Upcoming Events

Thu 5/28

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM

Join a more active Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a two-hour hike up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.

Image - Cuba in the 21st Century: Capitalism or Socialism?
This event is Sold Out

Cuba in the 21st Century: Capitalism or Socialism?

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With professor Juan A. Triana Barros

Juan A. Triana Barros, Professor, Havana University and Polytechnic Institute of Havana

As the U.S. moves toward removing economic sanctions and restoring relations with Cuba, what will be the impact on the Cuban economy? What types of economic reforms have already taken place in Cuba? What is planned in terms of private ownership and a private business sector? How does the country plan to build a new type of Cuban socialism within the context of a global open market? Come hear economics professor Juan Triana discuss the history of Cuba’s socio-economic system and the implications of today’s reforms.

Image - Former San Francisco Giant Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan

Former San Francisco Giant Bengie Molina and Joan Ryan

Date: Thu, May 28, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
An inspiring true story

Bengie Molina, Former MLB Catcher (2007-2010), SF Giants; Co-author, Molina
Joan Ryan, Media Consultant, SF Giants; Co-author, Molina
In conversation with Roy Eisenhardt, Lecturer in Sports Law, UC Berkeley Law School; Former President, Oakland A's

Good Lit event underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation

The inspiring true story of the poor Puerto Rican factory worker, Benjamin Molina Santana, who against all odds raised the greatest baseball dynasty of all time: Molina's three sons – Bengie, Jose, and Yadier – have each earned two World Series rings, which is unprecedented in the sport, and his story is told by one of them, Bengie.

Bengie was the least likely to reach the majors. He was too slow, too sensitive and too small. But craving his beloved father’s respect, Bengie weathered failure after deflating failure until one day he was hoisting a World Series trophy in a champagne-soaked clubhouse. All along he thought he was fulfilling his father’s own failed dream of baseball glory, only to discover it had not been his father’s dream at all.

Mon 6/1

Book Discussion: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen

Date: Mon, June 01, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

A witty, warm and engaging book about Russians and the food obsessions of Soviet life; it is also a culinary history of the Russian Revolution and its consequences. In the great tradition of Russian memoirs, it presents a view of the country's past and culture in the mode of “laughter through tears.” A delicious read complete with recipes.

Image - 84th Annual California Book Awards Ceremony
This event is Sold Out

84th Annual California Book Awards Ceremony

Date: Mon, June 01, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Some of California’s most gifted writers!

The Book Awards is sponsored by Bank of the West.

Since 1931, The Commonwealth Club has honored the Golden State’s literary giants at the California Book Awards. At our special awards ceremony, we will bestow Gold and Silver medals in several categories, including fiction, non-fiction, first fiction, poetry, young adult and juvenile.  Come hear from some of California’s most gifted writers. See you at the ceremony!

GOLD MEDALS Awarded to: 
FICTION: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine, Grove Press
FIRST FICTION: Waiting for the Electricity by Christina Nichol, The Overlook Press
NONFICTION: The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miriam Pawel, Bloomsbury Press
POETRY: The Feel Trio by Fred Moten, Letter Machine Editions
JUVENILE: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm, Random House Books for Young Readers
YOUNG ADULT: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, Cinco Puntos Press
CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLISHING: The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin by Kim Bancroft, Heyday Books 

CALIFORNIANA: San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 by Laura A. Ackley, Heyday Books 

SILVER MEDALS Awarded to: 
FICTION: Orfeo by Richard Powers, W. W. Norton 
FIRST FICTION: The Un-Americans by Molly Antopol, W. W. Norton 
NON FICTION: Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar, Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Tue 6/2

Digital Gold, The History and Future of Bitcoin

Date: Tue, June 02, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With reporter and author Nathaniel Popper

Nathaniel Popper, Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Digital Gold

Believers in Bitcoin see it as a potential basis for a financial system free of banks and governments. So far it has made millions for some people and prison terms for others. National banking regulators are just beginning to set rules and regulations for bitcoin in light of recent scandals and its use by criminal enterprises.

Popper, who has covered the intersections between Wall Street and Silicon Valley for The New York Times, wrote Digital Gold, a best seller on the history of Bitcoin, the digital money and financial technology that is used globally. Join us for a discussion on the history and future of bitcoin and its impact on financial markets.

Wed 6/3

Image - A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author David Downie

David Downie, Author, A Passion for Paris

Downie seeks to uncover why Paris has reigned as the world's most romantic city for over 150 years. In his combined memoir, history text and travelogue, Downie takes us through Paris' secluded parks, artists' studios, cafés and streets—many unchanged in centuries—while walking hand-in-hand with Victor Hugo, Flaubert, George Sand, Baudelaire, Balzac and many others. Downie finds hidden sources of Paris' chic, glamorous allure in its bizarre culture of heroic negativity, and in the carefree atmosphere created by its subversive literature extolling rebellion, mayhem and melancholy.

