Upcoming Events

Fri 4/24

Image - Arabian Shakespeare

Arabian Shakespeare

Date: Fri, April 24, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Philippa Kelly, William Brown III and Asma Dhaif

William Brown III, Actor; Founding Director, Arabian Shakespeare Festival
Asma Dhaif, Masters Student in Instructional Technologies, SFSU
Torange Yeghizarian, Founding Artistic Director, Golden Thread Productions
Philippa Kelly, PhD; Educator; Shakespeare Expert – Moderator

In 2010 three Bay Area actors traveled to the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain to teach a small group of excited women students foundational aspects of theater, aided by Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies, histories and sonnets. After just two weeks, their students performed their favorite scenes in both English and Arabic before an enraptured audience of nearly 400. From this outpouring of enthusiasm the Arabian Shakespeare Festival was born. The company now seeks to build bridges between the United States and the Middle East by delving into the bard’s universal themes of love and hate, life and death, and vengeance and forgiveness on both sides of the seas. Brown, ASF founder and director, and Dr. Kelly explore Shakespeare’s reach into the Middle East and tackle the ongoing enigma of the bard’s true identity.

Mon 4/27

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
An enriching, provocative and fun discussion.

This evening's discussion will focus on Iran. Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion, led by Banafsheh Keynoush, 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 - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 4/27/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 4/27/15

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Informative and engaging commentary.

C.W. Nevius, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter @cwnevius
Daniel Borenstein, Columnist and Editorial Writer, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune; Twitter @borensteindan
Melissa Griffin Caen, Contributor, CBS SF (“Mornings with Melissa”) and San Francisco Magazine; Attorney; Twitter @melgriffincaen

Join us 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).

Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held once a month on a Monday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, John Nyquist, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Tue 4/28

Image - David Brooks

David Brooks

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
The Road to Character

David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times; Author, The Road to Character; Twitter: @nytdavidbrooks
Judge LaDoris H. Cordell (ret), Independent Police Auditor, City of San Jose — Moderator

Part of the American Value Series, underwritten by The Koret Foundation

How is character developed? In a society that emphasizes success and achievement, Brooks illustrates what humility, inner worth and moral depth really mean.

Brooks is a popular political commentator, and his New York Times column reaches over 800,000 readers around the world.

Image - The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet

The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Mitchell Gaynor, M.D.

Mitchell Gaynor, M.D.; Founder and President of Gaynor Wellness; Clinical Assistant Professor, Weill-Cornell Medical College

The 21st century is barely underway, and with it, the field of epigenetics has become the century’s first evolutionary leap into health optimization. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a renowned integrative oncologist, uses epigenetic modalities with his patients, and they are the focus of his latest book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle. His suggestions are perhaps the first concrete explanations of how factors other than one’s DNA create disease.

Gaynor’s talk shows how the use of carefully analyzed practices target the complexities of major diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and he demonstrates how certain epigenetic actions – food, nutrients, meditation, exercise, non-toxic environments – optimize health and minimize damage inside and outside the body. His talk, like his book, is really a manual for what to do now to diminish a disease that has already appeared, to prevent its spread, or to prevent its appearance in the future.

Dr. Gaynor’s gene changer therapies are the latest advance in the evolution of optimizing health. Destiny is not fixed. Destiny now includes the actions that each individual can take to repair and enhance gene expression.

Image - Reimagining America's Infrastructure

Reimagining America's Infrastructure

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Harriet Tregoning, Director, Office of Economic Resilience, HUD
Ginger Strand, Environmental Journalist; Historian; Author, Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power and Lies
Benjamin Grant, Urban Design Policy Director, SPUR
H. Emerson Blake, Editor-in-Chief, Orion Magazine; Executive Director, The Orion Society

Once a point of national pride, America's infrastructure is showing its age. Yet even in their heyday, the big infrastructure projects of the past were not always mindful of the communities in which they were built, nor did their designs appropriately reflect the varying regional needs of our broad nation. Over the past two years, Orion, an influential environmentalist magazine with stewardship at its core, has run a revealing series about responses to America’s looming infrastructure crisis. Its journalists have documented how communities are responding to new and old challenges, from protecting cities against super-powered hurricanes to renovating antiquated transportation systems. Take part as our panelists discuss how regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area can advance innovative, creative infrastructure solutions with a global reach.

Image - Hank Paulson: Dealing with China

Hank Paulson: Dealing with China

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Hank Paulson, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; Author, Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower

For decades Hank Paulson has enjoyed rare access to the highest levels of China’s ruling elite. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson was pivotal in opening up China to private enterprise. As Treasury secretary, he encouraged trade with the newly emerging economic powerhouse and safeguarded the teetering U.S. financial system. He created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world's second-largest economy. He also is co-chair of Risky Business, a project that quantifies and publicizes the economic risks from a changing climate.

Join us for a conversation with one of America’s top deal makers about dealing with an economic superpower.

 

Wed 4/29

Image - What’s the Value of a College Education?

