By Caroline Henry
Sixty-five countries and one hundred cities worldwide in one building is where artists, philosophers and innovative thinkers shared ideas and knowledge with the public in order to inspire for a prosperous future.
On February 2, from 7:00pm to 2:00am (yes, in the morning), the San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the French Consulate hosted the “Night of Ideas” (La Nuit des Idées), a free event to the public. This year’s theme focused on how to build a better future for San Francisco.
At 7:30pm the event temporarily closed due to full capacity, but luckily the doors reopened at 8:00pm. This had been the first time I walked in to the San Francisco Library and I was blown away, by the library’s grand entrance and extensive array of books! To get to the main atrium, I took the elevator to the third floor to the International/Chinese section. I saw people dancing, talking, enjoying beverages by and listening down below to the main floor where there was a speaker. There were a few interactive activities throughout the library and one of them was sponsored by the Exploratorium. The objective was to get the guests to pick out a random card with a funny joke/pun and to read it to someone and interact with others in the room. “What did one candle say to the other candle? Will you go out with me?”
Other amenities activities included donuts and snacks, organic local coffee, VR meditation glasses, Yoga, small art exhibits, and dancers hanging from the ceiling. It was hard not to be occupied with something other than sitting down to read a book or listening to presentations.
On every floor there were rooms reserved for different speakers and presentations by the hour. The first opening presentation of the night was presented by Neal Benezra, Director of SFMOMA, followed by Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, Consul General of France in San Francisco, Dr. Mary Wardell Ghirarduzzi, SF Library Commission President, and Holly Kernan, KQED Chief of Content with Mina Kim from KQED. I attended a few different presentations, popping in and out of the rooms to listen to different speakers.
One presentation was in the Children’s book section which was called “Equitable City: with Institute for the Future”. It was packed with many people and most of us sat on the ground or stood behind the tall book shelves. I was stuck behind the bookshelves and couldn’t exactly see much, so I listened. The speakers included Deborah Cullinan, Chief Executive Officer of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, John Law from Burning Man and several art enthusiasts. I particularly enjoyed listening to Ms. Cullinan when she described her position and purpose at YBCA. Her main role is integrating and revolutionizing the influence of art to the public and into their everyday lives. She believes that everything we build starts with creativity and artistic ability which makes something beautiful and impactful for the public.
Next, a presentation was hosted by Sam Hartnett on a KQED panel interviewing speakers of different career backgrounds. The panelists included Aurélie Drouet, Samaschool representative; Robin Rivaton, Real Estech representative; Richard A. Walker, Economics Professor at UC Berkeley, and Scientist, Zarinah Agnew, The Embassy. Each panelist answered questions to gain perspective in finding possible solutions to create a utopian vision toward equitable work and income for people in the Bay Area.
This was definitely a night worth staying up for to listen to people who walked different parts of life and shared their ideas with others. Walking around the library listening to the passionate speakers, observing the interesting exhibits and activities all sparked curiosity and new ideas for all in attendance. It was an Inspiring and encouraging night to remember.