An alternative history and geography of the Bay Area that highlights sites of oppression, resistance, and transformation.
A People’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area looks beyond the mythologized image of San Francisco to the places where collective struggle has built the region. Countering romanticized commercial narratives about the Bay Area, geographers Rachel Brahinsky and Alexander Tarr highlight the cultural and economic landscape of indigenous resistance to colonial rule, radical interracial and cross-class organizing against housing discrimination and police violence, young people demanding economically and ecologically sustainable futures, and the often-unrecognized labor of farmworkers and everyday people.
The book asks who had—and who has—the power to shape the geography of one of the most watched regions in the world. As Silicon Valley's wealth dramatically transforms the look and feel of every corner of the region, like bankers' wealth did in the past, what do we need to remember about the people and places that have made the Bay Area, with its rich political legacies?
With over 100 sites that you can visit and learn from, this book demonstrates critical ways of reading the landscape itself for clues to these histories. A useful companion for travelers, educators, or longtime residents, this guide links multicultural streets and lush hills to suburban cul-de-sacs and wetlands, stretching from the North Bay to the South Bay, from the East Bay to San Francisco. Original maps help guide readers, and thematic tours offer starting points for creating your own routes through the region.
About the Author
Rachel Brahinsky is Associate Professor at the University of San Francisco, affiliated with Urban and Public Affairs, Politics, and Urban Studies. Her research is focused on race, property, and urban change.
Alexander Tarr is Assistant Professor of Geography at Worcester State University. His research, writing, and cartography examine the development of cities, food politics, and digital culture.
"Lavishly produced, with beautiful images and crystal clear prose, A People’s Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area is for readers and activists who have taken part in protests and demonstrations for decades, and from Berkeley and Oakland to San Francisco, Sonoma and beyond. It’s probably worth saying that while Brahinsky and Tarr deserve major credit for this book, they had tremendous help from fellow authors, photographers, designers, colleagues in academia and from librarians and researchers. It takes a collective to bake bread, scones and pizza at Arizmendi. It also takes a collective to write and publish a book of this magnitude, beauty and truth."
"If you’ve been staring into the soul-sucking abyss of cable news or doomscrolling through the implosion of American democracy, delving into the stories of anti-eviction battles, Ohlone resistance, strikes, and resilient celebration featured in A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area will provide a welcome glimmer of hope. Not naive optimism, but the kind of tempered determination that comes when you remember how bad things have been before–and how people successfully fought to keep them from getting worse."
— East Bay Yesterday