Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Mon 9/19

Being Well While Dying

Date: Mon, September 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Ira Byock, M.D., Palliative Care Physician; Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Institute for Human Caring, Providence Health and Services; Professor of Medicine and Community & Family Medicine, Dartmouth

Americans tend to consider illness and dying as fundamentally medical problems. Doctors and nurses focus their attention on alleviating suffering at end of life. But though suffering is undeniably part of illness and dying, with good palliative care many people retain a capacity for subjective well-being through the end of their lives. Dr. Byock will explore the surprising possibility of contentment and joy in dying and the implications for our understanding of full and healthy living.

A renowned author, Dr. Byock has appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered," CBS "60 Minutes," "Fox and Friends," and PBS "The News Hour."

Tue 9/20

Image - Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox: Evolution of Religion Toward a Broader Spiritual Path

Date: Tue, September 20, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A view of changing spiritual approaches

Matthew Fox, Ph.D., Episcopal Priest; Author, Original Blessing, The Reinvention of Work, A Spirituality Named Compassion, A Way To God: Thomas Merton's Creation Spirituality Journey, and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times

Dr. Fox sees an ongoing, rapid shift from formal religion toward a broader-based, gender-neutral path that includes Eastern spirituality, the Wisdom Tradition in the Hebrew Bible, respect for the Earth and native traditions, and awe about nature and creation. Former Dominican priest Matthew Fox, "the most-read theologian in North America," has written more than 30 books on the topic, selling more than 1.5 million copies in dozens of languages. He will discuss the causes of this shift and show how, for example, the four paths of Creation Spirituality can bring joy, life, spiritual depth (and dance!) to the practice of spirituality. He will also discuss other traditions and the works of the Roman Catholic theologians and mystics Thomas Merton, Hildegard of Bingen, and Meister Eckhart.

Come to the Club to experience how, in the words of Merton, "our real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever-greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts."

Wed 9/21

Image - Ross King

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

Date: Wed, September 21, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Claude Monet—the man, the times, and the art

Ross King, Author, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies

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

We have all seen—whether live, in photographs or on postcards—Claude Monet's legendary water lily paintings. They are in museums all over the world and are among the most beloved works of art of the past century. Yet these soothing images were created amid terrible personal turmoil and sadness. As World War I exploded within hearing distance of his house at Giverny, Monet's personal losses piled up and formed the tragic backdrop of his last and largest creations. Using letters, memoirs and other sources, Ross King reveals a more complex, more human, more intimate Claude Monet than has ever been portrayed, and firmly places his water lily project among the greatest achievements in the history of art.

Thu 9/22

At the Crossroads: Oppression and Resilience in Diverse LGBT Communities

Date: Thu, September 22, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A psychological perspective on justice and oppression

Kimberly F. Balsam, Ph.D. Professor; President-Elect, APA's Division 44; Co-Director, Center for LGBTQ Evidence-Based Applied Research, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University

The past five years have been times of rapid change for LGBT communities in the United States. With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011 and the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015, LGBT people have experienced rapid gains in visibility, acceptance and legal rights. However, this progress has disproportionately advanced the well-being of those who are white sexual minorities, leaving issues of racial and ethnic diversity, social class and gender identity in the margins. Further, the recent shooting in Orlando highlights the ongoing oppression, including violence and fear of violence, that LGBT individuals must still contend with on a daily basis.

These developments have led many to argue that we find ourselves at a crossroads in LGBT history that requires new paradigms that will broaden justice to more people. Balsam will discuss psychological perspectives on oppression and resilience, offering a lens through which to envision the path forward in this challenging and ever-changing social context.

Mon 9/26

Humanities West Book Discussion: A Nervous Splendor, by Frederic Morton

Date: Mon, September 26, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss A Nervous Splendor. Frederic Morton deftly tells the haunting story of the Crown Prince Rudolf and his city, where, in the span of only 10 months, "the Western dream started to go wrong." Morton's story studies other young men just as frustrated as the prince, including young Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Theodor Herzl, Gustav Klimt, and the playwright Arthur Schnitzler, whose La Ronde was the great erotic drama of the fin de siecle. Morton interweaves their fates with that of the doomed prince and the entire city. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, September 26, 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 - Elizabeth Lesser and Isabel Allende

Elizabeth Lesser in Conversation with Isabel Allende

Date: Mon, September 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Elizabeth Lesser, Co Founder, Omega Institute; Author, Marrow: A Love Story
In Conversation with Isabel Allende, Novelist and Human Rights Activist

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

The author of The New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a "soul marrow transplant," examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.

