Upcoming Events

Thu 7/7

Image - Chinatown

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, July 07, 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.

Mon 7/11

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 7/11/16

Date: Mon, July 11, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Smart and lively political discussion

Carson Bruno, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Twitter  
Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS SF and SFGate.com; Twitter  
James Taylor, Ph.D., Director of African American Studies and Professor of Political Science, University of San Francisco; Lecturer, African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, University of California Berkeley

There's no such thing as the mid-summer doldrums when it comes to politics, and this year that's really the case!

We'll 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 7/12

Images - Mary Elizabeth Williams

A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles

Date: Tue, July 12, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Journalist; Author, A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer
In conversation with Peggy Orenstein, Author

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

Journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams was one of the first people in the world to get a new form of treatment for her stage 4 cancer diagnosis that’s revolutionizing cancer care: immunotherapy. In October of 2015, her treatment protocol became the first immunotherapy combination approved by the FDA; it's the same treatment that former President Jimmy Carter underwent.

In her witty, wry, and deeply moving new memoir, A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer, Williams shares her personal journey with malignant melanoma in her early forties and how—thanks to cutting-edge science—she was restored back to health with no signs of disease.

Image - Bay Area inequality

Is the Rising Tide Lifting All Boats? Race and Inclusion in the Bay Area

Date: Tue, July 12, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
How can all Bay Area residents benefit from regional strengths?

Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland
James Bell, Civil Rights Leader; Executive Director, W. Hayward Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice, Fairness and Equality
Manuel Pastor, Demographer and Professor of Sociology, American Studies and Ethnicity, The University of Southern California
Joshua Johnson, Creator/Host, Rockit Fuel Radio Podcast; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—Moderator

This program is part of our special series focused on people, place and power in the Bay Area, sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation.

The Bay Area is at a crossroads. We live in one of the most industrious, exciting places anywhere. We know that our vitality, ingenuity and broad array of cultural identities make the region special. Yet we also know that we have significant challenges. People are worried about jobs, housing, transportation, and about making sure that everybody has the chance to participate, prosper and reach their full potential, regardless of their race or the neighborhood in which they live.

Is it possible to provide true opportunity for all residents of our region, or is the notion of Bay Area exceptionalism just a myth? Join the dialogue.

Image - Steve Blank

Steve Blank: Hacking for Defense

Date: Tue, July 12, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Founder of the Lean Startup movement

Steve Blank, Entrepreneur; Educator, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Columbia University; Twitter
Joe Felter, Senior Research Scholar at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation; Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution—Moderator

In a crisis, national security initiatives move at the speed of a startup, yet in peacetime they default to decades-long cycles. Startups operate with continual speed and urgency and using Lean Startup methodologies have become extremely efficient with resources and time.

Steve Blank, father of the Lean Startup movement, has created a class, Hacking for Defense, that connects the Department of Defense and intelligence community with Silicon Valley’s innovation culture mindset. He will discuss how the class helps the U.S. protect the homeland and Americans around the world and prevents the need to put our brave men and women in harm's way.

Wed 7/13

Image - The Brazen Age

The Brazen Age

Date: Wed, July 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

David Reid, Author, The Brazen Age

The Brazen Age is a sweeping look at the rich culture and turbulent politics of New York City between 1945 and 1950. But David Reid also reaches back to the early 1900s to explore the city’s progressive politics, radical artistic experimentation and burgeoning bohemian culture, to the quickly growing media, movie and radio businesses in the 1920s, and to the influx of talented Europeans in the 1930s, vastly enriching the sciences and the arts. Reid also delves into the city's influence on the Dewey-Truman election, as he captures a complex and powerful moment in the post-war history of New York City.

Image - drought

Is California Entering a Megadrought?

Date: Wed, July 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Explaining our future in these strangely wet and dry times

Noah Diffenbaugh, Professor, Stanford University
Peter Gleick, President, The Pacific Institute

This program was generously underwritten by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation.

