Upcoming Events

Mon 3/20

Image - Howard French, George Koo and George Lewinski

The U.S. and China in 2017

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
China chooses its path forward

Howard French, Former New York Times Asia Correspondent; Author, Everything Under the Heavens: Empire, Tribute and the Future of Chinese Power
George Koo, Ph.D., Regular Contributor, Online Asia Times; Chairman, Burlingame Global Foundation
George Lewinski, Former Foreign Editor, "Marketplace"—Moderator

For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role has been set aside, asserts panelist Howard French, who says China has revealed plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Hear from French and China analyst George Koo, who says that whatever China’s plans, following a western template to become a global hegemon is not a likely outcome, nor will “false modesty” necessarily find any validity. Come for a fascinating discussion about the historical context of China’s actions and what the future holds for the U.S. relationship with China under the Trump administration.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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.

Tue 3/21

Image - Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai

Beethoven in China

Date: Tue, March 21, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
How Beethoven became a cultural icon in China

Jindong Cai, Associate Professor of Music (performance), Stanford University; Orchestra Conductor; and Co-Author, Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People's Republic

Sheila Melvin, Co-Author, Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People's Republic

Beethoven in China demonstrates that there is no parallel to the depth and breadth of Beethoven's integration into the culture, politics and private passions of China. Schoolchildren routinely read Beethoven, My Great Model and busts of Beethoven are a common sight. Cai's and Melvin's research reveals that the process by which Beethoven became a Chinese icon was tumultuous, starting with a 1906 article by Li Shutong, who referred to him as The Sage of Music, and held him up as a moral exemplar for a struggling nation trying to prevent a slide into chaos. His stoicism in the face of paternal mistreatment and increasing deafness resonated with a culture focused on working hard, on "eating bitterness," in order to achieve greatness. That stoicism proved crucial when Mao had musicians arrested and executed during the Cultural Revolution. But at Tiananmen Square students accompanied their protests with his "Ode to Joy" anyway.

Image - Nancy Pfund speaks about investing

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Nancy Pfund on Impact Investing

Date: Tue, March 21, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
How money can matter

Nancy Pfund, Founder, DBL Partners
David Bank; Editor, Impact Alpha—Moderator

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is a series of conversations supported by Bank of the West.

Whether you’re an investor, an entrepreneur or a consumer, we all make decisions about how to spend our money every day. How do you decide where to spend, and how to make the biggest impact through what products, companies, efforts and issues you support?

Join Nancy Pfund, founder of DBL Partners (Double Bottom Line), in conversation with David Bank of Impact Alpha, as they demystify the world of impact investing. For starters, what is impact investing? It turns out that financial success can and does go hand-in-hand with social change, and DBL Partners is part of a growing movement demonstrating this possibility every day. DBL Partners' approach to venture capital is two-pronged: They achieve high venture capital returns, and they also incorporate a second bottom line by working with companies they invest in to create economic, social and environmental impact. Two birds with one stone: profit and positive impact.

Nancy and her team are innovators who are setting the standard for other investors and companies to consider success beyond the single-profit bottom line. Today, organizations such as SolarCity, Pandora and Patagonia build social impact into their business plans from the very beginning because of leadership by impact investors, and the ripple effect is real. Who says your dollars can’t count for double? Come learn how impact investing is changing the game when it comes to making money matter.

Join us afterward for a reception—enjoy a glass of wine or a snack while recapping what you just learned and meeting new people!

Image - Carrie Nugent

Carrie Nugent: Asteroid Hunters

Date: Tue, March 21, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Protecting Earth

Carrie Nugent, Staff Scientist, IPAC/Caltech; Host, Spacepod; Author, Asteroid Hunters

What are asteroids, and where do they come from? And more important, what would happen if one hit Earth? Dr. Nugent is an asteroid hunter working to help map our cosmic neighborhood. She is part of NASA’s NEOWISE mission team, using a space-based infrared telescope to discover, track and characterize asteroids.

With detection being the key to preventing an asteroid impact, learn more about the scientists who are working to prevent the unthinkable from happening.

