SmartPhone apps

Enough FAQs. What about facts?

General FAQ

Q1: What if I’m not a ‘nerd’? TOP

A: Ah, but maybe you are a nerd! If you sometimes wonder “What the heck is under this sidewalk?” and you take a glance when a crew is digging, then you should come—even if you’re not a self-proclaimed nerd. If you’re thinking “Why would anyone care about that?” then don’t come unless you’re ready for a change. There’s been an increase in nerdification in San Francisco. You could be next!

Q2: What if I’m not a San Franciscan? TOP

A: Since you’re curious enough to look at the FAQs, you may come. On some of the walk Joel mixes in references to nearby locations and other common local knowledge (specifically on the walks called Wiggle Walk, Mission: Water Walking, Divsadero Natural History, Hot Air & Cool Water Walk).

Q3: Is Thinkwalks just Joel Pomerantz? TOP

A: Thinkwalks is a project begun by Joel and joined by a handful of others [link to collaborators]. The project is not directly affiliated with any institutions but has collaborated with or provided Thinkwalks for almost every museum and university in San Francisco. [link to lower part of collaborator page].

Q4: How can I volunteer for Thinkwalks projects? TOP

A: Just contact Joel. Check current specifics here. [link to collaborators]. We train our researchers. You’ll meet amazing people.

Q5: What the heck are Joel’s credentials, anyway? TOP

A: He won first place in the Masters Level of the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, back in 2001, when there weren’t so many teams competing. He won first place in the 2009 West Marin Guac Off! Guacamole contest, if you ignore the two lumpy green dips awarded the official first and second prizes—they were (made by) the event organizers! He whacked National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski with a large, heavy object—it was, um, a door, while entering a bathroom in the Whitehouse. Impeccable credentials. Not the kind of credentials you meant? Try here. [link to jp.com]

Q6: What’s the connection between Thinkwalks and ShapingSF? TOP

A: We’re similar and friends. Joel has worked for years with Chris Carlsson and LisaRuth Elliott of Shaping San Francisco. Both projects are about empowering you to connect with other people and with the place where you live through historical exploration. We both try to create a people’s culture that’s more effective in shaping our collective future. We did a multimedia people’s history and compilation (ShapingSF) that’s now called FoundSF.


Q7: Can I bring my dog? TOP

A: You know your dog best. If your dog is polite and unobtrusive in a crowd, and can calmly handle sudden events, feel free to bring yours on a leash. Kindly let us know since we want to keep the dog population to two, maximum. No dogs on Adventure field trips or Magnolia Valentine events, please.

Q8: Are Thinkwalks good for children? TOP

A: You know your kids best. Most Thinkwalkers are adults, unless it’s a group event designed for kids. Strollers are welcome in general, though on Hikes they may be impossible to take along.

Q9: How difficult are the walks? TOP

A: Some walks are flat, some hilly. Inquire if you have concerns. If you don’t like standing in one place for a stretch of discussion time, please mention it at the start of a Thinkwalk and we’ll pick stopping places where you can sit.

Q10: The weather’s looking bad. Is it still on? TOP

A: Probably. We never cancel if there’s just general bad weather predicted for the day, only if the hour of the tour is looking especially bad. Since it’s last minute, please call (415-505-8255); don’t email. Reminder: Even locals forget that standing in the wind for hours requires special layering. If it’s cold or windy, bring a hat, scarf or warmer layers. We use these weather indicators to see whether a tour should be canceled.

Q11: What if I want to join a Thinkwalks ride but have no bike? TOP

A: There are rentals in convenient locations all over San Francisco, like Stanyan Street.

Q12: How much will a private or custom Thinkwalk cost? TOP

A: For educational groups, anywhere from $120 to $300. For other groups, $150 to $400,  depending on length, amount of preparation needed and so on. Prices are outlined here.

Q13: How can I get a custom walk without paying group price? TOP

A: If you arrange with Joel for a walk that fits your specific desires, ask that it be made open to the public. If five or more people sign up, then the walk will be held and each person must only “pay what you want” as with most Thinkwalks.

Q14: Do you ever require advance payment? TOP

A: Occasionally we have special events that require advance payment, such as our Magnolia Valentine Walk. If you join a walk through a reservation service, you will have to pay in advance. Most Thinkwalks are “pay what you want,” and you’ll be asked to pay at the end.


Q15: What is the connection between the 1862 storm research and Thinkwalks? TOP

A: The research is a project within Thinkwalks. It may grow to become its own separate project.

Talks & Slide Shows

Q16: How much is Joel’s speaker fee? TOP

A: There is no set fee. Most groups will be offered a presentation for free. If the distance is great to get there form SF, please offer something.

Q17: Can Joel speak to my class? TOP

A: Yes. Happily. For certain classes no payment is required. Contact us to work out the topic and timing.

SmartPhone apps

Q18: Is there still a Thinkwalks iPhone app? TOP

A: Yes, but they’re unsupported at the moment. We’re working on a long term solution for that. Unsupported means there’s no mechanism for updating entries that are inaccurate or no longer apply. Everything Explained is the Thinkwalks app for visitors, newcomers and locals that highlights 72 locations in SF with explanations of how things you take for granted came to be the way they are. After you’ve adored that one, graduate to Local Nerd, the Thinkwalks app for, well, you know, local nerds. It has 74 out-of-the-way places and nerdy resources examined in detail. Both apps have photos and are map-based.

Enough FAQs. What about facts?

Q19: I found what I think is a missing piece or an error in your research. How should I proceed? TOP

A: Contact Joel, please! Be prepared for excitement (if Joel’s been researching that topic).

Q20: Did Joel coin the term “the Wiggle” for the bike route through SF’s Lower Haight area? TOP

A: Nobody’s sure. Joel, the founder of Thinkwalks, wrote the article originally popularizing the term. We’ve tried to track down which of us in the early bike activist circles coined it, but we can’t figure it out.