Image - Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Gary Schlossberg: Forecasting the Economy at Mid Year

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Wells Fargo's Senior Economist

Gary Schlossberg, Senior Economist, Wells Capital Management; Former researcher, U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board

Gary Schlossberg analyzes the economic, financial and investment environments for a fee-based, institutional money manager with over $340 billion in assets under management, Wells Capital Management (WCM), along with groups within Wells Fargo & Co. He also consults with the organization’s customers and internal professionals and is a member of WCM Policy and Liquidity Management strategy committees. Schlossberg is known for his well-packaged presentations on economic business and is quoted in The Financial Press. He also appears on business radio and TV programs in the U.S., Japan and in the U.K. Hear him here next.

Image - Mark Bittman: A Bone to Pick

Mark Bittman: A Bone to Pick

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
A discussion on the complexities of the American food system.

Mark Bittman, Author, A Bone to Pick; Food Columnist, The New York Times; Twitter @bittman
In conversation with Naomi Starkman, Founder and Editor in Chief, Civil Eats; Twitter @NaomiStarkman

Part of the Good Lit series underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman leaves no issue unexamined, scrutinizing everything from agricultural practices to government legislation and fad diets while praising the rise of slow-food movements, better school lunch programs, and even the concept of “healthy fast food.” One of the most impassioned and opinionated observers of the food landscape in the United States, Bittman routinely criticizes the staggering shortfalls of the American food system and the forces that regulate it, making us think twice about how the food we eat is produced, distributed and cooked.

Join Bittman for a discussion on the complexities of the American food system, his ideas about how we can improve upon these issues, and the impact that diet can have on our own health and that of the planet.

Image - Political Comedy for Those Who Think

Political Comedy for Those Who Think

Date: Wed, June 03, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
One of the Bay Area’s best-informed political insiders.

Will Durst, American Political Satirist
In conversation with Phil Matier, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; Commentator, KCBS Radio and CBS 5 Television

Sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors

Acknowledged by peers and press alike as one of the premier political satirists in the country, Will Durst is an author, five-time Emmy nominee, and most especially a stand-up comic. His humor is a patchwork of outraged and outrageous common sense. The New York Times calls him “possibly the best political comic in the country.” Fox News agrees: “He's a great political satirist.” Durst will be in conversation with Phil Matier – one of the Bay Area’s best-informed political insiders.

Thu 6/4

Image - Medical Innovation: How Can We Get the Right Technology at the Right Pri

Medical Innovation: How Can We Get the Right Technology at the Right Price?

Date: Thu, June 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Is medical technology too expensive?

James C. Robinson, Professor of Health Economics and Chair of Berkeley Center for Health Technology, UC Berkeley

Innovation is the engine that drives quality improvement in health care, but also the unsustainable growth in expenditures. The life sciences industry creates a remarkable pipeline of new drugs, devices, and diagnostics, but too often these are used on the wrong patient, at the wrong time, or at the wrong price. In his new book, Purchasing Medical Innovation, Professor Robinson analyzes the roles of the Food and Drug Administration, Medicare and private insurers, physicians, hospitals, and consumers as purchasers of effective but expensive technologies. Is medical technology too expensive? Who should – and will – decide? One of America’s leading health policy experts, Dr. Robinson is noted for bringing real-world experience to policy debates and scientific rigor to the professional and industry world.

I Never Knew There Were so Many Stars: San Francisco Ninth Graders at Camp Mather in the Sierras

Date: Thu, June 04, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Erik Rice, Supervisor, College and Career Readiness, San Francisco Unified School District
Vanessa Varko-Fontana, Community Health Outreach Worker, John O'Connell High School Ninth Grade Students from John O'Connell High School
Laura Page, Arts and Education Program Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission - Moderator

In association with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

In spring of 2015, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department are bringing students from San Francisco's Mission District to Camp Mather in the Sierras. For the second year in a row, students will swim, hike and learn about Hetch Hetchy, the Sierras, our national and state forests and explore mountain environments, stars in the skies and opportunities for work and careers. Join our panel to learn about students' adventures in discovering forests, rivers, lakes, wild life, horse trails and nature's wonders.

Image - The Modern Professional's Tool Kit: A Night of Skill Building

The Modern Professional's Toolkit: A Night of Skill Building

Date: Thu, June 04, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
For the modern job seeker

What are the essential skills employees need to thrive in the 21st century? Join INFORUM as big data gurus, online community managers and experts from a variety of other fields teach the skills that employees need to succeed in the modern working world.

Presentation topics include:

  • “Don’t Panic! How to Embrace Emerging Social Media” by Lauren Girardin, Lauren Girardin Consulting
  • “Pitch Like a Pro: Designing the Perfect Deck” by Jared Bloom, Co-Founder of 4th and King
  • “Deciphering Data and Using Analytics on the Daily” by Benn Stancil, Mode Analytics
  • “The Art and Power of Storytelling” by Tom Nguyen, Product Manager at Adobe

Online Community Manager Panelists include:

  • Susan Tenby of TechSoup Global
  • Eliza Davidson of Udemy.

