Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Wed 5/18

Image - Steve Phillips

Steve Phillips: Brown Is the New White

Date: Wed, May 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Steve Phillips, Civil Rights Attorney; Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; New York Times Best-selling Author, Brown Is the New White 
In conversation with Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly; State Representative, 89th House District

Part of the Club’s Good Lit Series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The U.S. population has fundamentally changed, says Steve Phillips, and a new American voting majority has been created by progressive people of color along with progressive white voters. Philips says these two groups make up 51 percent of all eligible voters in America, and that majority is growing larger every day. By failing to properly appreciate this reality, progressives are at risk of missing this moment in history—and losing. Phillips' new book is a searing indictment of the Democratic Party’s practice of courting white swing voters and a discussion of how America’s changed demographics have revolutionary implications for U.S. politics in 2016 and beyond.

A leader in national politics for 30 years, Steve Phillips has had a front-row seat to these extraordinary political changes. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Stanford University, where he was a leader in the anti-apartheid and multicultural education movements. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education at age 28, becoming the youngest elected official in the history of San Francisco, and serving on the board for eight years, including one year as its president. He is the founder and chairman of PowerPAC+, a social justice political network that was the first national group to back Senator Cory Booker and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. 

Thu 5/19

Image - Nancy Unger

The Unexpected Belle La Follette: Progressive Model for 2016

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Nancy C. Unger, Author, Belle La Follette

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

In her new book Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, Nancy C. Unger reveals some surprising truths about this radical reformer (1859-1931) denounced as “disgraceful to the white race.” La Follette fought for votes for women, peace, civil rights … and more. Come discover, through a richly illustrated presentation, the progressive activist hailed by The New York Times as "perhaps the least known, yet the most influential of all the American women who have had to do with public affairs in this country."

Image - Lawn
This event is Canceled

Is Your Car Killing Your Lawn?

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Noah Diffenbaugh, Associate Professor of Earth System Science, Stanford

Noah Diffenbaugh and other scientists have shed further light on why Californians should care about the weather up in the land of Santa Claus. A conversation on the connection between dirty fuels, white sea ice, brown lawns and what we can expect in the future now that we realize El Niño didn’t kill the drought.

Fri 5/20

Image - Peter Honigsberg

Guantanamo Project

Date: Fri, May 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Peter Honigsberg, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Honisberg, whose research and teaching at USF include international criminal law, terrorism and post-9/11 issues, will discuss his long-term project about Guantanamo, which features interviews with former detainees and others associated with the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Mon 5/23

Image - Celtic Myths and Legends

Humanities West Book Discussion: Celtic Myths and Legends

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis, an enchanting collection of the sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and heroes like Cuchulain, Fingal and King Arthur, including popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures: Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Midde East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, Afganistan and North Africa, has been meeting for about eight years. We do not debate; we exchange ideas and opinions. The discussion is considered a perk of membership, but those interested—especially students—are welcome.

Early registration is advisable.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Image - Duf Sundheim

Duf Sundheim, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate: Imagining a New Politics

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The race for the Senate

Duf Sundheim, Attorney; Chair, California Republican Party, 2003-07

Duf Sundheim says technology has changed the way we live, work, learn and play, yet has had almost no impact on government, which has helped create a huge disconnect between people and government. Sundheim will discuss the unprecedented opportunities he sees for technology to transform government to make it more responsive to peoples’ needs, lead to a “new burst of freedom,” and form a more just society.

Sundheim has been active in GOP politics since he served as a page in the Illinois state legislature at age 18. His focus has been government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. Sundheim received his B.A. in economics from Stanford University—where he won two letters in football—and his J.D. from Northwestern University Law School. His supporters include former Secretary of State George Shultz, Charles Schwab, and California Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Tue 5/24

Image - Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch: Taking Off the Mask in the Ever Forward Club

Date: Tue, May 24, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Ashanti Branch, M.Ed., Project Fellow, Stanford's d.school; Studied in Civil Engineering, Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo; Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico, and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators

Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. As a young teacher in the East Bay, Branch recognized, "When my students aren’t learning, it’s not usually because they can’t; it’s because they have deep-seated behaviors that are holding them back." This led Branch in 2004 to create the Ever Forward Club to provide a safe place for these young men to “take off their masks and be supported for who they really are,” and 93 percent of Club members have gone on to college. Both documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Stanford’s “design thinking” program have contributed to Branch’s efforts to grow this organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students.

Branch and a few of his students will use this concept of “taking off the mask” to show us how, in the Ever Forward Club, they "look behind our masks that we wear on a daily basis and that often get in our way of living truly fulfilling lives." That will introduce the kind of work they do, and help us understand why they achieve such excellent results.

Wed 5/25

Image - Dr. James Madara

James Madara, M.D., CEO, American Medical Association: The Future of Health Care

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

James Madara, M.D., Executive Vice President and CEO, American Medical Association; Former Dean, University of Chicago School of Medicine

The AMA, founded in 1847, is the largest association of physicans in the United States, with the stated goal of enhancing the delivery of care and enabling physicians and health teams to partner effectively with patients to achieve better health for all. Join AMA CEO Dr. James Madara for a candid conversation about bringing down the costs of medicine while still treating patients with the highest standards.

Dr. Madara will particularly address what he says is America’s biggest health threat: costly, chronic diseases and their toll on public health and the economy. He says the future of health care is combating these diseases before they become life-altering ailments, and harnessing the power of technological innovation to empower today’s physicians and better train those of tomorrow. Bring your questions. 

Thu 5/26

Image - Francine Brevetti

How to Write Your Own (or Someone Else's) Obituary

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Francine Brevetti, Biographer; Author; Workshop Leader; Journalist

Brevetti will take a step-by-step approach to explaining one of the most difficult tasks that most people face—and typically under difficult circumstances. Writing one's own obituary can save a loved one from that responsibility, provided the relative is able to complete it on their own. Step by step, Ms. Brevetti will lead the audience through the process of where to find resources that might be available to help, the proper format and contents, and publishing the obituary.

Why take chances? Learn from a professional how to write your own obituary, or that of someone else.

Image - Jessica Herrin

Cultivate Your Entrepreneurial Spirit with Jessica Herrin, CEO of Stella and Dot

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO, Stella & Dot Family Brands; Author, Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms
Jory Des Jardins, Author, Media Strategist and Co-founder, BlogHer—Moderator

Serial entrepreneur Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of the Stella & Dot Family Brands and author of the new book Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, will explain how you can turn your passion into your career and live the life that you've always dreamed of by cultivating your entrepreneurial spirit.

Fri 5/27

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, May 27, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore one of San Francisco’s 44 hills, and one of its original "Seven Hills." Because of great views and its central position, Nob Hill became an exclusive enclave of the rich and famous on the west coast who built large mansions in the neighborhood. This included prominent tycoons such as Leland Stanford, and other members of the Big Four. Highlights include the history of four landmark hotels: The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court, and Huntington Hotel. Visit the city’s largest house of worship, Grace Cathedral, and discover architectural tidbits and anecdotes about the railroad barons and silver kings. A true San Francisco experience of elegance, urbanity, scandals and fabulous views.

Wed 6/1

Image - Jan Ellison

A Small Indiscretion

Date: Wed, June 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jan Ellison, Author, A Small Indiscretion

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

Jan Ellison's debut novel, A Small Indiscretion, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2015. A graduate of Stanford, Jan left college for a year at 19 to study French in Paris, work in an office in London, and try her hand at writing. Twenty years later, her notes from that year became the germ of her acclaimed debut. She will discuss that journey, along with the long and winding road — paved with rejection and revision — to publishing her first short story, which went on to win an O. Henry Prize.

Thu 6/2

Image - Sherry Turkle

Managing the Impact of Technology on Our Lives

Date: Thu, June 02, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Sherry Turkle, Ph.D, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society; MIT; Founder and Director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self; Harvard Centennial Medalist; Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year; Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Sherry Turkle, M.I.T. professor, researcher, consultant and author, will discuss the timely topic of digital influences on our personal lives, from how we relate to our family, friends, and lovers, plus how technology affects how we think, conduct our business, our productivity, creativity and innovation. The emphasis will be on the strategies to reintroduce conversation and put technology in a supporting, not default, mode of communication.

Referred to by many as the "Margaret Mead of digital culture," Professor Turkle has 30 years of experience researching the psychology of people’s relationship with technology. She is the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. She has a long list of awards and honors, has delighted audiences on all the major networks, and has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications.

A Perfect Brew: Blue Bottle Coffee and Japan's Culture

Date: Thu, June 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

James Freeman, Founder and CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee; Author, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

The Bay Area’s own Blue Bottle Coffee is known for its delicious coffee, clean, modern spaces and rapid expansion. Entering the Japanese market had been a longtime dream for Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, an enthusiastic fan of Japanese culture. Blue Bottle uses Japanese equipment and embraces the Japanese tradition of kodawari, or pursuit of perfection in one’s craft. Freeman has made numerous visits to Japan, and recently celebrated the opening of a Blue Bottle outlet in Tokyo.

Join us as Freeman shares the story of Blue Bottle’s Japan market entry, from adjustments the company made to Japanese culture (and what they didn’t change), to its most interesting and surprising Japan experiences, as well as the inspiration he draws from Japan’s traditions.

Fri 6/3

Image - Robert Heller

The Unlikely Governor: From the Caves to the Federal Reserve

Date: Fri, June 03, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Robert Heller, Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Former President, VISA U.S.A.; Author, The Unlikely Governor

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

Robert Heller chronicles his journey from the caves and cellars of war-ravaged Germany to the United States and his eventual rise to be a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and president and CEO of VISA USA. Accompanied by never-ending disasters, his career takes him through academia, business and government service as he witnesses the collapse of the international monetary system, the near failure of Bank of America and the most monumental banking crisis in U.S. history. 

Mon 6/6

Image - Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland, Australia Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Date: Mon, June 06, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Queensland as the gateway to Asia-Pacific investment.

Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, MP, Premier of Queensland, Australia
Jeffrey Bleich, Former U.S. Ambassador to Australia—Moderator
Introduction by Dr. Jaleh Daie, Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Queensland is Australia’s second largest state and the third most populous, with more than 4.5 million inhabitants. The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, premier of Queensland, is one of her country’s leading political figures.

She will outline how her state is diversifying its economy from a traditional reliance on natural resources to innovation and ideas, and the potential that Queensland has as a launchpad for investment in the Asia-Pacific. She will also discuss the strategic importance of Australia to the world economy and international security. Ms Palaszczuk holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland, Master of Arts (Hons) from the University of London, Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland, and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University.

Image - Adrianna Quintero

Environment and Climate Action: Priority for Latinos

Date: Mon, June 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adrianna Quintero, Director and Founder, Voces Verdes; Director, Partner Engagement, Natural Resources Defense Council

The Hispanic Public Policy Agenda, of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), has designated environment and climate action as a priority for Latinos. The NHLA emphasizes the importance of Hispanic leadership on critical environmental and sustainable issues to their communities and neighborhoods.

Latinos face some of the most serious environmental problems. They disproportionately suffer the effects of environmental harm and climate change. Latinos are among the most concerned about climate impacts and some of the most committed to calling for action to address and move toward a clean energy future. For Latino families and communities, environmental issues are real and personal not just for now but for earth's future.

Join us for this important discussion about the bold policy agreements among Hispanic leaders to create and maintain healthy, safe and sustainable environments locally and worldwide.

Book Discussion Group: A Manual for Cleaning Women

Date: Mon, June 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

The Commonwealth Club's newest book discussion series kicks off with A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin, this year’s California Book Awards Gold medal winner. The discussion group will be devoted to the best of California literature, as determined by our CBA jury.

A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians. Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they'd ever overlooked her in the first place.

Please reserve your space; enrollment is limited. It is expected that you will have read the book so you can actively participate in the discussion.