Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Mon 7/17

Image - Begin with the End

Begin with the End in Mind: The Impact of Trauma on Children’s Brains and Bodies

Date: Mon, July 17, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Combating the effects of poverty and violence

Christine Stoner-Mertz, LCSW, President and CEO, Lincoln

Evolving brain science has taught us much about the impact of trauma on developing brains. As a foster parent and as CEO of Lincoln, a Bay Area nonprofit serving children and youth, Christine Stoner-Mertz brings a deep understanding of the many ways trauma associated with poverty, community violence and mental health challenges impact children’s growth and development. She will discuss these impacts and the urgency to develop policies that support early screening and interventions for at-risk children.

Stoner-Mertz is driven by the belief that every young person deserves a family, and every parent wants his or her child to succeed despite the challenges of poverty, trauma, substance use and limited educational resources. She received her MSW from the University of Michigan and is a licensed clinical social worker. She has served on several state and local association boards and was a recipient of the Exemplar Award from the National Network for Social Work Managers. Stoner-Mertz currently serves on the board of the National Council of Behavioral Health and the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies.

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Ancestry’s Catherine Ball: Who Do You Think You Are?

Date: Mon, July 17, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ancestry and our place in the world

Catherine Ball, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Ancestry

Perceived identity has been a discussion for centuries because of its crucial and diverse psychological implications. Culture, social roles, relationships and family structure have been known to make up and create one’s sense of self. This need rests deep inside every human—to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves and to find our place in the world.  

Catherine Ball will discuss how the combination of DNA and family history data provides us with better sense of identity—a deeper and empowering understanding of who we are, how we connect to society and how we’ve been shaped by human history.

Recently published research enables an unprecedented look at ancestral migration patterns, including 500 million genetic relationships, and ties these groups to historical events of the past 400 years. Ball will discuss these incredibly valuable insights into our history and the forces that continue to shape our beliefs, giving us a more granular look at how immigration, geography, politics, religion and economics have shaped the world.

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Socrates Café

Date: Mon, July 17, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ongoing Socrates forum
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 7/18

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For-Profit Punishment? The Private Prison Question

Date: Tue, July 18, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Reporting on criminal justice reform

Shane Bauer, Senior Reporter, Mother Jones; Co-Author, A Sliver of Light
Alysia Santo, Staff Reporter, the Marshall Project
Mina Kim, News Anchor and Friday's "Forum" Host, KQED—Moderator
Additional Panelists TBA

In 2016, the Obama administration declared that the federal government would begin phasing out the use of private, for-profit prisons in the justice system. This move came in response to a Justice Department report that showed private prisons did not save money and were less safe than public facilities. In early 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded this decision. Today, the debate continues: Should the American criminal justice system include private, for-profit entities? Or should the prison system at the state and federal levels be run by the government?

Mother Jones senior reporter Shane Bauer, who reported on his four-month stint as a private prison guard, will join us for this discussion. We will also hear from Alysia Santo, a staff reporter at the Marshall Project, a nonprofit outlet that features journalism on criminal justice reform. Santo recently exposed the deadly conditions on board a private prisoner transportation van. Join us for a conversation about the state of the American criminal justice system and private prisons.

Wed 7/19

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Creating Moments of Joy in Caregiving

Date: Wed, July 19, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Creating cherished memories through caregiving

Esther Koch, Gerontologist; Founder, Encore Management

The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. A scarce commodity for you, it is even more precious for an aging parent or loved one. Yet far too many people embrace their caregiver role too late and see it only in negative terms. Esther Koch will explain how becoming a "facilitator of experiences" is not only the best prescription for caregiver stress, but it will also provide you with some of life’s most cherished memories.

Mon 7/24

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SFDebate

Date: Mon, July 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Biweekly debate

The SFDebate is an open forum for discussion on the events of our time. It is a place where you will not only be exposed to opposing points of view, but a safe place where you will be encouraged to find and speak up for yours. SFDebate is also a meeting of minds, and we follow every meeting with continued debate and conversation at a nearby bar/restaurant.

Click here to sign up for this program via Meetup. 

