Upcoming Events: San Francisco

Mon 12/5

Image - Book cover of Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

Reading Californians Book Discussion Group

Date: Mon, December 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Book discussion group

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, by Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy, will be discussed at our next meeting. This is the story of a mostly ignored American murder—a "ghettoside" killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. The book has been described by critics as a masterly work of literary journalism and a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives, a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new insight into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.

Ghettoside was the gold medal winner for nonfiction in the 2015 Commonwealth Club's California Book Awards, which honor California writers. It was also named one of the best books of the year by The San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and several other publications.

Please join us for what promises to be a thoughtful and timely discussion.

Image - James Hoggan

I'm Right and You're an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up

Date: Mon, December 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

James Hoggan, President, Hoggan & Associates; Chair of the Board, David Suzuki Foundation; Author, I'm Right and You're an Idiot

James Hoggan contends that the most pressing environmental problem we face today is not climate change. It is pollution in the public square, where a smog of adversarial rhetoric and propaganda stifles discussion and creates resistance to change, thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems. In I'm Right and You're an Idiot, Hoggan grapples with this critical issue, conducting interviews with such notables as Thich Nhat Hanh, Noam Chomsky and the Dalai Lama.

Image - Cecile Richards
This event is Sold Out

The Future of Choice with Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood

Date: Mon, December 05, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
One hundred years of Planned Parenthood

Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Wade Davis, Former NFL Player; Thought Leader, Writer, Public Speaker and Educator on Gender, Race and Orientation Equality—Moderator

This year, Planned Parenthood marks its 100th year of providing vital health-care services, education and information to women, men and families across America.

While 2.5 million men and women visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers annually, the organization faces major opposition and during this historic election year, Planned Parenthood and its supporters have been under scrutiny by politicians and others who want to eliminate the organization’s state and federal funding and shut down its clinics. One side argues that Planned Parenthood’s initiatives should not be bolstered by the government and often have a negative impact, while Planned Parenthood’s supporters assert that without the organization’s services, public health and safety are potentially endangered.

Join INFORUM at The Commonwealth Club in welcoming Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards for a powerful and timely discussion about Planned Parenthood’s history, its role in our political and cultural dialogue, and what the future holds for the organization as it looks toward its next 100 years.

Tue 12/6

Image - Thomas Friedman
This event is Sold Out

Thomas Friedman: A Field Guide to the 21st Century

Date: Tue, December 06, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
A call for nations to be fast, fair and slow.

Thomas Friedman, Columnist, The New York Times; Author, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, The World Is Flat, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations; Twitter
In Conversation with Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California

In his most ambitious work to date, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration—and explains how to live in it. Due to an exponential increase in computing power, climbers atop Mount Everest enjoy excellent cell-phone service, and self-driving cars are taking to the roads.

A parallel explosion of economic interdependency has created new riches as well as spiraling debt burdens. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is also seeing dramatic changes as carbon levels rise and species go extinct, with compounding results. Today, it is easier than ever to be a maker (try 3-D printing) or a breaker (the Islamic State excels at using Twitter), but harder than ever to be a leader or merely "average."

Friedman concludes that nations and individuals must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values). Join Friedman for an engaging conversation on how we should think about and cope with all of these changes.

Wed 12/7

This event is Sold Out

Mind over Genes: Heredity Is not Destiny—The Science of Epigenetics

Date: Wed, December 07, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Learning about epigenetics

Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., Stem Cell Biology Pioneer; Best-selling Author, The Biology of Belief

A renaissance in science is creating a revolution in thought and understanding—and in our physical bodies—that is changing the world and our health. Epigenetics reveals that we are not victims of our genes. Cancer, depression and diseases were once believed to be preprogrammed in our genes. In fact, the nervous system can send different signals to cells, reprogramming their genetic activity and behavior. Dr. Lipton says that this provides for miraculous spontaneous remissions from cancer or other diseases.

