Upcoming Events

Thu 11/6

Image - Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, November 06, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM

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 - Zen's Chinese Heritage

Zen's Chinese Heritage

Date: Thu, November 06, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A deep exploration of the spiritual and political origins of Chinese Chan.

Andy Ferguson, Chinese Language and Literature Expert; Author, Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings

Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism occupies a unique position in Chinese society. The religion’s history is deeply intertwined with Chinese philosophy and politics. How has this ancient teaching survived China’s explosion of consumerism? Are existing Chinese Chan temples true repositories of an authentic tradition, or are they empty storefronts for a philosophy forgotten or misunderstood?

Andy Ferguson is the author of Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings, a large compendium of the ancient teachings of more than a 150 ancient Chan masters from China’s “Golden Age” of Chan. His other book, Tracking Bodhidharma, is a deep exploration of the spiritual and political origins of Chinese Chan. In that text, Ferguson demonstrates that the religion’s philosophical origins are as surprising as its history of political influence, an influence with a bizarre relationship with some of the 20th century’s most tragic events.

Image - Abbas Milani: The Rise of ISIS and the Changing Landscape of the Middle East

Abbas Milani: The Rise of ISIS and the Changing Landscape of the Middle East

Date: Thu, November 06, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM

Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies, Stanford University

Milani is one of the founding co-directors of the Iran Democracy Project and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Until 1986, he taught at Tehran University’s Faculty of Law and Political Science, where he was also a member of the board of directors of the university’s Center for International Relations. For eight years, he was a visiting research fellow in University of California, Berkeley’s Middle East Center. Come hear one of the world’s top Middle East experts give his take on how ISIS will ultimately impact the region and the U.S.

Fri 11/7

Image - The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

Date: Fri, November 07, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Miriam Pawel, Author, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

On November 9, 1984, at the invitation of then-President Shirley Temple Black, Cesar Chavez gave a memorable lecture at the Club. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Miriam Pawel will describe the details of the complex life of Chavez, one of the great iconic leaders of the 20th century, one of the most celebrated Latinos in U.S. history and one of the most effective labor organizers California has ever seen. Now that Chavez is once again the focus of public attention, a balanced view of his contributions and his difficulties is all the more valuable.

Mon 11/10

Image - 33 Artists in 3 Acts: Politics, Kinship and Craft

33 Artists in 3 Acts: Politics, Kinship and Craft

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Sarah Thornton, Author  

Sarah Thornton is a sociologist of art and a regular contributor to The Economist, whose bestseller Seven Days in the Art World explored the cutthroat yet glamorous cultural phenomenon of the contemporary art market. She will report the stories resulting from worldwide interviews about “what is an artist?” from her latest book, 33 Artists in 3 Acts, concerning politics, kinship and craft. Thornton writes that those narratives “demarcate the ideological border that differentiates artists from non-artists, or ‘real artists’ from unimpressive ones.” Artists interviewed include Jeff Koons, Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, and Cindy Sherman, among others from 14 countries on 5 continents.

Image - Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Monday Night Philosophy

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Dwight Stanford Professor of American Foreign Relations, San Diego State University; National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Monday Night Philosophy dives into the history of U.S. foreign policy. Most historians believe the U.S. is an empire; the past two presidents and most of the public disagree. What does it matter? Hoffman offers a challenging new interpretation of America's past with important implications for the way forward.

Tue 11/11

Image - Robert Baer

Robert Baer

Date: Tue, November 11, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM
Former CIA Operative

Robert Baer, Former CIA Operative; National Security Affairs Analyst, CNN; Author, See No Evil and The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins

For over 20 years, Baer served as a CIA operative in the Middle East and Europe. His life and personal experiences inspired George Clooney’s Oscar-winning performance in the movie Syriana. Baer examines the historical and political context of assassinations and shares his foreign policy and security insights. He also reveals what it was like working as an agent in some of the most dangerous and volatile regions in the world.

Wed 11/12

Image - Jamie Metzl: Are China and the U.S. Headed for a Genetic Arms Race?

