Upcoming Events: Silicon Valley

Wed 9/28

Image - Francisco Jiménez and Lalo Alcaraz

Francisco Jiménez

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 7:30 PM
Meet this year's John Steinbeck Award winner

Francisco Jiménez, Poet; Author; and Educator
In Conversation with Lalo Alcaraz, Nationally Syndicated Artist and Cartoonist

Born in Mexico in 1943, Jiménez spent much of his childhood moving around California with no permanent home or regular schooling. Against incredible odds he went on to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor at his alma mater, Santa Clara University.

At his family's urging he began working on a book about his childhood and in 1997 published The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. Jiménez went on to publish three more books: Breaking Through, Reaching Out, and Taking Hold, all with Spanish translations. Widely read in schools, Jiménez’s books have given voice to families like his and introduced a generation of American children to the plight of migrant laborers in our country. In vivid language, Jiménez highlights the humanity and strength that exist in the face of poverty and discrimination.

Hear more about his amazing story as he receives this year's John Steinbeck award. The John Steinbeck Award is sanctioned by the Steinbeck estate and is offered by the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.

Thu 9/29

Image - Rorke Denver

Rorke Denver: U.S. Navy SEAL Commander

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
What does it mean to be a hero?

Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL Commander; Mentor, "American Grit"; Author, Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation; Twitter:

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

Denver has run every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs and led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. He starred in the 2012 hit film Act of Valor, based on real-life SEAL missions, and most recently served as a mentor coach on Fox’s "American Grit."

Denver shares his insights and experiences and addresses what it means to be a hero, why we fight and what can be learned from the battlefield.

Thu 10/6

Image - cooking

Chef Ryan Pollnow and a Party to Benefit The Commonwealth Club

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Benefit for the Club

Join us at Williams-Sonoma in San Mateo for a shopping night benefiting The Commonwealth Club of California in celebration of the grand opening of their new store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center.

• 15% of the purchases made during the shopping night event will go directly to The Commonwealth Club.

Enjoy a Basque Pintxos party and Gin & Tonic Bar with Chef Ryan Pollnow of San Francisco’s Aatxe.

Civility and Difficult Conversations in Political and Public Discourse

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How to have difficult conversations

Janet Flammang, Professor Emerita; Author; Table Talk: Building Democracy One Meal at a Time

In the current political climate, it is important for all of us to learn how to have difficult conversations. Flammang helps us understand why political conversations are so difficult and how table talk provides everyday opportunities to practice and teach the art of conversation.

Mon 10/10

Image - Larry Brilliant

Larry Brilliant: Sometimes Brilliant

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
The inspiring life and journey of a local hero.

Larry Brilliant, Chairman, Skoll Global Threats; Former Executive Director, Google.org; Author, Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History; Twitter:

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

Brilliant’s life has taken him across continents and countercultural movements. He is responsible for some of the most significant medical, spiritual and social achievements of the past century, working with leaders and icons including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Wavy Gravy, the Dalai Lama, and President Barack Obama.

Brilliant was the executive director of Google.org and chaired the Presidential Advisory Committee on Bio-Surveillance. He lived in India for more than 10 years working as a United Nations medical officer, where he played a key role in the World Health Organization smallpox eradication program in South Asia. He also co-founded The Seva Foundation, an international NGO whose programs and grantees have given back sight to more than 3.5 million blind people in more than 20 countries.

Learn more about Brilliant’s inspiring life and journey.

Tue 10/18

Image - Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek: Author and Optimist

Date: Tue, October 18, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Embrace working together to overcome challenges

Simon Sinek, Author, Start with Why and Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration; Twitter

Sinek's newest book, Together is Better, is a celebration of that simple human idea that we are better when we help each other than we are when we work alone.

Too often, we avoid asking for help when we need it or refuse to accept it when it’s offered for fear that it will make us look weak or put us or our job at risk. We often keep self-doubt to ourselves instead of turning to someone we trust for inspiration.

Together is Better has combined some of Sinek’s favorite quotes, amazing illustrations, storytelling and commentary. In the simplest way possible, Sinek reminds us what it means to be a leader, the courage it takes to ask for help and the value of working together. It is a story that illustrates the need for leaders to foster environments in which trust and cooperation can thrive.

Sinek, the best selling author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, has taught companies and employees around the world how to inspire people. He is known for popularizing the concept of “Why,” and his TED talk is the third most-watched presentation with more than 27 million views.

