how much did you learn of value, and (b) the overall quality of the program. The average scores were: learning of value 8.0, overall quality 8.7.

    Left to right: Lee Hsu, Emily Murase, Rachel Norton.  Click on picture to enlarge.
    Left to right: Lee Hsu, Emily Murase, Rachel Norton.


  • The History of Golden Gate Park

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    So what were you doing when you were 21? Probably nothing like designing what may be the greatest architectural wonder in one of the world’s most wondrous cities: Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. With little experience, limited resources, and against the advice of no less an authority than Frederick Law Olmsted, who said it simply couldn’t be done, 20-something William Hammond Hall began the transformation of 1,000 acres of sand dunes into the world renown pastoral garden and woodland that is our front yard.

    Hall’s nearly miraculous achievement was only the start of the park’s rich and turbulent history. Ernie Ng, a City Guide for more than 30 years, led our historical tour of the park.