Read about the exciting CW: Bay Chronicles sailing & art expedition and public events. Get primed for our crowdfunding campaign for CW: Golden Gate storytelling theater production. 
Meet our community: boat-builder Inka Peterson and CWBC expedition photographer Gordon Szeto.

Join us in bringing forgotten stories to light. Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to continue our innovations in community-based heritage stewardship.

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Epoch Times (Chinese)
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about the early Chinese settlers in your community, and members of other cultures that interacted with them.


Join the CW team as the proud owner of our designer CWBC T-shirt! CWBC logo on the front with a special illustration of the Grace Quan, our custom Bay Shrimp icon on the sleeve, & the CWBC family of partners & supporters on the back. $25 + shipping/handling. To order, contact us at


Donate $50 and get a special package with 8 cookies (random selection) from the collectible first edition of 15 Chinese Whispers Story CookiesTM ! Each cookie's "fortune" features a quote from a Chinese WhispersSM story.

Chinese WhispersSM is dedicated to bringing to light the overlooked history and experiences of the Chinese who helped build the American West. We do this through multi-platform research and cultural projects including place-based multimedia storytelling productions, art installations, and innovative public
engagement programming. Visit for more information.

Chinese WhispersSM is supported in part by the Creative Work FundSan Francisco Arts Commission, Cal Humanities, Center for Cultural Innovation, The San Francisco Foundation, sponsors, and individual donors like you.

CW Partners
include the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Center for Sierra Nevada Studies, Chinatown YMCA, Chinese Historical Society of America, 
San Francisco Estuary Institute, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Friends of China Camp, Richmond Museum of History, Aquarium of the Bay, EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park, KALW Local Public Radio, Shaping SF, Placer Arts Council, OpenShow, with special thanks to Malcom Margolin and Heyday. Chinese WhispersSM is a member of the Intersection Incubator, a program of Intersection for the Arts providing fiscal sponsorship, incubation and consulting services to artists. 

Join Us
in bringing forgotten stories to light. Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to continue our innovations in community-based heritage stewardship.
ADDITIONAL SPONSORS Mechanics Bank, Heyday Books, Marin Chinese Cultural Association Lion Dancers, Rainbow Grocery Co-op, The Little Giants Lighting & Grip Co., Sports Basement, Starbucks, Safeway, Costco, & Panera Bread
Nurturing Community, Amplifying Voice —
Chinese Whispers: Golden Gate

One thing for sure – we don’t sit around here at CW! We’re gearing up for our crowdfunding campaign for Chinese Whispers: Golden GateSM, our flagship storytelling production about the Bay Area. This theater production will combine historical stories with contemporary immigrant stories from our workshops with the Chinatown Y, to connect past and present. The production will include a custom soundscape and projections, and incorporate new stories from our research into Chinese shrimping. More soon – stay tuned!

Reviving A Forgotten 100-Year Legacy — Chinese Whispers: Bay Chronicles

We want to make sure that the forgotten history of Chinese shrimp fishing around San Francisco Bay doesn’t stay forgotten, so we created Chinese Whispers: Bay ChroniclesSM. Over two fine weeks in September, our interdisciplinary team of artists and environmental scientists set sail on the 43-foot, replica 19th century SF Bay junk Grace Quan to retrace this history around the Bay.

Our route took us to former shrimping sites from China Camp in the North Bay to Richmond in the East Bay, then to Redwood City in the South Bay, and back up to Bayview Hunters Point in SF, completing the loop at China Camp. Along the way, we also brought this history to local communities in three unique public events in Richmond, Bayview, and China Camp.

Words can’t do justice to the richness and complexity of the experience: it was amazing, moving, humbling, exciting, challenging, and truly inspiring. In this edition of the newsletter we'll share a couple of the many highlights, watch for the next episodes! We especially want to thank our collaborator, the SF Maritime National Historical Park, for the sails on the Park's Grace Quan, and skipper John C. Muir and the Park's staff and volunteer crew.

Bringing A Vision Into Reality
We are very excited about Chinese Whispers: Bay Chronicles as a transdisciplinary work that connects art, humanities, science, and civic engagement to bridge communities and place, and bring history to life in a fresh, meaningful way that people can experience. It is inspiring to be at the hub as CW Director Rene Yung's vision unfolds after months of planning and research, and hours of teamwork. The project will culminate in a multimedia art installation at the Park next Fall.

Videographer Chihiro Wimbush captured the voyage and actions on board, including with GoPro cameras; sound artist Jeremiah Moore had mics attached to every kind of surface of the junk, and monitored sonic nuances in wind and sail; photographer Gordon Szeto recorded the expedition sights and escapades; and CW designer and all-around wiz Dorothy Mak provided tech support.