What’s the Value of a College Education?

Date: Wed, April 29, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Alecia DeCoudreaux, President, Mills College
Richard Ekman, President, Council of Independent Colleges
Mary Marcy, President, Dominican University of California
Mohammad Qayoumi, President, California State University San Jose
Claude Steele, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley
Monica R. Martinez, Deeper Learning Senior Fellow, Hewlett Foundation; Commissioner, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics - Moderator

Program sponsored by Charles Schwab

For the United States to remain competitive in the global economy, our citizens need to be innovative, versatile and well-educated. To provide for these qualifications, does our model of higher education need a wholesale renovation? What would an education that is tailored to the needs of the 21st century – and affordable to all – even look like?

Join this distinguished panel of public and private college educators to tackle the difficult challenges ahead: What is the value of a liberal arts college education versus a pre-professional vocational skill-building model? Why does college cost so much? How can we close the gap between attendance and graduation rates? Can we design blended in-person and online courses that are both instructive and cost-efficient? And finally, how can we get our state and federal governments to continue to support higher education and to take the financial burden off of students?

Image - Jospeh Stiglitz: The Great Divide

Joseph Stiglitz: The Great Divide

Date: Wed, April 29, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Former Senior Vice President of the World Bank

Joseph Stiglitz, Professor, Columbia University; Author, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them; Twitter @JosephEStiglitz
Monika Bauerlein, Co-editor, Mother Jones; Twitter @MonikaBauerlein — Moderator

We are living in an era defined by economic uncertainty and bitter politics: The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, an emboldened Wall Street has shrugged off attempts at regulation, and important political policies have become the playthings of financial interests. Still, economist Joseph Stiglitz believes that a healthy economy and a fair democracy are within our grasp. By taking what he sees as practical political steps, such as making those at the top pay their fair share, spending more in areas that we all value – education, health, and infrastructure – and eliminating the corrosive advantages built into our markets, Stiglitz argues that we can once again create the opportunities that have for so long defined America, and get the country back on track.

Stiglitz is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Thu 4/30

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Thu, April 30, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
Join Rick Evans on a waterfront 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 two-hour tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - New Member Reception

New Member Reception

Date: Thu, April 30, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Are you new to the Club? Just want to explore and check it out? Come take a peek, meet other members and staff and learn about all The Commonwealth Club offers. Experience firsthand how The Commonwealth Club has become the nation’s leading public forum. Bring a friend and explore the Club together!

Fri 5/1

Image - Out of Sight: LA Art in the '60s

Out of Sight: LA Art in the '60s

Date: Fri, May 01, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With William Hackman and Patricia Albers

William Hackman, Journalist; Former Managing Editor, J. Paul Getty Trust; Author, Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties
In conversation with Patricia Albers, Journalist, Author, Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter and Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti

Art, perhaps more than any other medium, has a way of serving as a roadmap for a society’s political, social and aesthetic shifts. In the 1950s and ’60s, it was the Los Angeles art scene – more than that of New York City – that revealed the sort of country America was, and the sort of place it was rapidly becoming. Vital to LA’s vibrant arts’ landscape was curator Walter Hopps and the artists who surrounded him, such as Marcel Duchamp, Judy Chicago, John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman and Ed Kienholz. Hackman, a longtime arts journalist, reveals how their works interact with the city’s geography, burgeoning right-wing activism and the conflict between bohemia, masculinity and sexuality, presenting a vivid picture of mid-century Los Angeles.

Mon 5/4

Image - Sebastian Rejak, Polish Foreign Ministry’s Envoy to the Jewish Diaspora

Sebastian Rejak, Polish Foreign Ministry’s Envoy to the Jewish Diaspora

Date: Mon, May 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
How Europe’s Challenged Stability Affects Its Minorities: A Polish Perspective

How Europe’s Challenged Stability Affects Its Minorities: A Polish Perspective

Sebastian Rejak, Special Envoy of Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs for Relations with the Jewish Diaspora

Dr. Rejak will focus on the Ukrainian issue (east of Poland) and the terrorist challenges in France, Belgium and the U.K. (west of Poland) to discuss how terrorism affects multicultural dynamics and immigrant communities in Europe and specifically in Poland. He will also touch on the issue of recent Jewish emigration from Europe which he says is linked to the ubiquitous feeling that Europe is no longer safe for Jews. Dr. Rejak has been working for the Polish Foreign Ministry since 2006 in the domain of Polish-Jewish relations. He completed his doctoral studies at the Graduate School for Social Research, affiliated to the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Dr. Rejak is a member of the Polish Society for Jewish Studies and sits on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies (associated with the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies).