Thu 7/27

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, July 27, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Walking tour

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 - Subhi Nahas

Refugees Without Refuge: Stories of LGBTQ Refugees Stranded in the Middle East

Date: Thu, July 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Advocating for LGBTQ refugees

Subhi Nahas, Human Rights Activist; Founder/Board Chair, Spectra Project
Arthur Slepian, Executive Director, A Wider Bridge—Moderator

Subhi Nahas, founder and board chair of Spectra Project and a Syrian refugee who gained asylum in the U.S. in 2015, will describe his experiences as a refugee as well as his efforts to help others and advocate for minorities of different sexual orientations and genders in the Middle East and North Africa. While many organizations assist refugees worldwide, only one organization supports the extremely vulnerable group of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa regions who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and who remain in countries of transit, unsure of when and if they will be resettled. Nahas has been recognized by the California State Assembly, testified at the first United Nations assembly on LGBTQ rights and has received numerous prestigious awards.

Mon 7/31

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Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, July 31, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan—has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group. Each month we discuss timely, cultural subjects in a civil atmosphere with respect for others and their opinions.

Image - Eclipse

The Sky Event of the Decade: The “All-American” Eclipse of the Sun on August 21

Date: Mon, July 31, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Upcoming total solar eclipse

Andrew Fraknoi, Chair, Astronomy Department, Foothill College; Former Executive Director, Astronomical Society of the Pacific; Author, When the Sun Goes Dark

On Monday, August 21, 2017, an eclipse of the sun will be visible throughout the U.S. and all of North America. People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see a spectacular total eclipse, the first in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The moon will briefly cover the sun completely, and day will turn into night. Everyone else (an estimated 500 million people, including those in the Bay Area) will see a partial eclipse, where the moon covers a good portion of the sun. Special glasses or viewing techniques are needed to look at the sun safely during a partial eclipse. (Sunglasses are not enough.)

Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi will describe how eclipses work, why they are one of nature’s most spectacular sights, exactly when and where the eclipse of 2017 will be visible, and how to observe the eclipse of the sun safely. He’ll also cover historic discoveries made during eclipses, citizen science projects planned for the 2017 eclipse, and concerns about gridlock and lack of public services in the eclipse’s path. Fraknoi is co-leader of a project that will distribute 2 million eclipse glasses (and eclipse information) through public libraries in the U.S.

Fraknoi serves on the 2017 Eclipse Task Force of the American Astronomical Society and has been training teachers and librarians to act as guides for the public as the August eclipse approaches. The International Astronomical Union has named Asteroid 4859 after Fraknoi in honor of his contributions to the public understanding of science. Following his retirement from Foothill College this summer, he will teach noncredit courses for adults at San Francisco State and the University of San Francisco. He is also the co-author of a new children’s book about eclipses, When the Sun Goes Dark.

Tue 8/8

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Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

Date: Tue, August 08, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
How harsher laws led to injustice

James Forman Jr., Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Former Public Defender; Author, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

The outrage over the senseless killings of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement has led to a renewed conversation about race in America, where black people are more likely than whites to be arrested for minor crimes, to be dealt harsher sentences and to be more unfairly impacted by their criminal records. Yet the criminal justice system is staffed by thousands of black police officers, judges, corrections officers and prosecutors. Forman examines the tragic roots of the war on crime, showing how tougher laws and harsher responses were proposed by the nation’s first black mayors, police chiefs and city council members. When poverty, crime, drug addiction and violence were on the rise, their stringent law-and-order tactics were seen as necessary to protect and heal these communities. In heartbreaking detail, Forman reveals how incremental steps taken in the name of the civil rights movement gradually eroded the rights and opportunities of the very people they were meant to help.

Thu 8/10

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Finding Fibonacci

Date: Thu, August 10, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The lost legacy of Fibonacci

Keith Devlin, Executive Director, Stanford University's H-STAR Institute; President, BrainQuake; Senior Researcher, the Center for the Study of Language and Information; the "Math Guy," NPR; Author, Finding Fibonacci

Finding Fibonacci is Devlin's compelling quest to tell the story of the medieval mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, more popularly known as Fibonacci. Although he is most famous for the Fibonacci numbers (which he did not invent), Fibonacci's greatest contribution was as an expositor of mathematical ideas at a level ordinary people could understand. In 1202, Liber Abbaci ("The Book of Calculation") introduced the western world to modern arithmetic. Yet Fibonacci was long forgotten after his death, and it was not until the 1960s that his achievements were finally recognized. Devlin describes his quest's highs and lows, false starts and disappointments, tragedies and unexpected turns, hilarious episodes, and occasional lucky breaks, bringing together the threads of Fibonacci's astonishing (and previously vanishing) part in the revival of science, technology and commerce.