Finally, enjoy a workshop on “The 5 HTML Tips and Tricks You Need to Know” taught by Courtland Alves, INFORUM Board Chair.

Fri 6/5

Image - Nutrition: The Forgotten, Maligned Science

Nutrition: The Forgotten, Maligned Science

Date: Fri, June 05, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author T. Colin Campbell.

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Cornell University; Director, The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies; Author, The China Study

Nutrition is a misunderstood concept for most people. But newer evidence shows that nutrition intervention – when done right – may resolve a broader spectrum of health problems more effectively than any other medical intervention. Application of this view could prove essential to resolving societal problems like the cost of health care (aka, disease care), environmental degradation, personal health and even incivility.


Women Seeking Success and Reforms

Date: Fri, June 05, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
How modern women might succeed in traditional societies.

Laila El-Sissi, Author, Out from the Shadow of Men
Judith Hornok, Author, Modern Arab Women; Founder, Hornok & Partner, which advises companies to understand business culture in the Gulf region
Aisha Wahab, Afghan-American Human Rights and Political Activist
Dina Ibrahim, Ph.D., Educator; Middle East analyst; Producer, Hope and Fear: Egypt on the Tipping Point – Moderator

Our distinguished panel will discuss how modern women might succeed in traditional societies by setting goals to overcome difficulties, support human rights and excel in the world of business.  El Sissi, a member of the California Writers Club will sign books after the program, at 1:15 p.m.

Sun 6/7

Image - A Sunday with Judy Blume

A Sunday with Judy Blume and Molly Ringwald

Date: Sun, June 07, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Called "the queen of YA" by The Washington Post

Judy Blume, Author

In conversation with Molly Ringwald, Actress, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink; Judy Blume Enthusiast

“My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.” – Judy Blume

Judy Blume, called “the Queen of YA” by The Washington Post, releases her first novel for adults in 16 years, In the Unlikely Event, this June. Blume — prolific, controversial, beloved — is a literary iconoclast whose novels have been among the first to discuss teen sex, masturbation, menstruation and divorce. For three generations of pre-teen girls, Blume’s books have answered the most intimate questions of love, loss, and growing up.

Blume’s latest book, In the Unlikely Event, is based in the supernatural early 1950’s, when three generations of New Jerseyans encounter a fateful string of airplane crashes. Judy Blume will discuss her latest book, her career spanning nearly five decades of writing, children empowerment, and her favorite stories about the young and young at heart.

Mon 6/8

Image - A God That Could Be Real

A God That Could Be Real

Date: Mon, June 08, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A fresh approach to an ancient topic.

Nancy Ellen Abrams, Author 

Many people find it hard to put their faith in a god that is based upon their own beliefs, without any external evidence. As a philosopher of science, lawyer, atheist, environmental activist and wife of the astrophysicist Joel Primack, Nancy Ellen Abrams was one of them – until she surprised herself by asking the question: "Could anything actually exist in our strange and counterintuitive universe that is worthy of the name God?" Shedding traditional religious conceptions, she builds on the idea of emergence, a powerful new scientific concept that cuts across many fields and hones in on the complex relations inherent in our universe. Come experience a fresh approach to an ancient topic that has intrigued scientists and theologians.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 6/8/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 6/8/15

Date: Mon, June 08, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Engaging commentary on political and other major news.

Carson Bruno, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Specializing in California's Political and Policy Landscape; Twitter @CarsonJFBruno 
Melissa Griffin Caen, Contributor, CBS SF (“Mornings with Melissa”) and San Francisco Magazine; Attorney; Twitter @melgriffincaen 
Doug Sovern, Political and Investigative Reporter, KCBS Radio; Twitter @sovernnation 

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 6/9

Image - Avoiding the End-of-Life Medical Conveyer Belt

Avoiding the End-of-Life Medical Conveyor Belt

Date: Tue, June 09, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
The seemingly contradictory specialties of critical care and palliative care.

Jessica Nutik Zitter, M.D., Contributor, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and Huffington Post

In conversation with Mark Zitter CEO, Zitter Health Insights

Thirty percent of Americans die in ICUs hooked up to machines, despite their preferences to the contrary. Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter practices the seemingly contradictory specialties of critical care and palliative care. She sees a medical system geared toward treating individual organ systems rather than caring for whole patients. Dr. Zitter’s New York Times columns illustrate the challenges patients and their families face and provide specific steps individuals can take for better end-of-life experiences. She will be interviewed by Mark Zitter, who co-founded a telephone counseling service for patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Image - Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

Date: Tue, June 09, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Leadership in our changing world.

General Stanley McChrystal (Ret), Author, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal is a unique leader with an impressive list of credits, including the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Widely praised for revolutionizing warfare that fused intelligence and operations, he also created and put into place the counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and an extensive counter-terrorism organization that changed how military agencies interact and operate with each other. His leadership credits during his 34-year career include serving as a four-star general, former leader of the Joint Special Operations Committee and a former Green Beret. Come hear him speak about leadership in our changing world.