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Interviews with Activists - San Francisco 1999

In 1999, I interviewed a several activists in San Francisco with a view to understanding what drove them to their political involvement and what lessons they could pass on to the rest of us - especially those who ask "What can I do?"

  • Dennis and Gwenn met in the Castro back in the mid seventies when a gay cultural revolution was blossoming, about a mile from where I grew up. He grew up in Southern California, she in a black middle class family in Atlanta, Georgia. Dennis migrated to San Francisco in pursuit of Jefferson Airplane’s “white rabbit” (sex and drugs and rock and roll) and Gwenn came looking for the “counter culture.” Both are gay. Their shared experience spanned nude beaches and campaigning out of Harvey Milk’s camera store (made more famous recently following the 2008 release of the movie Milk). During the interview both spoke often and with nostalgia of their friend Bill Krauss, who died of AIDS in the mid-eighties. “He embodied the idea of you want to change the system and you wanna have fun too,” Dennis said...

  • Alberto Saldamando Part I of an interview with a man who was born in Mexico and grew up to become a tireless (though often burned out) lawyer, activist, NGO director and advocate for indigenous rights internationally. Alberto offered great insights that I've frequently reflected on over the last decade such as, "Most activism is generational, and all you can do is participate, and hope that other people will take up the cause—because the kinds of changes, the kind of world, that the activists that I know want, are probably not going to be accomplished in our lifetime..."

  • Isao Fujimoto is a Japanese American who grew up on the Yakima Indian reservation in Washington, in Japenese concentration camps, and finally in California where he later settled in the town of Davis. Isao is a community builder and person builder. He speaks of everything from the ancient wisdom of his parents to the examples of generosity that spawned his own acts of giving his time and attention to so many people over the years. "People really have to contribute, to work, to be able to call things the way they are. Rather than just say criticize or let things alone, you really have to respond..."

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