Tue 9/27

Image - Scott Allan Morrison

The Dark Side of Social Media: Privacy, Manipulation and Terms of Use

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Scott Allan Morrison, Former Silicon Valley Journalist; Author, Terms of Use
In conversation with Lisen Stromberg, Independent Journalist, CEO and Founder, AcceleratingWomen

Facebook has vowed that it will not attempt to influence the outcome of an election. But as veteran Silicon Valley journalist Scott Allan Morrison shows us in his debut thriller Terms of Use, social media companies can manipulate voters, and there are no laws to prevent them from doing so. Join Scott as he discusses his novel, Internet privacy and social media’s growing influence over our personal lives and our political system.

Image - Robert Reich

Robert Reich: The Oddest Presidential Election in Living Memory

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Robert Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary of Labor; Author, Saving Capitalism

In the midst of an unpredictable presidential election, get insight from a veteran political figure who knows Washington inside and out. Time magazine named Reich one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. Come hear his provocative thoughts on the presidential election and the future of America.

Wed 9/28

Image - Adam Browning

Solar for All: Energy for All the Planet and All the People

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar
Vien Truong, Director, Green for All
Erica Mackie, Co-Founder and CEO, Grid Alternatives

The clean energy revolution has the power to transform our planet and our communities. Current massive solar cost reductions mean that solar energy will be able to deliver health and economic benefits to everyone, including low-income and impoverished areas. Solar has the power to lower utility bills for every American, including 22 million low-income families, enabling them to invest dollars in their living and in their futures rather than in ever-rising energy bills. Advocates say that harnessing local sunshine will create good jobs and a pathway for everyone, including poor communities and families. Join our distinguished panel in a discussion of promise, progress and challenges to build a new solar economy available for all our planet and all our people.

Thu 9/29

Image - Bay Bridge

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Another neighborhood adventure

Join Rick Evans for his new walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the location of the future Commonwealth Club headquarters. Hear the dynamic stories of the entrepreneurs, controversial artists and labor organizers who created this recently revitalized neighborhood. This tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - Tracy Kidder

Author Tracy Kidder: Profiling the Pied Piper of Geeks

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
"Money is meant to be moved"

Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize Winner; Author, A Truck Full of Money

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

Tracy Kidder has been called the “master of the nonfiction narrative.” His previous work, Soul of a New Machine, celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America, earned a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. His enormously influential book Mountains Beyond Mountains captured two global health crises—tuberculosis and AIDS—through the eyes of a single-minded physician bent on improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet. In his latest work, A Truck Full of Money, he profiles Paul English, an unconventional entrepreneur and founder of Kayak.com, known as “the Pied Piper of Geeks”, who seeks to give away his fortune. Come hear a mesmorizing portrait of a man whose iconoclastic behavior could well influence the way we all think about materialism.

Wed 10/5

Image - Tara Smith

Can Courts Get the Law Right? Judicial Review’s Problem with Objectivity

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Judicial review and the rule of law

Tara Smith, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin; Author, Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System

The best laws in the world are useless if they are misunderstood by the courts. Yet the debate over judicial review—proper interpretation of laws—tends to be a minefield of loaded concepts, straw men and false alternatives. Tara Smith explains the pillars of objective law and the essentials needed to restore objective judicial review. Hear Smith's unique perspective on the originalism vs. living constitution vs. minimalism debate.