Thu 3/23

Image - San Francisco Ferry Building

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 23, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

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 tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - Anthony Iton

Zip Code, not Genetic Code: The California Endowment's 10 year, $1 Billion Initiative

Date: Thu, March 23, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Neighborhoods and health

Anthony B. Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities, The California Endowment; Former Director and County Health Officer, Alameda County Public Health Department; Former Director, Health and Human Services, and School Medical Advisor, City of Stamford, Connecticut

Where you live shouldn’t predict how long you’ll live, but it does. In many California cities, there is a 15– 20 year life expectancy difference between neighborhoods and that gap is growing. Despite all of the charged political rhetoric about repealing “Obamacare,” this life expectancy difference cannot be explained by lack of access to health care; in fact, research shows that health care is responsible for only about 15 percent of health status. When it comes to your health, your zip code is more important than your genetic code. Why?

Using data to study this phenomenon, Dr. Iton has concluded that we cannot address this problem through the traditional medical model. He and his colleagues at The California Endowment have designed a $1 billion, 10-year, multi-site initiative called Building Healthy Communities (BHC) which is designed to break the deadly link between zip code and life expectancy. BHC is based on the recognition that low-income Californians are often shrouded in a thick fog of unremitting chronic stress. Because of a legacy of racial and economic segregation, anti-immigrant policies and a host of other historical “isms," there are many communities in California where residents are mired in environments that conspire to injure their health. These environments lack basic health protective amenities like parks, grocery stores, decent schools, functioning transportation systems, affordable and decent housing, living wage jobs, and even potable water in some instances. In these environments, community residents are forced to constantly navigate multiple risks without the benefit of significant resources. These neighborhood and community environments are not natural, they are manmade and can be unmade.

Building Healthy Communities is an effort that enlists the very residents who have been the targets of exclusion, stigma and discrimination in remaking their environments through holding local, regional and state systems accountable for creating healthy and equitable community environments. The BHC theory of change is about building community capacity (increasing social, political and economic power and changing the narrative about health) to change policy and systems, in order to create healthy environments that will (over time) improve health status.

Six years into BHC, the results have been dramatic. Learn how the Building Healthy Communities model can help improve the health of our own communities and families.

Image - The White House

Trump's First 100 Days: Part Two

Date: Thu, March 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Evaluating the crucial first few months of the new administration

Panelists TBA

Marisa Lagos, Reporter, California Politics and Government, KQED—Moderator

How will President Trump’s 100-day action plan impact our domestic and foreign affairs, health care, education, environment, immigration, economic and trade policies? Who are the new people leading the country and how will they impact public policy? What role will all forms of media play as they cover the new administration? Join The Commonwealth Club and KQED for part two of a four-part series of programs that address the first 100 days of the Trump administration and how this period will shape America over the next four years and beyond. 

Mon 3/27

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, March 27, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, has been meeting monthly for about nine years. We are not a debate group.

The Spring 2017 Report on the Sierra Nevada's Rain, Snowpack, Trees, Water, Ecosystems and Climate Change

Date: Mon, March 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Environmental check-in

Scott Tangenberg, Acting Forest Supervisor, Stanislaus National Forest
Patrick Koepele, Executive Director, Tuolumne River Trust
Michael Carlin, Deputy General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Bob Kingman, Assistant Executive Officer, Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Join our distinguished panel for an up-to-date report on the Sierra Nevada mountains, habitats, water, rivers, trees, ground cover and the harsh economic impacts caused by fire, degradation and the cycle of climate changes. After the 2016-17 winter of rain and snowfall, where are we now in the climate cycle and the cycle of destruction, renewal and regrowth for our mountains, valleys, rivers and economies?

Image - P.J. O'Rourke
This event is Sold Out

P.J. O'Rourke: Has America Gone Crazy?