Thu 8/17

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Good Health Starts in Your Home

Date: Thu, August 17, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Removing toxins to create a healthy lifestyle

Beth Greer, The Super Natural Mom®; Journalist; Author, Super Natural Home

What if you could get healthy by simply changing your home environment? Every day, we’re exposed to hundreds of untested chemicals: additives in food, endocrine disruptors in soap and shampoo, fumes in household cleaners. These chemicals comprise your “body burden” and can exacerbate allergies, asthma, fatigue, cough, headache and more serious health conditions.

Beth Greer had been living what she considered a healthy lifestyle when a medical crisis prompted her to reevaluate everything—from the food she ate to the personal-care products she used and the environment she lived in. She eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery by making small but powerful lifestyle shifts.

Greer, now one of the foremost experts on sustainable and toxin-free living, will share bite-sized wisdom she learned on her path back to health and give you a greater awareness of what goes in you, on you and surrounds you in order to radically improve your health and vitality. You will leave with simple, affordable ways to
• make safe, healthy product choices.
• understand vague and misleading food, personal care and cleaning labels.
• detect and eliminate electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, laptops and Wi-Fi.

As a consultant and speaker, Greer assists individuals and organizations in creating toxin-free, holistic homes and work environments as well as lifestyles that improve health, mood and performance. As an award-winning journalist, Greer was recently named one of the Top 50 Health and Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016. Her best-selling book, Super Natural Home, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra and Ralph Nader. 

In addition to experiencing firsthand the powerful benefits of holistic, toxin-free living, Greer found powerful holistic approaches that helped her teenage daughter overcome ADHD and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Greer is the host of “Kids in Crisis” radio show, where she interviews leading medical experts and treatment professionals. She is also the former president of the Learning Annex. Some of her clients include: Google, LinkedIn, NBC, NPR, Rodale WellnessMartha Stewart LivingHealthPrevention and CNN. Learn more at BethGreer.com.

Wed 8/30

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Fake Silk: The Hidden Story of a Workplace Tragedy

Date: Wed, August 30, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The dark story of toxic silk

Dr. Paul D. Blanc, M.D., MSPH, Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the University of California, San Francisco; Author, How Everyday Products Make People SickFake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon; Blogger, Household Hazards (hosted by Psychology Today

In a comprehensive and disturbing history of viscose rayon, or “fake silk,” Paul Blanc sheds light on the environmental and public health hazards of producing this ubiquitous textile. In Fake Silk: The Lethal History of Viscose Rayon, Blanc asks a fundamental question: When a new technology makes people ill, how high does the body count have to be before protective steps are taken? This is a dark story of hazardous manufacturing, poisonous materials, environmental abuses, political machinations and economics trumping safety concerns. Blanc explores the century-long history of fake silk, which is used to produce products such as rayon textiles and tires, cellophane, and everyday kitchen sponges. He uncovers the grim history of a product that crippled and even served a death sentence to many industry workers while at the same time environmentally releasing carbon disulfide, the critical toxic component of viscose.

Blanc received his bachelor's degree from Goddard College, where he first became interested in health and the environment. He later trained at the Harvard School of Public Health (in industrial hygiene), the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and Cook County Hospital. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He was a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy and at the American Academy in Rome. More recently, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Thu 9/14

Image - Sara Gottfried

The Younger Protocol: Three Breakthrough Strategies to Reverse "Inflammaging," Reset Gene Expression, and Lengthen Healthspan

Date: Thu, September 14, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Lengthening one's healthspan

Dr. Sara Gottfried, M.D., Health Expert; Author, Younger

The younger protocol will show you how to recognize the warning signs of aging and inflammation (“inflammaging”)—worsening vision, weight gain, loss of muscle mass, thinner skin and faulty memory—and turn them around with evidence-based functional medicine. Recent data shows that 90 percent of disease is caused not by genes but by the environment surrounding your genes, much of which can be modified with lifestyle choices. Applying the science of epigenetics—the interaction of genes with the environment, which leads to heritable changes in the way DNA is expressed in your body—you will learn three key strategies that modulate the genes of aging. These strategies are taken from Gottfried’s seven-week protocol, which is the basis of her new book, Younger. The goal is lengthen one's healthspan—the period of time when you feel young, healthy, and in your prime—relatively free of disease.

