Upcoming Events

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.

Image - Is the Sky Falling? Asteroids and the Earth

Humanity and the Universe

Date: Wed, May 06, 2015
Time: 7:45 PM
With Ed Lu, Astronaut

Ed Lu, Astronaut; Chairman, B612 Foundation
Brian Hackney, News and Weather Anchor, CBS5 San Francisco - Moderator

Sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors

As heard on "60 Minutes," Astronaut Ed Lu thinks a great deal about the planet earth and other planets, stars and asteroids in the universe. What is the relationship among them? How safe are we from collision and how can we learn from them? Brian Hackney, anchor of CBS 5 news will talk with Ed Lu about these questions and the role that technology now plays in answering these questions.

Thu 5/7

Image - Unretirement: Changing the Way We Think About Work,

Unretirement: Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community and the Good Life

Date: Thu, May 07, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
With author Chris Farrell.

Chris Farrell, Author; Senior Economics Contributor, Marketplace; Economics Commentator, Minnesota Public Radio; Columnist, Bloomberg Businessweek, Next Avenue and Star Tribune

The United States is on the verge of a broad, positive transformation of its economy and society. The old idea of “retirement” – not working – is going away. The boomer generation is increasing embracing “unretirement,” continuing to do some kind of work during the traditional retirement years. Many aging boomers are looking for part-time and contract work or flexible jobs, and starting new entrepreneurial ventures. When done right, their experience, wisdom and continued earnings will benefit the American workplace, dramatically ease financial worries, and enrich our communities and society. Farrell will offer key insights into the economic and social forces behind the unretirement trend, and offer practical advice for navigating this exciting, but unsettled, frontier.

Image - Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Jane Smiley

Date: Thu, May 07, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A journey through mid-century America.

Jane Smiley, Novelist; Author, Early Warning
Peter Fish, Editor-at-Large, Sunset Publishing; Juror, California Book Awards — Moderator

Jane Smiley is the author of more than a dozen lyrical novels – including A Thousand Acres, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction – as well as many works of nonfiction and a series for young adults. A graduate of Vassar College and the University of Iowa, Smiley first began publishing novels and short stories while teaching at Iowa State University. Since her first novel in 1980, Smiley has gone on to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and to receive the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. Her latest book, Early Warning, is set against a Midwestern backdrop, telling the remarkable story of a family from the Iowa heartland and their journey into mid-century America. Don’t miss the chance to hear from this prolific author as she discusses her inspirations, her work and her first trilogy of novels, The Last Hundred Years.

Fri 5/8

Image - Hacking the Climate

Hacking the Climate

Date: Fri, May 08, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Ken Caldeira, Atmospheric Scientist

Ken Caldeira, Atmospheric Scientist, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford
Albert Lin, Professor, UC Davis School of Law
Jane Long, Co-chair, Task Force on Geoengineering, Bipartisan Policy Center

Could the world get so hot that humanity is tempted to break the glass and spray heat-deflecting gases into the sky? The National Academy of Sciences recently issues a report cautiously endorsing research into such techniques known as geoengineering. But big questions remain about who would oversee experiments such as tinkering with clouds so they reflect more of the Sun’s heat and cool the Earth. What group of humans could be trusted with such God-like powers?

Join us for a discussion of hacking the climate to buy some time for humanity.

Mon 5/11

Image - The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

Date: Mon, May 11, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With author William Damon

William Damon, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education; Co-author, The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice

The Power of Ideals thoroughly examines the full range of available research on moral choice and presents a compelling new theory. It takes into account current scientific claims and explores our undeniable capacity to act on noble ideals, to make principled moral choices, and to live lives of generosity, integrity and genuine human connection.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 5/11/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 5/11/15

Date: Mon, May 11, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Informative and engaging commentary.

Mark Z. Barabak, Political Writer, Los Angeles Times; Twitter @markzbarabak
Carla Marinucci, Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter @cmarinucci
Josh Richman, State and National Politics Reporter, Bay Area News Group; Political Blogger, ibabuzz.com/politics; Twitter @Josh_Richman

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).

Tue 5/12

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, May 12, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

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.

Image - An Evening of Culinary Delight with Rebecca Katz & Mollie Katzen

An Evening of Culinary Delight with Rebecca Katz & Mollie Katzen

Date: Tue, May 12, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Science-based culinary delight!

Rebecca Katz, Chef; Educator; Author, The Healthy Mind Cookbook and The Longevity Kitchen
In conversation with Mollie Katzen, Author, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation and the Moosewood Cookbook; Inductee, James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame

A Food Lit event, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation

Healthy eating tends to focus on keeping our bodies physically fit, but what about improving the health of our minds? In The Healthy Mind Cookbook, Rebecca Katz takes cutting-edge brain research on improving cognition, memory and mood and applies it directly to the plate through recipes like cozy lentil soup with delicata squash and chocolate cherry walnut truffles. A nationally recognized culinary translator and nutrition expert, Rebecca Katz’s previous cookbooks include One Bite at a Time, the award-winning The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and The Longevity Kitchen.

Mollie Katzen is listed by The New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time and is a James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame inductee. The author of the iconic Moosewood Cookbook, Katzen is largely credited with having brought vegetarian cuisine into the mainstream.

Join Katz and Katzen for a conversation on science-based culinary delight and promoting happier, healthier minds through food.

Image - Climate Cognition

Climate Cognition

Date: Tue, May 12, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Are humans wired to deal with climate reality?

George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics, UC Berkeley
Kari Norgaard, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon
Per Espen Stoknes, Economist; Psychologist; Author, What We Think About When We Try not to Think About Global Warming

Signs of dangerous climate disruption are everywhere, and yet many people are going about business as usual. What’s up with that? Are humans wired to deal with climate reality?