California storms and droughts are getting more extreme, according to new research from Stanford examining recent rainfall patterns. The result is a new normal, with fewer average years and more dry times and also more wet times. Other forecasters warn that California might be entering an extended period of drought known as a megadrought. Uncertainty about changing rainfall is a challenge for the state’s water system built on the predictable arrival of snow and rain.

What is California doing to prepare for bigger storms and droughts? How can an average person use water more efficiently and think about the water embedded in their food? Join us for a conversation about California’s water future in strangely wet and dry times driven in part by the high-pressure system hanging off the coast called the "ridiculously resilient ridge."

Image - Don George

The Way of Wanderlust

Date: Wed, July 13, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Don George, Travel Writer; Editor; Author, The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George
In Conversation with Kristina Nemeth, Travel Director, The Commonwealth Club of California

Join noted travel writer and editor Don George for a delightful, world-roaming evening discussing his new book, his life as a travel writer, and opportunities for meaningful travel around the world. Whether you are looking for adventure, culture, food or spirituality, George will offer inspiring stories, insights and advice.

The former travel editor for the San Francisco Examiner and the Chronicle, George founded the Wanderlust section of Salon.com, was global travel editor for Lonely Planet Publications and is currently editor-at-large for National Geographic Traveler. George's work has appeared in numerous publications around the globe, and he is a frequent guest on NPR and CNN, among other TV and radio outlets.

This program includes complimentary light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar from 7-7:40.

Thu 7/14

Image - Matt Cohen

Off the Grid: The Disruptive, Japan-inspired Food Truck Revolution

Date: Thu, July 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Matt Cohen, Founder, Off the Grid Services, LLC

Off the Grid, curator of gatherings of street food and other amenities at Fort Mason Center, the Presidio, and 38 other locations, began in San Francisco six years ago and is a uniquely Bay Area re-creation of Asia’s vibrant night markets. Founder Matt Cohen developed the concept from his time living in Japan, and he added modern elements to build community spaces through temporary events in underused urban spaces using social media and partnerships with small businesses. Cohen will discuss how his experience living in Japan inspired and continues to influence the evolution of Off the Grid’s various businesses.

Image - Finding Your Wine Personality

Finding Your Wine Personality

Date: Thu, July 14, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

The Boisset Wine Ambassadors will guide you through a wine tasting that explores your wine style. They’ll serve as your personal wine concierge—sharing exclusive new releases, the stories behind the wines and the vineyards, and the knowledge to guide you to wines best-suited for your palate. Join us as wine and style unite, and embrace l’art de vivre!

Image - Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

The Computer Science of Human Decisions, with Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Date: Thu, July 14, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Brian Christian, Author, The Most Human Human; Co-author, Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Tom Griffiths, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, UC Berkeley; Co-author, Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These might seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not. Computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such issues for decades. The solutions they've found have much to teach us.

In this interdisciplinary work, author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

Mon 7/18

Image - Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Barbara Boxer: The Art of Tough

Date: Mon, July 18, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM

Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator (D-California); Author, The Art of Tough: Fearlessly Facing Politics and Life; Twitter
Mary Marcy, President, Dominican University of California—Moderator

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

"One goal of this memoir is to inspire people to fight for change. It takes what I call the 'art of tough,' and I've had to do it all my life." —Senator Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer has made her mark, combining compassionate advocacy with outspokenness in a political career spanning more than three decades. Now, retiring from the U.S. Senate, she continues the work to which she's dedicated 30 years in Congress. She will share her provocative and touching recollections of service, and her commitment to the fight for women, families, quality, environmental protection—all in a peaceful world.

Sometimes lauded, sometimes vilified, but always standing tough, Boxer fought for her values even when her personal convictions conflicted with her party or the majority rule.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, July 18, 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 - Kevin Kelly

Wired's Kevin Kelly: The Future of Tech

Date: Mon, July 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, Wired; Author, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future; Twitter

Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In his provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.