Cell biologist and bestselling author Bruce H. Lipton will take you on a fast-paced journey from the microcosm of the cell to the macrocosm of the mind. This informative and self-empowering presentation on the mechanics of the mind-body interaction explores his views of how our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs create the conditions of our body and our place in the world. He has designed this presentation to inspire your spirit, engage your mind and empower you to become the master of your fate rather than the "victim" of your heredity.

Image - Secretary of State John Kerry

2016: From Paris to Trump

Date: Wed, December 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
A look back at a year in powering our future

Cassandra Sweet, Energy Reporter, The Wall Street Journal
Katie Fehrenbacher, Senior Writer, Fortune
David Baker, Energy Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle

Top energy stories this year range from speedy ratification of the Paris climate deal to the large number of reservations for Tesla’s mid-priced sedan. Recent headlines also include PG&E’s surprise announcement that it will close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and the surprise bankruptcy of SunEdison, once a darling of the solar industry. We’ll take stock of a year in which oil prices stayed low, autonomous cars sped ahead, and the first offshore wind farm in the United States was poised to come online.

On the policy front, California extended its main climate law with the passage of SB 32, but clean energy is playing defense in many states around the country. Would you fly in a battery-powered helicopter or a solar-powered plane? Brave souls did just that this year.

Join us for a look back at an active year in technology, innovation, policy and the battle over how to power our future.

Image - Ben Franklin Circles logo

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, December 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world. 

Thu 12/8

Image - view of the Bay Bridge

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, December 08, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

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 - Steven Machtinger

Lamentation and the Limits of Philosophy

Date: Thu, December 08, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Mozart and grief

Steven Machtinger, Attorney; Violist; Independent Mozart Scholar

Mozart and Homer both understood that philosophical perspectives can be of limited utility in providing comfort to the bereaved. In commemoration of the 225th anniversary of Mozart’s death, we will listen to the extraordinarily moving lamentation section of his String Quintet in G minor performed by the London Quintet. After examining how Mozart uses musical devices to achieve emotional effects, we will compare his musical evocation of grief with passages in The Iliad lamenting the death of heroes.

Image - Max Stier

Max Stier: How to Ensure a Smooth Presidential Transition

Date: Thu, December 08, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Making the peaceful transfer of power a smooth one

Max Stier, Founding President and CEO, Partnership for Public Service 
In conversation with Lenny Mendonca, McKinsey & Company Director Emeritus; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors.

The peaceful transition of power has been a hallmark of our democracy, but new presidents consistently fail to get their new administrations up and running quickly and effectively. Max Stier has been leading a comprehensive initiative to reform the system and advise both the outgoing administration and the incoming transition teams. He will give a candid, insider’s perspective on the most complex takeover in the world and a case study on changing how Washington works.

Under Max Stier’s leadership, the Partnership for Public Service has been widely praised as a first-class nonprofit organization and thought leader on federal government management issues. In 2015, the Partnership launched the Center for Presidential Transition, a first-of-its-kind effort to ensure the smoothest transition of power yet by working with campaign teams, federal agencies and the outgoing administration.  

Mr. Stier has worked previously in all three branches of the federal government, having served on the personal staff of U.S. Representative Jim Leach, clerked for Chief Judge James Oakes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and clerked for Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court. Most recently, he was deputy general counsel in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Stier is a graduate of Yale College and Stanford Law School.

Fri 12/9

Image - Senator George Mitchell and Alon Sachar

Senator George Mitchell and Alon Sachar: How the Next U.S. President Should Handle Israel and Palestine

Date: Fri, December 09, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Inside diplomacy in the Middle East

George Mitchell, Retired U.S. Senator (D-Maine); Former Senate Majority Leader; Former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace; Co-author, A Path To Peace: A Brief History of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and a Way Forward in the Middle East
Alon Sachar, Former Advisor, U.S. Ambassador to Israel and President Obama’s Special Envoys for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell and David Hale; Co-Author, A Path To Peace: A Brief History of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and a Way Forward in the Middle East
In conversation with Jeffrey Bleich, Former U.S. Ambassador to Australia; Former Special Counsel to President Obama; CEO, Diplomatic Solutions, Dentons Law Firm