Date: Mon, March 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Making sense of the 2016 election

P.J. O’Rourke, H.L. Mencken Research Fellow, Cato Institute; Author, How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016; Twitter

P.J. O'Rourke says no comedian could have written the joke that the recent election cycle has been. As celebrated political satirist, journalist, and diehard Republican O’Rourke put it in his endorsement of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1692.” Come hear O'Rourke's uniquely humorous take on the election, on Donald Trump (whom he calls "Landlord of the Flies") and on America in 2017.

Tue 3/28

Image - Marty Brounstein

The Courage and Compassion to Do the Right Thing

Date: Tue, March 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM

Marty Brounstein, Author, Two Among the Righteous Few: A Story of Courage in the Holocaust

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

Come hear a true interfaith story of courage, compassion and rescue during the Holocaust. A Catholic couple in the Netherlands, despite great risk and danger, helped save the lives of at least two dozen Jews from certain death during World War II. Brounstein will also explain the meaningful personal connection that inspires him to tell and retell the story of their heroic actions.

Image - Chris Hayes

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes: The Two Americas

Date: Tue, March 28, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
The colony and the nation

Chris Hayes, MSNBC Host, "All in with Chris Hayes"; Editor at Large, The Nation; Author, A Colony in a Nation; Twitter

Emmy Award–winning news anchor and New York Times best-selling author Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a colony and a nation. He says America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a post-racial world, but nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality hasn’t improved since 1968. Hayes contends that our country has fractured in two: the colony and the nation. In the nation, we venerate the law. In the colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. He asks how and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution? Come hear Hayes’ insights on the threats to American democracy and how to preserve justice.

Wed 3/29

Image - LGBTQ photo

LGBTQ Rights and Religious Freedom: What's at Stake?

Date: Wed, March 29, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Religious freedom laws and minority rights

Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, (Ret.); Chair, Santa Clara County Jail Commission—Moderator 
Additional Panelists TBA

What are the implications of potential executive orders and religious freedom legislation on the LGBTQ community and beyond? Hear from a diverse panel of leaders, including Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and one of the key voices in the fight against HB2 in North Carolina. This conversation is in partnership with San Francisco Pride.

Thu 3/30

Image - R. Paul Herman and Chinwe Onyeagoro

What Do Millennials Want in Their Portfolios, 401(k)s and Workplaces?

Date: Thu, March 30, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Millennials and investing

R. Paul Herman, CEO, HIP Investor Ratings + Portfolios; Author, The HIP Investor, Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World
In conversation with Chinwe Onyeagoro, President, Great Place to Work Institute

With 70 million Millennials now the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, how do they stay satisfied in the workplace, while the company builds its bottom line? With a trust-based workplace, Millennials thrive in their jobs, while companies can also outperform financially, according to Chinwe Onyeagoro, Great Places to Work.

With a sustainable, fossil-free 401(k), Millennials are more engaged, innovative and can build a better world while saving for their future. Going beyond traditional investing, Millennials can use their forthcoming $40 trillion of inherited wealth to improve the health, wealth, earth, equality and trust of the world via their investing, according to Paul Herman, HIP Investor. Learn how to unleash the excitement of Millennials in the workplace.

R. Paul Herman is a globally recognized leader in impact investing, impact ratings and impact-themed portfolios. Herman founded HIP Investor 10 years ago to show that investments in companies that solve human, social and environmental problems can be more profitable and less risky than those that are extractive of people, natural resources and trust. HIP Investor rates more than 30,000 global issuers of stocks and bonds, and it also enables ratings of thousands of mutual funds and 401(k) plan fund choices. Herman is an alumni of Wharton, McKinsey, CSC Index, Ashoka and Omidyar Network. Herman is an advisor to SASB, Net Impact and Sustainable Brands. Herman authored The HIP Investor book, which is part of the curricula for 26 global MBA, MPA and university programs in finance, capital markets and innovation.

