Thinkwalks Explorations

Most important question: Do you want an indoor event or a field trip? If you want a field trip, choose between concentrated history with less walking in an urban area (these are wheelchair accessible events and reveal some very surprising history, with my original research) or more walking in a more wooded area of the city with more natural exploration and less urban noise (these are more relaxed, longer, not accessible and reveal some very hidden places).

For an indoor event such as a presentation, please see Group Events below!

Three ways to have a Thinkwalk:
Join a public walk (or bike ride) that fits your schedule.
Request one. I’ll put it on the public calendar.
Arrange an event (Presentation or exploration Thinkwalk) for your own group.

Prices and payment are far down this page.


Join a scheduled walk (or ride)

Please RSVP unless the event description (at the last hour) says “no RSVP needed.”
If you have already RSVPed for yourself, it’s okay to bring additional people, if the description opens enrollment (to “no RSVP needed”).

Cost: You decide what to pay after you’ve enjoyed the tour. $20 to 30 is the suggested range. This is my income and support for all my projects, as I have no institutional paycheck.

View the full calendar by week, month or in a list.

Getting ready for your Thinkwalk

When you register, you will not receive a confirmation immediately, but will long before the event. I use old-fashioned personal emails to confirm, not an automated system.

Walks start on time. Please call (not text or email) if you’ll be running late.
Most of the year, SF weather is cold and windy.

The event is still on, even in wet weather, unless we arranged otherwise.
Thinkwalks have lots of stops for discussion, so dress warmly, especially on windy days. I warned you!
Snacks provided on events over two hours.
If it’s a bike ride, please test and adjust your bike beforehand.
Bring some  cash—the easiest way to pay (though others are acceptable).

Request a public Thinkwalk

This option is for field trips only (Thinkwalks). If you have a date that is ideal for you and I have no Thinkwalks on my public calendar, please contact me (by phone if short notice). I can place a public event that interests you on my calendar and invite the general public to join. Short notice makes it harder, and less-than-3-days notice definitely requires a phone call not an email. Call me, Joel, at 415-505-8255.

Group Events

All Thinkwalks events are time-flexible from 90 minutes to 4 hours, but 2 to 3 hours will generally allow the best field trip.

For indoor events, I can do a full presentation and Q&A, or a very short presentation and lead a discussion (or just Q&A). We’ll decide together. Sometimes indoor events are followed by a field trip another day (or same day).

The ideal group size for best discussion is:
• For groups that know each other pretty well or are deeply curious: 3 to 15 people
• For groups that don’t know each other well or are shy, quiet or stratified (e.g. with authority figures as chaperones): 8 to 12 people.

Larger groups take 30% longer to move from place to place, so we will adjust your itinerary accordingly.


Please pay however you like. All payment suggested amounts assume you will do your best to fit your budget toward the higher end if you can. I get no institutional paycheck and depend on this work for my only income. I may sell my publications or have a donation bucket at the event, with consultation (some events it’s not appropriate).

Group Thinkwalks event planner

Public school group Contact to arrange, discuss curriculum $0 to $150, pay what you want
Private school or home schooling group (up to 20 people) Contact to arrange, discuss curriculum $300 to $350, pay what you want
Activist or neighborhood group Contact to arrange, discuss purpose $0 to $160 (indoors); $120 to $400 (field trips), pay what you want
Public agency or established organizational group Contact to arrange, at least a week in advance $0 to $200 (indoors); $200 to $400 (field trips), pay what you want
Other group up to 4 people Contact to arrange; Consider requesting a public Thinkwalk instead, if 15+ days in advance $200 to $600 depending on time length, custom planning, meal options
Other group up to 8 people Contact to arrange, including possibly open to the public $250 to $300 or by arrangement (or $20 to $30 per person if opened to the public with a 5-person guaranteed minimum)
Other group 9 to 20 people Contact to arrange $350 or by arrangement
Other group more than 20 people Contact to arrange $20 to $30 per person, pay what you want with a 10-person guaranteed minimum

Note: If your group is small (fewer than 9 people), you may also use the “request a Thinkwalk” option above and welcome members of the public to join your group. That changes the suggested pay amounts, which may fit your budget better (though everything at Thinkwalks is flexible, so give a shout and we can discuss your needs).

To arrange, call 415-505-8255 or email me or use the reply box at the bottom of this page to specify:

  1. Approx. number of people and purpose
  2. Walk, bike ride, Muni, motoring or indoors
  3. Theme or topic requests, ideas (see list below)
  4. Preferred location, dates & times

Walks or bike rides are always better than motorized unless great distances need to be covered. Public transit is a great option for some Thinkwalks events. Vehicle adventures only if you provide the vehicle or request I rent a car and you have up to 4 people.
Additional fees may apply for over two hours and for special arrangements.

Topic planner:

  • Specific locations—ask me if you have one in mind, especially concerning shoreline or freshwater history.
  • Citywide history of streams & groundwater, today’s water visible in the landscape, watersheds
  • The creation of San Francisco, early Ohlone lifestyes and ecology, how this place came to be
  • Social Justice Murals & Street Art History (phasing this one out, as I have not been in the mural scene for some time now)
  • What do democracy & civil rights have to do with recent SF transportation and land use history?
  • Golden Gate Park exploration and history including stories startling even to longtime locals.
  • Climate history (and future) of the west, the little-known extreme weather of 1861 & ’62

A note on sliding scales and pay-what-you-want finances:

Ideally, we would follow the tour with a group discussion about priorities in life, financial resources, generosity, and so on, the way Movement for a New Society used to determine pricing for their workshops, way back in the idealism age. But that approach takes a lot of patience—and patience doesn’t grow on trees (although there are impatiens trees all over SF).

5 Comments to “Tours”

  1. […] the recommendation of Haighteration blog, I took the ThinkWalks walking tour of the Wiggle on Thursday […]

  2. Miriam Slipowitz says:

    Hi Joel,

    I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this web site. I remember with fondness taking a tour with you (Joe was there also) quite a few years ago. Keep up the good work!

  3. daisy says:

    hi! great site! would you export your calendar as iCal so people can add it to their calendar apps (google, yahoo, etc)? this would probably boost attendance, too! 🙂

  4. Jeff says:

    Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 2:00 p.m.

    I could show you an old Pony Express stable (1860’s) watering trough cut into the living rock. The stable foundation is still there and it’s still freshwater springhead on 28th street in Noe Valley. That’s why they built a stable there.

  5. […] thinkwalks AKA joel pomerantz, is offering a walk on the watersheds of laguna honda on sunday, 13 march. if you’re curious about SF water history, how the landscape of SF has changed, or want to traverse some topography west of twin peaks, you can’t go wrong with a thinkwalks tour! start at garden for the environment, 7th ave. (at lawton), 1 PM, $10 – $40 suggested donation. […]

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