George Mitchell knows how to bring peace to troubled regions. The New York Times has called him “a diplomatic heavyweight." He was the primary architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement for peace in Northern Ireland. But when he served as U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace under President Obama from 2009 to 2011—working to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—diplomacy did not prevail. For the first time, George Mitchell will offer his insider account of how the Israelis and the Palestinians have progressed (and regressed) in their negotiations through the years and the new steps the United States and international community can take to encourage a peace agreement.

Alan Sachar served as an advisor to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel B. Shapiro, in Tel Aviv from 2011 to 2012 and to President Obama’s special envoys for Middle East peace, George J. Mitchell and David Hale, from 2009 to 2011. From 2006 to 2009, he served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, focusing on the U.S. bilateral relationships with Israel and the Palestinians as well as Arab-Israeli relations. As a new U.S. administration is about to take power, hear from one of the world’s most astute statesmen and a top diplomatic advisor.

Mon 12/12

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

Date: Mon, December 12, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
The story of Israel

Daniel Gordis, Author; Israel Analyst; Commentator
Riva Gambert, Former Director, East Bay Israel Center; Director, East Bay International Jewish Film Festival

Dr. Gordis, a former Conservative rabbi, award-winning author of several books on Jewish thought and Israeli currents, and columnist for the Jerusalem Post, will discuss the topic of his latest book, which has been described as a luminous history shedding light on Israel's culture, politics and economy, so people can understand her future.

Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles before moving to Jerusalem, where he helped to found Israel's first liberal arts college. Presently, he is senior vice president and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

Image - Tom Toles

Is Climate Denial Destroying Our Planet?

Date: Mon, December 12, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
It's undenable — or is it?

Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology, Penn State University; Co-author, The Madhouse Effect
Cristine Russell, Freelance Science Journalist
Tom Toles, Political Cartoonist; Co-author, The Madhouse Effect

The majority of Americans agree climate disruption is a major concern. The Paris Climate Agreement has been ratified by 61 countries and counting, which so far represents 47.81 percent of the world’s emissions. So we all agree, climate change is the biggest problem humankind has ever faced? Not so fast.

Here in the United States, denial and confusion about the science is rampant, and we may be the only developed nation where it is written into a major political party’s platform. Climate scientist Michael Mann and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Tom Toles take a satirical look at how this lack of consensus came to be. Cristine Russell is a veteran science journalist with deep knowledge about conveying complex scientific issues to a broad public. How deep does climate doubt run, and how can communication help us move on to solutions?

Join us for a fun and informative look at manufactured doubt and genuine skepticism.

Image - Dale Dougherty

Makers of Innovation

Date: Mon, December 12, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
The maker movement

Dale Dougherty, Founder and CEO, Maker Magazine and Maker Faire; Author, Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Minds
In conversation with Robert Stephens, Founder of Geek Squad

Today, many people who call themselves makers are geeks. Familiar with the ideas and practices of open source software, these hardware geeks are changing how we make things, where we make things and who gets to make them. However, the maker movement is moving beyond its geek contingency, just as personal computers once did, and is spreading out to engage more and more people. The maker movement is having considerable impact on business and education, emphasizing hands-on education and creative problem-solving. It is also introducing open, collaborative models around innovation that broaden participation in an innovation-driven economy. Join us for a conversation about making the future of innovation.

Dale Dougherty has been on the front lines of a worldwide renaissance of creating, designing, modifying, inventing and personalizing that is affecting all aspects of how we do business. In his new book, Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, Our Minds, Dougherty acts as a tour guide to the spectacular, hope-filled global phenomenon that we now call the maker movement. In conversation with Robert Stephens, the founder of the Geek Squad, they will explore how the do-it-yourself movement approaches arts, crafts, science and engineering, changing us as a result.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 12/12/16

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Holiday Social 12/12/16

Date: Mon, December 12, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Our year-end look at the politics of 2016 and what to expect in 2017

Steven Tavares, Founder of the Hyperlocal Government and Politics News Site, the East Bay Citizen; Twitter
Additional panelists TBA

Join us for a year-end political roundtable as we explore the biggest, most controversial and sometimes the surprising political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees). 