Image - Michael Krasny

KQED’s Michael Krasny: Oy, Does He Have Jokes for You

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Come ready to laugh a lot

Michael Krasny, Host, "Forum"; Author, Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It Means
In conversation with Peter Coyote

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

Michael Krasny has been telling Jewish jokes since his bar mitvah, and it’s been said that he knows more of them than anyone on the planet. He has now put together a compendium of Jewish jokes that packs the punches with hilarious riff after riff and also offers a window into Jewish culture. Let There Be Laughter borrows from traditional humor and such Jewish comedy legends and new voices as Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Larry David, Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer. With his background as a scholar and public radio host, Krasny also delves deeply into the themes, topics and form of Jewish humor: chauvinism undercut by irony and self-mockery, the fear of losing cultural identity through assimilation, the importance of vocal inflection in joke-telling, and calls to communal memory, including the use of Yiddish. Above all, come ready to laugh a lot.

Mon 10/10

Image - The Creative Architect

The Creative Architect

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A look inside an amazing episode of modern architecture and psychology

Pierluigi Serraino, Architect; Author, The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study
In conversation with John King, Architecture Critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Night Philosophy unearths a late 1950s "source of creativity" study whose data has finally been analyzed and published. Forty eminent architects—including Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, Philip Johnson, George Nelson, Richard Neutra, Eliot Noyes, Pietro Belluschi, Serge Chermayeff and A. Quincy Jones—descended on UC Berkeley for three days of intensive testing in an attempt to discover the sources of their creativity. Pierluigi Serraino charts the development and implementation of this historic study, producing the first look at an amazing and matchless episode in the annals of modern architecture and psychology.

Fri 10/14

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, October 14, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore one of San Francisco's original "Seven Hills"

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.

Tue 10/18

Image - Wine

Bread, Wine and Chocolate in a Warming World

Date: Tue, October 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
A matter of good taste

Simran Sethi, Author, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
Anna Lappe, Author, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It

The industrialization of food has caused much of the food we eat to taste the same, whether you are nibbling at a farmer’s market in San Francisco, a Midwestern barbecue or a fast food joint in China. Ninety-five percent of the world’s calories now come from only 30 species, and Simran Sethi says a closer look at America’s cornucopia of grocery store options shows that our foods are primarily made up of only corn, wheat, rice, palm oil and soybeans. Sethi traveled to six continents in search of delicious and endangered tastes and how we can save the foods we love.

Anna Lappe is a prominent leader in the sustainable food movement. She is founder of the Small Planet Institute and head of the Real Food Media Project, which spreads the story of the power of sustainable food using creative movies and grassroots events. She and her mother, Frances Moore Lappe, co-founded the Small Planet Fund, which has raised nearly $1 million for democratic social movements worldwide, two of which have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mon 10/24

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, October 24, 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 - spaceship

How to Make a Spaceship! (without NASA)

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The private space race is on!

Julian Guthrie, Journalist; Author, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight
Mike Melvill, World's First Commercial Astronaut
Matt Stinemetze, Engineer and Project Manager, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne
Erik Lindbergh, Grandson of Aviators Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Supporter of Private Race to Space

Virgin founder Richard Branson said of Guthrie’s book, “This tells of a turning point in history, when entrepreneurs were offered the chance to do something only governments had done before. Whether you are 9 years old or 99, this inspiring tale will capture your imagination.”

Come meet the band of renegades who launched the private race to space, and the scrappy engineers and pilots who set out to win the $10 million prize offered to the first team that could build and fly a rocket to the start of space without the government's help. This is the entrepreneurial adventure story of Peter Diamandis, the XPRIZE, SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt. The winning of the XPRIZE wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry and a new age—SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic. It is about dreamers and doers, and making the impossible possible.

Wed 10/26

Image - Tom Stienstra

Tom Stienstra: The Mighty T, from Glacier to Golden Gate

Date: Wed, October 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Meet the nation's most-award winning outdoors writer

Tom Stienstra, Outdoors Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

America's best-known outdoors man and the SF Chronicle outdoors editor (lucky us), Stienstra will share dramatic photos, videos and stories from his expedition to climb the Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park, where he traces the melting drops of water to the Tuolumne River en route to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. His expedition is the storyline for national PBS showing that will air in the late fall.

Stienstra is the nation's only four-time winner of the OWAA President's Award, National Outdoor Writer of the Year, and only the fourth living member inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame