Though the Bay Area's Chinese and Japanese inhabitants seem to have the most street cred, they're not the only immigrants who streamed across the Pacific in search of a better life. The late 19th and 20th centuries saw a steadily increasing flow of Asian residents, who had escaped trouble at home and hoped the United States would prove a land of opportunity.
Often the new arrivals found it tough going. Korean immigration to the U.S. began in earnest in 1903, when 102 Koreans came to Hawaii to labor in the sugar cane fields. Harvesting was agonizing work, but the laborers' success attracted more of their countrymen. Soon the Bay Area was a bustling gateway to and from Hawaii, with a growing Korean-American community of its own. It was here that the first Korean-American church and political association were founded, here that Korean-Americans launched the independence movement that would win their homeland freedom from Japan's dominion at the end of World War II, here that postwar immigrants flocked during the '50s and '60s.
The Oakland Museum pays tribute to a century of newcomers (as well as to the 60,000 Korean-Americans who currently live in the region) with "In Our Own Voice: The Making of a Korean Community," a collection of photos, artifacts, video documentaries, and visual artworks, plus a detailed time line of historical events. The exhibit opens with a reception at 7 p.m. (and runs through Nov. 28) at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak (at 10th Street). Admission is free-$8; call (510) 238-2200 or visit www.museumca.org. -- Joyce Slaton
The design community isn't known for compassion, generally speaking. Self-referential snobbery, yes, but concern for dwindling resources, no. Busting this stereotype completely is "Compostmodern," a sustainable design conference. The one-day gathering features speakers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Natural Step, and ReadyMademagazine, among other organizations with good hearts and slick graphics. The ridiculously accomplished Richard Nelson Swett (former U.S. congressman, ambassador to Denmark, author, architect) is scheduled to give the keynote address. He's especially strong on livable cities -- presumably beautiful ones -- so he should enjoy his visit. The conference begins at 8:15 a.m. at the California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., S.F. Admission is $60-80; call 626-6008 or visit www.aigasf.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Been a while since you read anything thicker than SF Weekly? Let your brain off its leash for a change at the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Book Sale. This tsunami of tomes and hurricane of hardcovers features thousands of thrillers, romances, classics, and even a John Grisham or 50 -- not to mention scores of textbooks and scholarly volumes. They all sell for a dollar or less, and proceeds benefit the library's edifying public programs. So put down the remote, get off the couch, and pick up a book, starting at 10 a.m. in Building A at Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free; call 437-4857 or visit www.friendssfpl.org. -- Jack Karp
Spider Beside Ya
Hairy tarantulas, giant eight-eyed Zoropsis spinimana, menacing black widows -- these arachnids make their homes in the Bay Area. And in order to survive, all have evolved astonishing methods that help them catch prey and keep warm, dry, and protected from predators. Hear more about these eight-legged wonders when the California Academy of Sciences' resident arachnologist, Charles Griswold, continues the institution's San Francisco Natural History Lecture Series with his locally oriented talk, "Spider Secrets of the San Francisco Bay Region." The critters creep and crawl at 7:30 p.m. at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), S.F. Admission is free; call 554-9600 or go to www.randallmuseum.org. -- Joyce Slaton