Jamie Metzl: The US-China Rivalry at the Genetic Frontier

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Jamie Metzl, Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Novelist and Asia expert Jamie Metzl's new novel, Genesis Code, tells of a future genetic arms race between China and the United States. It is fiction – for now – but Metzl, who worked in the Clinton National Security Council and State Department and is the former executive vice president of the Global Asia Society, will discuss how the U.S.-China rivalry, marked by tensions in the South and East China Seas, in cyberspace, outer space and elsewhere, is heating up around the world. With the science of human genetic engineering rapidly advancing, there is a significant possibility that today's science fiction will be tomorrow's reality and that great power interests might soon dictate the course of genetically modified human evolution.

Image - The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 5:15 PM
Charles Durrett, AIA; Architect; Author

Charles DurrettAIA; Architect; Author, The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living; Co-author, A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves

Today we can text our sibling to find out what they are having for lunch in Paris, but we don’t know the name of our next-door neighbor nor his or her birthday – unless you’ve looked up him or her on PoliceReport.com – because shouldn’t we know who our neighbor is? It’s only prudent to be precautious. Learn how seniors are countering the pathologies in our society today by affecting their personal lives and collective lives and affecting society positively by planning new cohousing communities. They bring environmental ethics, justice, village life – community to the table. A real work by real people with real values and real lives who make an environment that responds to their real needs. How romantic is community? Very; everyone is talking about it in the abstract. How realistic is community? Very; there are lots of folks around North America who have decided that this important complement in our lives – community – needs to be revived. Come learn about this momentous social movement from a prime mover.


Thu 11/13

Image - Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Date: Thu, November 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Richard Hytner, Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

Richard Hytner, Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi; Adjunct Associate Professor of Marketing, London Business School; Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

The key to success lies in getting to the top, right? Wrong! It’s time to celebrate the second-in-command. These are the V.P’s, COOs, First Lieutenants and First Violins whose influence can determine the fate of countries and companies: Merlin to King Arthur, Al Gore to Bill Clinton, Rasputin to the Russian royal family. Learn how influence, authority and power can be found in much more interesting places than behind the CEO’s desk.

Fri 11/14

Image - Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Profession

Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Professional Sports

Date: Fri, November 14, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Discussion with Leland Faust and Duane Kuiper

Leland Faust, Founder and Chairman, CSI Capital Management; Member, Sporting News Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports
Duane Kuiper, Emmy Award-winning Play-by-play Announcer, San Francisco Giants; Former Major League Baseball Player, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants
Vida Blue, Former Pitcher, Oakland A's, SF Giants; Cy Young Award, MVP, Six-Time All Star
Kevin O’Malley, President, Tech Talk/Studio – Moderator

Get an inside look at how money shapes the culture of professional sports and influence decisions both on and off the field. Learn from the insiders how the mixture of entertainment and money results in today’s complex professional sports industry and the range of players’ salaries.

Mon 11/17

Image - Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A personal discussion about working in male-dominated fields.

Hilary K. Seligman, M.D., MAS, Associate Professor in Residence, Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF
Diane Wara, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF
Eva Cole, Student, Holy Names High School, Oakland; Alumna, Girls Who Code
Sara Seims, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Population and Reproductive Health Program, Packard Foundation – Moderator

How and why do women decide to pursue careers in science and technology? What is the reaction of their family, friends, teachers and others? This panel of three women at three different points in their careers – early, middle and advanced – will discuss the experiences that have supported and challenged their career pursuits. Come learn from their stories and hear ideas about how to attract more women to areas of science where they are still greatly under-represented, such as engineering and mathematics.

Image - John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
A grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world.

John Cleese, Actor; Writer; Producer; Author, So, Anyway…
In conversation with Adam Savage, Host, “Mythbusters”

Join Cleese as he takes us on a grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town to the pinnacle of comedy and worldwide success.

