Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Thu 3/24

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located. 

Image- Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff: What Does the Digital Economy Really Mean?

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Douglas Rushkoff, Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics, CUNY/Queens; Author, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity; Twitter

Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of distributed prosperity, but many have complained that so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids. Rushkoff says It’s not technology’s fault; but instead he blames a growth-driven, economic operating system that has reached the limits of its ability to serve anyone, rich or poor, human or corporate. But he says there must be a better response to the lopsided returns of the digital economy than to throw rocks at the shuttle buses carrying Google employees to their jobs, as protesters did in December 2013.

Acclaimed media scholar and technology author Douglas Rushkoff calls for people to embrace the more distributed possibilities of these technology platforms. He says we can optimize every aspect of the economy—from central currency and debt to corporations and labor—to create sustainable prosperity for business and people alike.

Fri 3/25

Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes

Date: Fri, March 25, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Banfsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Foreign Affairs Scholar; Author; Educator 
Jonathan Curiel, Award-winning Journalist; Author; Former Reuters Foundation Scholar, Oxford University—Moderator

Keynoush, a foreign affairs scholar and educator, was a former translator for four Iranian presidents. She is an advisor to policy centers on the Middle East and to American companies doing business in the region. Keynoush earned her Ph.D. at Tufts University and was a visiting scholar at the King Faisal University Center for Islamic Center and Research. She will discuss the topic of her latest book, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes.

Mon 3/28

Humanities West Book Discussion: Don Quixote, by Cervantes

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote. We will be using the Edith Grossman translation. If anyone has a windmill to bring in, we will all tilt our lances at it. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

A Conversation About Atul Gawande's Being Mortal

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Patrick Arbore, M.A., Ed.D, Director, CESP
Karyn Skultety, Ph.D., Vice-President of Health Services, Institute on Aging

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande's book and "Frontline" documentary, tells the story of a physician learning how to think about death and dying in the context of being a healer and a doctor. Join Dr. Arbore and Dr. Skultety in a community discussion of Dr. Gawande's "Being Mortal". Explore concerns about life, death, loss, grief and the context and meaning of the recently passed California legislation legalizing physician assisted suicide in California. 

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, March 28, 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.

Tue 3/29

Image - Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank: What's the Matter with the Democrats?

Date: Tue, March 29, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Thomas Frank, Author, What’s the Matter with Kansas? and Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

Come hear the best-selling author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? echo that question as it relates to the Democratic Party. Frank says liberals like to believe that if only Democrats can continue to dominate national elections, if only those awful Republicans are beaten into submission, then the country will be on the right course. But he says this view fundamentally misunderstands the modern Democratic Party. Frank says that the Democrats have in fact done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, he argues that Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated, Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming.

In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats back to their historic goals—what he says is the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America. A former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and writes regularly for Salon. 

Wed 3/30

Image - Ambassador Robert Holleyman

Robert Holleyman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative: The Trans Pacific Partnership and Beyond

Date: Wed, March 30, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Robert Holleyman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative

Enhancing The Digital Economy Through Trade

Ambassador Holleyman will speak to the urgency around efforts to preserve a single, global digital marketplace. He will describe these new rules in detail and explain how he believes the Trans Pacific Partnership underpins policy efforts to drive the growth of the technology sector.

Robert W. Holleyman II was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for this position on September 18, 2014. His responsibilities include U.S. trade and investment relations with Asia, as well as trade negotiations and policy coordination in the areas of services, investment, intellectual property, and innovation. In the private sector, Holleyman worked in technology and worked internationally for more than two decades. He founded Cloud4Growth, a cloud technology development venture in 2013. Before that, Holleyman served as president and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 to 2013, where he had considerable experience opening new markets in Asia and globally. He is widely known for his engagement in the areas of innovation, intellectual property, cybersecurity, e-commerce and emerging technologies.

Image - Charles Koppelman

Fidel Castro Didn't Show up for Rehearsal: How I Produced the First New Cuban Opera in 50 Years ... and Survived

Date: Wed, March 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Charles Koppelman, Producer, Writer, Librettist

Cubanacan, the first new Cuban opera since that country’s revolution, is the story of Fidel Castro commissioning architect Ricardo Porro to design and build art schools on the site of the Havana Country Club in 1961. Koppelman will present video excerpts from the opera’s performance at the Havana Bienal last May, reveal the 13-year journey of this project, and explain what it's like to work in Cuba at the dawn of U.S.-Cuban rapprochement. 

Image - National Security, Privacy, and Freedom of Expression Online

National Security, Privacy, and Freedom of Expression Online

Date: Wed, March 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

David Kaye, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Author, HRC 2015—Report on Encryption and Anonymity in Digital Communications
In conversation with Jacob Foster, Attorney, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP; Served in the Office of the Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

A vibrant debate has arisen over whether encryption and anonymity online are essential to free expression or a threat to national security. While law enforcement contends that technological backdoors to encryption are necessary to prevent terrorists from "going dark," the Report by Special Rapporteur Kaye concludes that the right to free expression depends on freedom from electronic surveillance. Join us for a discussion of the future of online privacy in light of the Snowden disclosures, the rise of ISIS, and the encryption debate.

Thu 3/31

Image - Shannon Watts

Shannon Watts: Gun Safety Is a Winning Issue

Date: Thu, March 31, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence—Moderator

Shannon Watts is a mother of five who, prior to founding Moms Demand Action, was a stay-at-home mom and former communications executive. The day after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Shannon started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence. That online conversation turned into a grassroots movement of American mothers fighting for public safety measures that both respect the Second Amendment and protect people from gun violence. Together with Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action is the leading gun violence prevention organization in the country, with more than 3.5 million members and chapters in all 50 states.