Kelly describes these deep trends—flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking and questioning—and demonstrates how they overlap and are codependent on one another. He says that these larger forces will revolutionize the way people buy, work, learn, and communicate with each other. By understanding and embracing them, says Kelly, it will be easier to remain on top of the coming wave of changes and to arrange our day-to-day relationships with technology in ways that bring forth maximum benefits.

Kelly engages people who seek guidance on where their business, industry, or life is heading—what to invent, where to work, in what to invest, how to better reach customers, and what to begin to put into place—as this new world emerges.

Tue 7/19

Image - National Parks

Redefining National Parks and Family Farms in a Changing Climate

Date: Tue, July 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Jordan Fisher Smith, Author, Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature
John Hart, Author, Farming on the Edge: Saving Family Farms in Marin County and An Island in Time: 50 Years as Point Reyes National Seashore

How will national parks adapt to volatile climate? Jordan Fisher Smith, a former park and wilderness ranger in the American West, writes about the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled 20th-century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management. Now climate change is presenting a new set of challenges to America’s best idea.

Family farms face a comparable and different challenge as they struggle to cope with a changing climate. Can farmers, ranchers and environmentalists come together to protect the environment and food supply as species migrate and weather changes? Join a conversation with two writers about how farms and parks are adapting to their new reality. 

Wed 7/20

IMage - Can the Internet of Things Be Green and Safe?

Can the Internet of Things Be Green and Safe?

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Building a safe and clean grid

General Keith Alexander (Ret.), Founder and CEO, IronNet Cybersecurity; Former Head, U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency
Alfred R. Berkeley, Director, World Economic Forum USA; Co-Author, The New Paradigm for Cyber Security

The "Internet of things" promises tech-savvy people the ability to tap a smart phone to unlock your home door to let in your dog walker or house guest. Other possibilities include refrigerators that can order groceries and thermostats that can be controlled remotely. Smart homes outfitted with appliances that send and receive data are related to a smart electric grid, which would similarly send electricity to homes and receive energy generated on solar rooftops or other renewable sources. California law requires the state to source half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. That will present big challenges for a grid that was built to be only one-way. Companies financing and supplying renewable energy are scrambling to figure out how to make the grid both green and safe from cyber attacks.

How California manages the transition may be a model for the country for what to do—or not do. Join us for a conversation about the transition to smart homes and a smart grid and whether smart hackers can exploit the situation to wreak havoc on our connected lives. We also will discuss broader issues of cybersecurity and privacy in a hyper-connected age.

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops.

Image - Regina Sneed

OMG: I Forgot to Plan for a Good Death!

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
Having the final say.

Regina Sneed, Advocate, The California End of Life Option Act

The California End of Life Option Act will be effective on June 9, 2016. The speaker will discuss the options people have for dying based on their choices, including the new option of medical aid in dying. People will also have time to discuss what each of us can do to ensure our wishes can be fulfilled for a death with dignity. The audience will be provided with helpful supplemental material and afforded the opportunity to better understand the choices and protections inherent in this important legislation.

Thu 7/21

Image - Is dating dead

Is Dating Dead? With Author Moira Weigel

Date: Thu, July 21, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Moira Weigel, Author, Labor of Love:The Invention of Dating

"All humans long for others with whom to share our lives,” says Moira Weigel, Ph.D.

Weigel's book Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating takes a deep dive into the practices of dating and mating from the era of courtships and arranged marriages to the current widespread use of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OKCupid by those looking for love.

Daters today often ask “Is dating dead? What happened to chivalry and romance?” Moira instead asks, “What’s the history of dating? Has it been ruined by modern problems? Has it always been complicated?”

Join Moira for a look at the history of dating—from courtship and calling cards to online dating and delayed marriage. Bring a date (we promise there will be plenty to discuss afterward!), come solo or invite friends. Who knows who you’ll meet!

Mon 7/25

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, July 25, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Middle East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, has been meeting for more than eight years. We do not debate; we exchange ideas and opinions. The discussion is considered a perk of membership, but those interested especially, students are welcome to attend.