Image - photo of speaker surrounded by plants

San Francisco

Greg King: Racists, Radicals and Real Estate in the California Redwoods

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Every year millions of tourists from around the world come to California to see our famous redwoods. Yet few understand how unlikely it is that these last groves of giant trees still stand at all. Activist Greg King examines how investors and a growing U.S. economy drove the timber industry to cut down the giant redwoods on all but four percent of the original 2-million-acre redwood ecosystem. 

The land grab began in 1849, when a “green gold rush” of migrants came to exploit the legendary redwoods that grew along the Russian River. Several generations later, in 1987, Greg King discovered and named Headwaters Forest—at 3,000 acres the largest ancient redwood habitat remaining outside of parks—and then led the movement to save this grove. After a decade of one of the most dramatic and violent environmental campaigns in U.S. history, the state and federal governments finally protected Headwaters Forest in 1999. 

The Ghost Forest explores the mystery of what it was about this unique Northern California forest that was both so spectacular and yet so enticing as fuel for economic growth that it inspired a life-and-death struggle. Few but loggers and surveyors ever saw such magnificent trees, ancient sentinels that, like ghosts, have informed Greg King’s understanding of the world, and have inspired him to tell the story of their discovery and their exploitation, and to protect them against those determined to cut them down. 

MLF Organizer
Andrew Dudley

This program is in-person only. 

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

  • We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
  • We strongly recommend vaccination for guests, staff, and volunteers.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
  • We reserve the right to require different rules for specific events as necessary.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

Copies of The Ghost Forest are available for purchase during online registration (for domestic U.S. shipping only).

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our online programming.

A People & Nature Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Bernard Osher Foundation

Photo by Georgia King

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Wed, Jun 14 / 5:30 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Greg King

Greg King

Journalist; Activist to protect Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County; Author, The Ghost Forest: Racists, Radicals, and Real Estate in the California Redwoods

Image - Andrew Dudley

In Conversation with Andrew Dudley

CEO, @Earth; Chair, People & Nature Member-Led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California


5 p.m. doors open & check-in
5:30–6:30 p.m. program
(all times PST)


$10 members
$20 nonmembers
$42 members with a book
$52 nonmembers with a book
Free for students and Leadership Circle members (no book)