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Joel Pomerantz → writer bio


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Joel Pomerantz is a writer and natural history educator recognized for his work in waterway research, local journalism, public art and community service.

Much of Joel's writing is community-based nonfiction relating to San Francisco, his home and place of residence.

Through his award-winning project called Thinkwalks, Joel offers a wide variety of in-person and virtual explorations of how San Francisco came to be what it is today.

To inform his presentations, or maybe just to satisfy his curiosity, Joel researches historic natural features and their effects on local history. His efforts put today's chaos into the context of economic, cultural and natural history.

It only takes a couple decades in San Francisco to be more of an old timer than the majority in the fast-changing population of this tech boom-town. As one cell in the institutional memory bank of his city, Joel has been sharing his enthusiasm and discoveries with dozens of groups such as WalkSF, the employees of Twitter, the Wigg Party and for the guides who provide City Guides walks. He often works in collaboration with educational institutions such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Randall Museum, The Exploratorium and a dozen schools and universities.

His latest publishing releases include a collection of 132 geography explorations, deeply researched and written in a subversive personal style, available (since 2012) as a pair of smart phone apps called Everything Explained and Local Nerd!.

Joel's current research obsession is the unprecedented storm sequence of 1861–62 that inundated the entire west coast continuously for months. His discovery of a large lake that existed near the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park is one of the results of this sleuthing.

In addition, Joel has written occasional fiction, including an illustrated book called Twice Just to be Sure (released 2011). Joel composed music to accompany this heart-warming and thinky 48-page tale. Authorship on his fiction works is under the pen name Uncle Pea—as a sort of "band" name, in this case working with illustrator Lance Jackson and designer Amy Conger.

Spanning a varied career, Joel's purpose has always been to cultivate informed democracy and public access, and to build non-profit and non-fear-based community decisions.

As co-founder of various bicycle organizations and events, Joel played a major role in planting seeds for the culture of bicycling that has seen a worldwide resurgence since the 1990s. He was a pioneer in creating access to new publishing technology when the use of personal computers was first gaining ground. He was involved in formative stages of the organic foods movement. He organized many of the public art murals in San Francisco, including the acclaimed Duboce Bikeway Mural and recruited renowned artist Mona Caron into the world of muraling. (Joel also offers social justice art history tours as part of Thinkwalks.)

He designed and developed, as founding editor, The Tube Times (San Francisco Bicycle Coalition). Joel reëstablished The Antioch Record after its collapse and was editor of The Haight Ashbury Voice and various other community print media. He designed and produced major resource manuals and outreach systems for the Smithsonian Institution, Antioch College, Media Alliance, the San Francisco Folk Music Club (a project for which he was honored by fan mail from Pete Seeger) and for many other grassroots efforts and small businesses.