Gottfried is a world-renowned health expert and a New York Times best-selling author. She practices functional medicine and evidence-based integration in her online courses. After graduating from Harvard Medical School and MIT, Gottfried completed her residency at the University of California, San Francisco. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.SaraGottfriedMD.com.

Mon 9/18

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Tanzania: Country, People, Wildlife and Environment

Date: Mon, September 18, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Tanzania through the camera lens

Don Koss, Photographer, Researcher, Explorer

Journey to Tanzania with Don Koss, a highly respected photographer and researcher. With over forty years of adventures, Koss will share his reflections about life, habitat and cultural changes in one of the oldest known human inhabited areas in the world. His incredible collection of photographs tell of a land of geographical extremes and extraordinary wildlife. Don will provide examples of his outstanding collection of photographs, sharing visual outlines of Tanzania and its people, wildlife and environment. Join us for an incredible odyssey though the eye of an explorer.

Mon 9/25

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Chan Zuckerberg Biohub and the End of Human Disease

Date: Mon, September 25, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Curing the world's diseases

Joseph DeRisi, Co-President, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub; Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC San Francisco
Stephen Quake, Co-President, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub; Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, Stanford

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has an audacious vision: to "enable doctors to cure, prevent or manage all diseases during our children’s lifetime.” This vision may sound outlandish at first. However, when one considers how far medicine has come in the past 100 years, this vision doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Co-presidents Joe DeRisi and Steve Quake will share insights into their quest to end disease, from advancing basic science and expanding humankind’s understanding of fundamental truth to building new technologies that can radically accelerate the pace of scientific discovery.

Wed 9/27

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Technologies and Progress for Environmental Protection, Sustainability and Conservation

Date: Wed, September 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Harnessing technology in forest and wildlife conservation efforts

Rhett Butler, Founder and CEO, Mongabay
Topher White, Founder and CEO, Rainforest Connection
Crystal Davis, Director, Global Forest Watch
Barb Page, Bay Area Conservation and Ocean Conservationist

There is an accelerating effort among scientists, forest and wildlife managers as well as technologists and interest groups from NASA, Google and the Jane Goodall Institute to harness new technologies. These technologies, which range from satellite sensors, drones, camera traps and DNA detectors, can be used to improve and maintain forest and wildlife conservation; fight and expose illegal, unsustainable practices; and prevent the use of dangerous fuels and chemicals. Our panel will discuss what is new and what is working in this area. They will also discuss what 21st century technology might soon be available to protect and create healthy and safe environments in the Bay Area and throughout the world.

Thu 9/28

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The Hacking of the American Mind

Date: Thu, September 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The conflation of pleasure and happiness

Dr. Robert H. Lustig, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, University of California, San Francisco; Director, UCSF Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program

What is the difference between pleasure and happiness? These two positive emotions are often confused with each other, yet they couldn’t be more different. Pleasure is short-lived, visceral, usually experience alone, achievable with substances. Happiness, by contrast, is often the opposite—long-lived, ethereal, often experienced in social groups and cannot be achieved through substances. Pleasure is taking while happiness is giving. Pleasure relies on dopamine while happiness relies on serotonin. These too emotions involve two different neurotransmitters, regulatory systems and pathways in the brain.

But why should we care? Dopamine downregulates its own receptor: You get a hit, a rush—and then the receptors go down. Next time, you need more and more. Anything that generates pleasure can lead to addiction. Conversely, serotonin does not downregulate its own receptor, so you cannot overdose on too much happiness. There is one thing that does downregulate serotonin though: dopamine. The more pleasure we seek, the less happy we become.

In the last 45 years—in order to sell us their junk—Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Las Vegas and Silicon Valley have conflated pleasure with happiness so that we don’t know the difference anymore. Congress and the Supreme Court have codified corporate behavior, leaving us addicted and depressed. In the process, society has become fat, sick, stupid and broke. The only way to reverse this is by understanding the science of these two ostensibly “positive” emotions—how they interact and how to modulate them. Otherwise, those who abdicate happiness for pleasure will end up with neither.

Lustig is a neuroendocrinologist with basic and clinical training relative to hypothalamic development, anatomy and function. Prior to coming to San Francisco, he worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. A native of Brooklyn, Lustig graduated from MIT and received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. He has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Tennessee, Memphis. More information can be found here.