Poring over historical maps of the areas that we were sailing through, Project Director Rene Yung and San Francisco Estuary Institute scientists examined parallels between changes in the cultural and ecological landscapes, and their intersection with Chinese shrimp fishing history. The skillful sail crew taught us about reading the waves and how the tides controlled the expedition, and we all fell in love with the beautiful junk as she carried us on our journey.

Expedition Highlights
At the height of Chinese shrimp fishing in the late 1890's, 26 shrimp camps ringed SF Bay. We are particularly thrilled to "rediscover" some of the lesser-known sites in the South Bay, which have been all but erased from public memory. With the help of historical maps, photos, and texts, we began to locate these vanished camps on today’s landscape. It was both exhilarating and poignant.

Frank Quan,the 89 year-old, lone resident of China Camp Village and bearer of shrimp fishing lore, joined us on some of the sails. It was a rare privilege to listen to Frank talk about former shrimping grounds in the Bay as we sailed over open expanses of blue-green water seemingly unmarked by time, and we pondered what had changed, and what might have remained the same. 

The expedition was a journey through time marked by often-jarring contrasts, as well as lyrical glimpses into remnants of Bay edgelands that suggest the former environments of the Chinese fishery.

Land-side Programs
Since we couldn’t bring the public on the sails, we brought the expedition to the public in three site-specifid programs. Each location was important in the history of Chinese shrimp fishing, and also reflects the Bay Area's diverse communities today.

A stimulating panel of speakers helped us kick off the events at the beautiful Craneway Pavilion, a soaring 1931 structure that once housed the Ford auto assembly plant in Richmond, which was home to a number of early shrimp camps. We had a heart-warming community gathering at EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, with moving community stories about the historical diversity of the neighborhood, and everyone was happily fortified by a delicious lunch from Radio Africa & Kitchen. The largest group of Bay Chinese shrimp camps, including the last shrimping company, was in Hunters Point.

We celebrated the conclusion of the sails at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, which has vestiges of the only remaining historical Chinese shrimp camp. Talented young lion dancers from Marin Community Cultural Association delighted visitors with a lively performance and greeted the voyagers at the dock. After all the excitement of the previous week, we wrapped up the afternoon with a reflective Walk of Remembrance to commemorate the people and places of this history which had slipped into the recesses of time. 

Our Village, Our Gratitude
We are grateful to the Creative Work Fund for enabling us to begin resuscitating this history of Chinese shrimp fishing around the Bay. A HUGE thank you to all our partners, sponsors, supporters, and volunteers, for being part of the village that came together to make the sails and public programs possible. And our warmest thanks to everyone who came to the public events.

Stay tuned for the next phase of CW Bay Chronicles as we continue to bring this forgotten chapter of Bay Area history back into view.

Wishing you a Fall season full of gracious bounty!

—The Chinese Whispers Team

Photo Credit: Ethan Bien, Jeff K. Lee, Gordon Szeto, Alan Nguyen, Rene Yung

Meet the CW Community  

Meet our growing community here! The CW Community is made up of all kinds of people spanning generations -- professionals, scholars, retirees, students, "regular folks" who joined us to bring forgotten stories to light.

Inka Petersen is a recent immigrant from Germany who is making a living as a traditional wooden boatbuilder in Sausalito, CA. One of the wonderful volunteer crew on several CWBC sails, Inka says this about her experience:

"What struck me most reiterates my thoughts about what makes a place; how the Bay has changed because of various influences, human and other, and how humans come and go. From animals to Native Americans, to Chinese immigrants, to other immigrants, to multi-billion dollar corporations, everyone has shaped part of the Bay: oyster shell beaches, shell mounds, old camp pilings, fruit trees, big corporate campuses... We were following one thread of many that together weave the fabric of this place."

Gordon Szeto is a Bay Area native who has always had his hands in different facets of the photo world. Gordon reflects on his experience as the CW: Bay Chronicles expedition photographer:

"I really didn't know much about the Chinese shrimping camps in the Bay Area. Everything I knew was on such a superficial level so what I learned from being part of the project was a lot! CW: Bay Chronicles has me thinking about these groups of Chinese shrimpers and what they had to endure. Among so many things, they had to learn about the currents and water ways of the Bay, and living in a hostile world where they had to deal with racism and the politics around that.

Our sincerest thanks to all of the community members who are helping to bring history to life.

Copyright © 2014 Rene Yung, All rights reserved.
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