Wed 10/19

Image - Pascal Lee and Andy Weir and Mary Roach

Exploring Mars with Pascal Lee, Andy Weir and Mary Roach

Date: Wed, October 19, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How to turn the Earthling into the Martian.

Dr. Pascal Lee, Co-founder, Mars Institute; Planetary Scientist, SETI Institute; Principal Investigator of the Haughton-Mars Project, NASA Ames Research Center; Author, Mission: Mars
Andy Weir, Author, The Martian
Mary Roach, Author, Packing for Mars—Moderator

Sooner or later, humans will walk on the Red Planet. Weir and Lee want it to be “sooner,” and they have deep insights—both technical and psychological—about how to make it happen. Join Lee and Weir for a spirited conversation on the promise and peril of humanity’s first in-person exploration of an alien planet.

Thu 10/20

Image - Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: Fighting for Democracy

Date: Thu, October 20, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Of the people, by the people

Ralph Nader, Activist; Author, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think; Twitter:

In this unprecedented election year, Nader makes an inspired case about how he thinks our country can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by big business or the wealthy few.

Nader has fought for decades to give Americans back their political voice. He draws from his own experiences and shares his core political beliefs on how we can protect our rights to ensure democracy for all.

Wed 10/26

Image - Origami

Robert Lang: Origami — Between the Folds of Art and Technology

Date: Wed, October 26, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Science meets art

Roberg Lang, Origami Artist; Physicist

Origami is the centuries-old Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. Lang, a world-renowned origami artist, has taken this traditional art form one step further.

Lang is one of the pioneers of cross-disciplinary origami that combines mathematics, science, technology, engineering and design with origami. His applications have been used on medical devices, air bag designs and expandable space telescopes.

With 50 patents awarded and pending on semiconductor lasers, optics and integrated optoelectronics, Lang has more than 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed and his artwork has been shown around the world in exhibits at the MoMA in New York, Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and the Nippon Museum of Origami in Japan.

Hear more about the blending of art and technology what drives him to create such inspirational masterpieces.

Thu 10/27

Image - Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard: Founding Patagonia and Living Simply

Date: Thu, October 27, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Tales of an eco-friendly businessman

Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia, Inc.; Author, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

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

Chouinard is a legendary climber, surfer and environmentalist. He is also the reluctant entrepreneur who founded Patagonia, Inc., one of the most respected eco- and socially conscious companies in the world.

To celebrate the re-release of his best selling memoir, Chouinard recounts his early days of selling climbing equipment out of his car and explains how that led to accidentally creating a multi-million dollar sporting goods company committed to environmentally responsible design and production.

Through Patagonia he has led the way with innovations in organic cotton, sustainable wool and traceable down. However, Chouinard has not been limited by textiles. He has also created a venture fund called 20 million & Change and spun out Patagonia Provisions, reflecting his belief that food and agriculture will help solve our biggest environmental challenges.

As companies and consumers seek a more sustainable economy, Chouinard will discuss how entrepreneurs can create greatness and achieve net positive social impact at a point where doing less-bad is no longer good enough.

Tue 11/1

Image - Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel: Greed, Murder, and Arson in California's Vineyards

Date: Tue, November 01, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Time for wine crime

Frances Dinkelspiel, Author, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California

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

In 2005 a massive warehouse fire broke out in Vallejo, destroying 4.5 million bottles of California’s finest wine. The damage came out to be $250 million, making it the largest destruction of wine in history, and it included priceless bottles of Port and Angelica made by Dinkelspiel’s great-great grandfather. An investigation revealed that the fire was deliberately set by Mark Anderson, a skilled con man and thief. What’s even harder to believe is this wasn’t the first time wine was at the center of crime and destruction.

Dinkelspiel traces the history of California wine and unravels this story of greed, violence and obsession.

Wed 11/2

What's Next for Diridon Station?

Date: Wed, November 02, 2016
Time: 12:30 PM
Building a transportation hub

Melissa DuMond, Director of Planning and Integration, California High-Speed Rail Authority
Leyla Hedayat, Project Manager, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
Jessica Zenk, Associate Transportation Specialist, City of San Jose

More than $8 billion in transportation investments will turn Diridon Station into one of the most-connected places in the country, but in order to start running BART trains by 2025 and high-speed rail by 2029, plans will have to move quickly. Decisions made in the next several months will shape the South Bay for the next century.

Learn more about what is in the works for this crucial hub.