Tue 12/13

Image - Mae Jemison
This event is Sold Out

Astronaut Mae Jemison: Launching Women into Science and Tech

Date: Tue, December 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Getting Americans excited about science

Mae Jemison, M.D., Astronaut; Physician

Kimberly Bryant, Electrical Engineer; Founder and Executive Director, Black Girls Code—Moderator

 

Sponsored by Bayer Corporation as part of its award-winning Making Science Make Sense® program—a company-wide initiative that advances science literacy across the United States through hands-on science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.

Bayer logoPhysician and astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison is a science literacy advocate and the lead ambassador of the Bayer Making Science Make Sense program. The goal of the initiative is to provide 1 million hands-on science experiences to children by 2020. Dr. Jemison is particularly devoted to getting more girls, young women and minorities into careers in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM).

Join Dr. Jemison for an inspiring call-to-action on how to get Americans psyched about science!

Wed 12/14

Image - Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel: The Women Who Rocked the Cosmos

Date: Wed, December 14, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Meet the women who changed the way we see the universe

Dava Sobel, Former Science Reporter, The New York Times; Author, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars
Becky Worley, Tech Contributor, "Good Morning America"—Moderator

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

Dava Sobel argues that in the 19th century, it was women and not male astronomers who actually made some of the great discoveries of the universe. In the mid-19th century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or “human computers,” to interpret the observations made via telescope by their male counterparts each night. At the outset, this group included the wives, sisters and daughters of the resident astronomers, but by the 1880s the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges—Vassar, Wellesley and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. The “glass universe” of a half-million plates that Harvard amassed in this period—thanks in part to the early financial support of another woman, Anna Draper, whose late husband pioneered the technique of stellar photography—enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim.

Come hear this captivating, little-known true story of a group of women whose remarkable contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe. Sobel is a noted author, and in addition to her work for The New York Times she has been a longtime science contributor to Harvard MagazineAudubonDiscoverLifeOmni, and The New Yorker.

Thu 12/15

Image - Dr. Naomi Oreskes

Dr. Naomi Oreskes: The 2016 Stephen Schneider Award

Date: Thu, December 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
6th annual Stephen Schneider Award winner

Naomi Oreskes, Ph.D., Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University 
Steven Chu, Ph.D., Professor of Physics and Molecular & Cellular Physiology, Stanford

Climate One presents Naomi Oreskes the 6th Annual Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. According to Schneider Award juror Ben Santer, “Her 2004 Science paper helped to quantify, for the first time, the broad scientific consensus on climate change. Her recent research unmasked the forces behind denial of human effects on climate and improved our chances of having a responsible, science-based discussion of climate change solutions.”

Dr. Oreskes’ work first became well known when her paper “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” was featured in Al Gore’s seminal documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Later, she co-authored the influential book Merchants of Doubt, which explores the public-relations tactics used by the tobacco industry to obfuscate the health risks of smoking, and draws a parallel to the similar tactics used by the oil industry to forestall government action on climate change. This widely read book inspired a successful documentary of the same name.

The award was established in honor of Stephen Henry Schneider, one of the founding fathers of climatology, who died suddenly in 2010. Internationally recognized for research, policy analysis and outreach in climate change, Dr. Schneider focused on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He also consulted with federal agencies and/or White House staff in the Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. His work is chronicled at climatechange.net.

This special evening will include a conversation with Dr. Oreskes and other special guests in addition to a reception.

Mon 12/19

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, December 19, 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 1/3

Image - Hopkins Mansion on Nob Hill

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, January 03, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

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.