Since its founding, Moms Demand has taken the fight for new and stronger gun laws to the states, passing background check laws in six states and battling gun bills that it thinks would undermine public safety. It persuaded corporations such as Starbucks, Target and Chipotle to adopt "gun sense" policies that put the safety of their employees and customers first. It's shaping the conversation about responsible gun ownership in America through its Be SMART campaign, which encourages responsible gun storage. And now, Moms Demand is building on these victories by making gun violence prevention a political priority in the upcoming 2016 elections.

Join INFORUM for a relevant and engaging discussion with Shannon about this important topic. 

Tue 4/5

Image Dr Laura Esserman

Breast Cancer: When Is Doing Less Doing More? How Does Knowing More Lead to Doing Better?

Date: Tue, April 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Laura, Esserman, M.D., M.B.A, Surgeon; Breast Cancer Oncology Specialist and Director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center. Recipient, National Cancer Institute’s SPORE Investigator of the Year Award; Member, President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Working Group on Advancing Innovation in Drug Development and Evaluation

Breast cancer is among America’s most feared diseases, and also one of its most politicized. Decades of public education have encouraged women to get annual mammograms, and diagnoses typically trigger surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. But not everyone agrees that this conventional approach serves women best. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer recommends annual screening for all women in their 40s, a change roundly criticized by patient advocates and rejected by Medicare and private insurers. Some surgeons now advise a "wait and see" strategy for women with specific breast cancer diagnoses. Is it possible that we’re harming ourselves with too many tests and treatments?

Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast cancer surgeon, wrestles with these issues on a daily basis. She conducts pioneering research in the areas of screening based on personalized risk assessment and the benefits of "watchful waiting," and even has suggested re-labeling for some forms of breast cancer. Dr. Esserman will discuss the sometimes surprising research that can assist women in making these personal and important decisions.

Wed 4/6

Image - Edward Warner

Running with Rhinos: Stories from a Radical Conservationist

Date: Wed, April 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Who would take on the most dangerous volunteer fieldwork around?

Edward Warner, Author; Philanthropist; Former Exploration Geologist

Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remain in the wilds of sub-Saharan Africa. Few if any laymen like Warner have been invited to care for them in the wild, some of the most dangerous volunteer fieldwork around. It gave him the opportunity to pursue and refine his emerging philosophy of radical conservationism, to cultivate partnerships between local communities and private landowners in Africa, and to export the lessons about land and wildlife management back home to the United States. 

Fri 4/8

Image - Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen

Date: Fri, April 08, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Anna Quindlen, Author, Miller’s Valley

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

Best known for her award-winning New York Times and Newsweek columns, Quindlen offers up a highly anticipated new novel.

In a small American town on the verge of dramatic change lives a family whose story you will not forget and a young girl who struggles to escape her parents, siblings, and friends even while she knows how deeply she is shaped and loved by them. Mimi Miller, even at a young age, knows that home is “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”

In Miller's Valley, Quindlen has written an emotionally powerful novel driven by a young girl who experiences first-hand the tension between nostalgia and progress as she tries to build a future for herself.

Mon 4/11

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your parents.

Date: Mon, April 11, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also will be conducting a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events. 

Gamechanging California Elections

Date: Mon, April 11, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Steve Swatt, Former Political Journalist, United Press International and KCRA TV Sacramento
Susie Swatt, Former Key Staffer, California Legislature; Former Special Assistant, California Fair Political Practices Commission
Jeff Raimundo, Former Political Reporter, Sacramento Bee and McClatchy Newspapers
Rebecca LaVally, Instructor, Sacramento State University; Former Sacramento Bureau Chief, United Press International

Monday Night Philosophy investigates California election history with the authors of the award-winning Game Changers: Twelve Elections That Transformed California. They will discuss the elections and political trends which had the greatest impact on California history, and how they continue to shape our lives and the current political landscape. Drawing from primary sources and new interviews, each chapter explores one election, from Leland Stanford's gubernatorial race to Gray Davis's recall, revealing the forces behind the choices made at the polls and their effects upon the intricate game played in Sacramento.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Food Justice in America

Date: Mon, April 11, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Panelists TBA

This program is underwritten by The California Wellness Foundation.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 23 million people in America live in what’s known as food deserts. These areas, mostly lower income communities in urban neighborhoods and rural towns, don’t have easy access to fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritious foods. As a result, their populations suffer from a myriad of preventable health problems, including higher levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

How can we ensure food security—with fresh, local, healthy food—for all Americans? Join our panel of advocates as they discuss what is being done to change the current food system in the United States to improve the availability of healthy food, as well as what is happening in our own communities here in the Bay Area.

Wed 4/13

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Wed, April 13, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory. 

Image - Shaka Senghor and Van Jones

Beyond Prisons: A Conversation About Criminal Justice Reform

Date: Wed, April 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Van Jones, President & Co-Founder, #cut50; CNN Political Commentator; Former White House Special Advisor
Shaka Senghor, Director of Strategy and Innovation, #cut50; Writer; Mentor; Motivational Speaker

Currently, more than 2 million Americans are in prison, close to one out of every 100 Americans. As a result, the federal government spends $80 billion each year on the incarceration industry while projects such as improving our national infrastructure and educational systems continue to be drastically underfunded.

#Cut50, a national, bipartisan initiative co-founded by Van Jones, is working to safely and smartly reduce the American prison population by 50 percent over the next 10 years. Hear from Van and Shaka Senghor, author of the memoir Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, about why they believe that now is the perfect time to achieve meaningful criminal justice reform and how #cut50 plans to make it happen.

Join INFORUM for a timely, insightful and illuminating conversation about criminal justice reform in America.