Book Discussion: The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault

Date: Mon, May 04, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

In The Last of the Wine, the long Peloponnesian War against Sparta underpins a story centering on the life of Athens and the circle of young men around Socrates. The novel focuses on the coming to manhood of its narrator, a young Athenian nobleman named Alexias, and of Lysis, the man who becomes the love of Alexias' life. The novel's chief concern is the sort of Greek love that inspired Plato's great dialogues, Symposium and Phaedrus. Alexias' solution to the eternal tension between virtue and desire is not quite that of Plato, here seen as a member of the circle around Socrates. That circle is full of names familiar from the Platonic dialogues: Kritias, Charmides and Phaedo; and of others, like Xenophon, famed for their own historic deeds.

While the settings of various episodes vary widely, the focus of the story is Athens, in the households of the protagonists and in the bustling streets where Socrates seeks and passes on wisdom.

The Last of the Wine captures the private lives of Athenian citizens, especially the intersection of the individual with the public life of the city that defined the Athenian soul. This clearly ranks among the three best novels Renault wrote, and an argument can be made for it as the best novel ever written about the ancient Greeks.

Image - Capturing Grace: Documentary Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker Dave Ivers

Capturing Grace: Documentary Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker Dave Iverson

Date: Mon, May 04, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
A story about a unique dance performance with Parkinson's patients.

Dave Iverson, Filmmaker

Capturing Grace is an award-winning documentary that tells the unlikely story of what happens when New York's legendary Mark Morris Dance Group joins forces with people with Parkinson's disease to stage a unique performance. Filmed over the course of a year, it's a story about the power of art and the enduring strength of the human spirit. Capturing Grace has screened to sold-out audiences at film festivals around the country and is the winner of Mill Valley Film Festival's Audience Favorite Award and the Starz Denver Film Festival's People's Choice Award.

Filmmaker Dave Iverson is an independent film producer and broadcast journalist. He was also the writer, correspondent and co-producer/director of the 2009 PBS “Frontline” documentary, “My Father, My Brother and Me,” which explored his family’s battle with Parkinson’s as well as the scientific, ethical and political issues raised by this condition. Iverson now serves as contributing editor for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where he produces reports on Parkinson’s research and moderates panel discussions with researchers and Parkinson’s patients around the country.

Join us for an inspirational one-hour documentary and a chance to hear from the filmmaker.

Tue 5/5

Image - Sheldon Helms

Psychological Pseudoscience

Date: Tue, May 05, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
With Sheldon W. Helms, Associate Professor of Psychology

Sheldon W. Helms, Associate Professor of Psychology, Ohlone College; Board of Directors Member, Bay Area Skeptics; Founder, Ohlone Psychology Club Speaker Series

As medical doctors battle homeopathy and anti-vaccine myths, anthropologists counter creationist claims, and dietitians deal with the battle against gluten and GMOs, much of the skeptical community is oddly silent on dubious claims from fringe psychology. In this talk, psychology professor Sheldon W. Helms will discuss unsupported and sometimes dangerously pseudo-scientific claims from the field of psychology, giving a brief history and explanation of each practice or theory, and demonstrating how a simple application of the scientific method reveals its flaws.

Wed 5/6

Image - Humanities West Book Discussion: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Humanities West Book Discussion: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Date: Wed, May 06, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
The classic novel about World War I.

Join us to discuss the classic novel about World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.

Image - Lights, Camera, Take Action; Storytelling for Change

Lights, Camera, Take Action; Storytelling for Change: The San Francisco Green Film Festival

Date: Wed, May 06, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Hear from tenacious, award-winning activist filmmakers.

Mark Decena, Founder, Kontent Films; Writer and Director, Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West
Leah Mahan, Producer and Director, Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek
Kevin White, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Filmmaker's Collaborative San Francisco
Rachel Caplan, Founder and CEO, San Francisco Green Film Festival – Moderator

Environmental action stories often struggle for coverage on major broadcast networks dominated by larger corporate interests. But if not on television, where are we supposed to find the stories that will inspire a new generation of activists? Documentary films are increasingly a powerful way to cut through the noise, connect with people, and build momentum for action on environmental causes.

The evocative documentary film has a purpose that compels its director to grapple with the essence of the art form. What is the magic of its storytelling? How do we reach a wide audience through the medium? Most critically, how can we use this kind of storytelling to change opinions and to effect new policies?

Hear from tenacious, award-winning activist filmmakers who are using this impactful medium to bring us the stories that motivate environmental progress. Panelists will share clips from their films, uncovering their approaches and successes in bringing their difference-making stories to the screen. Plus, get a sneak peek of the upcoming San Francisco Green Film Festival, running from May 28 through June 4.

Image - Willie Brown: Annual Commonwealth Club Lecture

Willie Brown: Annual Commonwealth Club Lecture

Date: Wed, May 06, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Former San Francisco Mayor

Willie Brown, Former Mayor, San Francisco; Former Speaker, California State Assembly

Former San Francisco Mayor Brown will give his annual lecture on national and regional political trends. A two-term mayor of San Francisco, legendary speaker of the California State Assembly and widely regarded as one of the most influential African-American politicians of the late 20th century, Brown has been at the center of California politics, government and civic life for an astonishing four decades.