With his signature characters – the Minister of Silly Walks and the owner (and would-be returner) of a dead parrot – Cleese's work with Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers has become legendary. His hit films Monty Python and the Holy GrailLife of Brian and A Fish Called Wanda, and his memorable roles in James Bond and Shrek have put him in a class of his own. From his hilarious tweets and new memoir, hear more from this towering comedic genius.

Tue 11/18

Image - Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Date: Tue, November 18, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
The challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

James Redford, Chair, Redford Center Board; Producer, Watershed
John Shepard, Co-Interim CEO and Senior Advisor, Sonoran Institute
Jill Tidman, Executive Director, Redford Center; Producer, Watershed
Francesca Vietor, Commissioner, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Program Director, San Francisco Foundation

For more than 6 million years, the Colorado River has served as the lifeblood of the American West, including what is now California. Today the river runs dry 70 miles before it reaches its delta and the sea. However, in May 2014, the river reached the delta and sea briefly for the first time in decades. Learn how Raise the River is marshaling support for the Colorado and raising awareness to restore a great national treasure by bringing back life to the delta region’s wetlands and marshes, and provide much-needed help to western communities in the United States and Mexico. Join us for a discussion on the challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

Wed 11/19

Image - Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Tr

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Truth

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor

Mark Twain wanted to write a completely candid autobiography, without "shirkings of the truth," so he decided to speak from the grave 100 years after his death. The Mark Twain Papers Project at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has fulfilled that desire. Editor Smith will discuss Twain's numerous observations about the difficulty of speaking the truth, and the strategies he adopted to remove his inhibitions, illustrating her talk with passages he suppressed during his lifetime. Come hear Mark Twain's "whole, frank mind" highlighted by his characteristic blend of humor and ire.

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore the neighborhood surrounding the Club's future home.

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 - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, 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.

Image - Increased Patient Communication Improves Health

Power to the Patient: A Survivor's Perspective on Health Care

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Technologies to allow people to take an active role in their health-care journey.

Michael O’Neil, Jr., Founder & Chief Executive Officer, GetWellNetwork

An informed patient is a better patient. As a cancer survivor, Michael O’Neil, Jr., founder and CEO of GetWellNetwork, focuses on the importance of engaging, educating and empowering patients in the management of their own health.

Following his challenging personal experience, O’Neil was motivated to change the role of the patient and introduce a new approach to the delivery of health care. Founded on the idea that a person should never be on the outside looking in when it comes to their own health, GetWellNetwork builds technology that connects patients and families with caregivers, and enables people to take an active role in their health-care journey – whether they’re sick or well.

Image - Andy Cohen: The Star-Studded Life

Andy Cohen in Conversation with Rashida Jones

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Host, “Watch What Happens: Live”

Andy Cohen, Host, “Watch What Happens: Live”; Author, The Andy Cohen Diaries; Executive Producer, The Real Housewives Franchise
In Conversation with Rashida Jones, Actress, Parks and RecreationThe Office and more

“My new book is my reality show, in print.” – Andy Cohen

The man who made a career as a prince of pop-culture strikes again with his new book, The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year, a follow-up to his New York Times best seller. Imagine a day in the life of Andy Cohen. It’s busy. It’s exciting. It’s dramatic. Andy’s new book will chronicle his day-to-day life for a single year, from behind-the-scenes looks at “Watch What Happens: Live” to his favorite day-time hang-out spots to late nights with wild celebrity friends. Cohen will tell all about such celebrities as Lady Gaga and such events as Oscar weekend. Get an inside look at the life of one of the most exciting men in show business when Cohen joins INFORUM to talk book, show and life.

Thu 11/20

Be in the Know: Plans for the Commonwealth Club's New Headquarters Building

Date: Thu, November 20, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Exciting architecture and sustainable design!

Panelists from key design firms on the project
Piper Kujac
, Club Representative and Construction Project Manager – Moderator

A special presentation about the exciting architecture and sustainable design for The Commonwealth Club of California’s new offices on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Join key designers from Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, Tipping Mar structural engineering, ARUP mechanical engineering, and Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc. acoustics and audio/visual design for a preview and discussion of the Club’s new gathering place for members and programs.