Building a clean economy can be a positive and empowering story. The key lies at the intersection of economics, psychology and emotional intelligence.

Wed 5/13

Image - The State of California's Water: Now and In The Future

The State of California's Water: Now and In the Future

Date: Wed, May 13, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

California is in the midst of a historic drought, with agriculture, communities, and fish and wildlife struggling with water shortages. At the same time, the state is looking at a future where these conflicts will be exacerbated by climate change, increased population, and other factors. Learn what California is doing at this point in the drought and the plans to prepare for an even more challenging future.

Image - Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

Date: Wed, May 13, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
A conversation about clean energy.

Gina McCarthy, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

As Mitt Romney’s “Green Quarterback,” Gina McCarthy played a key role in helping the Massachusetts Governor craft a plan to protect the climate and grow the economy. Now she’s the point person for President Obama’s effort to do the same thing on a national scale.

The Obama administration’s clean power plan is similar to regulations first proposed in the 1990s. In addition to its impact on U.S. industry, it underpins the U.S. position going into the UN climate summit in Paris later this year. Supporters say it is a crucial move to clean up the air. Critics say it is a job killer and may be unconstitutional.

Join America’s top environmental protector for a conversation about clean energy, the coal wars, green jobs and more.

Image - Leonard Mlodinow: The Evolution of Science

Leonard Mlodinow: The Evolution of Science

Date: Wed, May 13, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Theoretical physicist and author

Leonard Mlodinow, Theoretical Physicist; Author, The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos; Twitter: @lmlodinow

As humans, we have a natural inclination to question how the world around us works. Whether it’s wondering how we stay firmly planted on the ground, or how we came to develop our own intellectual capabilities, this thirst for understanding has been the driving force behind scientific breakthroughs from antiquity through modernity. Mlodinow, himself a ground-breaking physicist, celebrates the curious nature that forms the cornerstone of scientific inquiry, and offers an in-depth look at the history of science from the birth of reasoning to the formation of the defined fields of physics, chemistry and biology. Hear about the great philosophers, scientists and thinkers who have shaped human thought and played integral roles in the evolution of science.

Thu 5/14

Image - Jack Welch

Jack Welch

Date: Thu, May 14, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Author of Winning and The Real-Life MBA

Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric; Co-author, The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career; Twitter @jack_welch

In conversation with Adam Lashinsky, Assistant Managing Editor, Fortune; Editorial Director, Brainstorm Tech; Twitter @adamlashinsky 

In the decade since their blockbuster international bestseller Winning was published, Jack and Suzy Welch have dug deeper into business, traveling the world consulting for organizations of every size and in every industry, speaking before hundreds of audiences, and, in 2010, starting their own fully accredited online MBA program, which now has approximately 1,000 students enrolled.

Going beyond theories, concepts and ideologies, they tackle the real stuff of work today. When you get down to it, they argue, winning in business is all about mastering the gritty, inescapable, make-or-break, real-life dilemmas that define the new economy, the old economy, and everything in between. Welch’s knowledge infuses The Real Life MBA with fresh, immediately applicable, sometimes even counterintuitive lessons about how to create great organizations, build high-powered teams, and forge fulfilling careers in today’s new business environment.

Fri 5/15

Image - The Rise of Islamic Radicalism

The Rise of Islamic Radicalism

Date: Fri, May 15, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With a panel of consuls general

Stefan Schlueter, German Consul General in San Francisco
Andy David, Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest
Paulina Carmona, Consul General of France for San Francisco
Robert Rosenthal, Director, Center for Investigative Reporting - Moderator

The rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, beyond throwing an already destabilized region into deeper chaos, has also served to spread fear across the rest of the world. From North Africa to Western Europe and on to the United States, reactions to the terror militia’s advances have taken many forms, from a surge in violent attacks on Jews and Jewish sites by emboldened Islamic radicals, to a vicious countermovement of Islamophobic violence and rhetoric. Is there any way to reconcile deep-rooted religious, societal and political differences to stop the cycle of violence from spinning further out of control? A distinguished panel of consuls general will confront the polemical issue of growing Islamic radicalization and the increase of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in its wake.

Mon 5/18

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Date: Mon, May 18, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Discuss international issues and plan programs.

All interested Club members are welcome to attend our bimonthly, one-hour planning meetings of the International Relations Member-Led Forum. We focus on Europe, Latin America, Africa and worldwide topics. Join us to discuss current international issues and plan programs for 2015.

Image - Middle East Discussion Group

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, May 18, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion 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 - Charles Murray: Rebuilding Liberty

Charles Murray: Rebuilding Liberty

Date: Mon, May 18, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Using America’s unique civil society to put government back in its box.

Charles Murray, W.H. Brady Scholar, American Enterprise Institute; Author, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission
David Davenport, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution — Moderator

Part of the American Value Series. Underwritten by the Koret Foundation.

Is American freedom being gutted? Acclaimed social scientist and bestselling author Charles Murray says we can no longer hope to roll back the power of the federal government through the normal political process. By his count, the Constitution is broken in ways that cannot be fixed even by a sympathetic Supreme Court, our legal system is increasingly lawless and unmoored from traditional ideas of “the rule of law,” and the legislative process has become systemically corrupt no matter which party is in control.

By the People’s hopeful message is that rebuilding our traditional freedoms does not require electing a right-thinking Congress or president, nor does it require five right-thinking justices on the Supreme Court. Instead, Murray argues that that rebuilding can be done by the American people, using America’s unique civil society to put government back in its box.