Chinwe Onyeagoro serves as president of Great Place to Work. She works with executives in successfully executing business strategy through developing high-trust, high performance cultures. Her executive advisory work with Great Place to Work includes multi-billion dollar technology, telecom, financial services, and bio-pharma companies. She has worked for two top management consultancies (McKinsey & Company and The Monitor Group). She serves on the boards of private equity firms and lending institutions that have invested over $1 billion in small and medium enterprises. She holds an A.B. in economics and East Asian studies from Harvard University and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Tue 4/4

Image - Grace Cathedral

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, April 04, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

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 - Annie Jacobsen

Journalist Annie Jacobsen: ESP and the U.S. Government

Date: Tue, April 04, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The 40-year secret project to use psychics

Annie Jacobsen, Former Contributing Editor, Los Angeles Times Magazine; Author, Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis; Twitter

Annie Jacobsen is an investigative journalist and bestselling author who writes about war, weapons, U.S. national security and government secrecy. Her Area 51 was an international best seller and The Pentagon’s Brain was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Now, she has written what she says is the definitive history of the military's decades-long investigation into mental powers and phenomena. Jacobsen says that for more than 40 years, the U.S. government has researched extrasensory perception, using it in attempts to locate hostages, fugitives, secret bases and downed fighter jets; to divine other nations' secrets; and even to predict future threats to national security. The agencies involved include the CIA, DIA, NSA, DEA, Navy, Air Force, Army and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, for the first time, Jacobsen tells the story of these radical, controversial programs, using never-before-seen declassified documents as well as exclusive interviews with more than 50 former CIA and Defense Department scientists, analysts and program managers, as well as the government psychics themselves. Come hear this unusual program that may challenge your own perceptions of reality.

Image - Jane Mayer

Jane Mayer: Behind Dark Money

Date: Tue, April 04, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
An examination of conservative political financial power

Jane Mayer, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Author, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right; Twitter

Who are the people bankrolling our political system?

Mayer takes us behind the scenes and exposes the powerful group of individuals who are shaping our country. She traces the billions of dollars spent by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys and uncovers their influences on policies related to climate change, the economy and more.

Mayer also discusses the results of the 2016 election and what the future might entail if these elite billionaires continue to drive decisions at the state and federal levels.

Wed 4/5

Image - White House

Alyssa Mastromonaco: Running the Obama White House

Date: Wed, April 05, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Mastromonaco's life in politics

Alyssa Mastromonaco, Former Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Operations for President Barack Obama; Author, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House; President of Global Communications Strategy and Talent, A+E Networks; Contributing Editor, Marie Claire; Former Chief Operating Officer, Vice Media

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

Join INFORUM for a candid discussion with Alyssa Mastromonaco—and learn what it’s like to be an insider in the competitive world of politics and media. Mastromonaco will answer questions about Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, her memoir documenting her career to date as a national political operative and communications expert.

Mastromonaco spent nine years working for President Barack Obama, where she oversaw the planning and setup of presidential events, the hiring of presidential personnel and all Oval Office operations. Early in President Obama’s political rise, Mastromonaco established herself as an integral member of President Obama’s inner circle, helping Obama with key decisions (such as selecting Joe Biden as his running mate)—with lots of lessons learned along the way.

After leaving the White House, Mastromonaco shifted her focus to the global media landscape as COO of Vice Media, helping the company grow its powerhouse brand. Mastromonaco’s book includes stories about her ascension to Washington, D.C.’s political power list and also provides insightful advice for young women who are looking to make their mark on the world.

Made in Marin: Cowgirl Creamery and Rustic Bakery

Date: Wed, April 05, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Savor the tasty story of Marin foodie success

Sue Conley, Co-founder, Cowgirl Creamery
Carol Levalley, Co-founder and Co-owner, Rustic Bakery
Patricia Unterman, Owner, Hayes Street Grill; Food Writer; Founding Board Member, Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market—Moderator

This program is sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors and an anonymous donor.

Having built a robust local following, Cowgirl Creamery and Rustic Bakery exemplify what Marin foodies seek: socially and environmentally responsible, organic, artisanal, locally sourced food.

Join us as we hear the backstories of why Marin became home to these food craftswomen, how they built their businesses, and what they see coming for their industry. What are some of their favorite Marin purveyors? What’s the potential for food-focused growth in the county and beyond?

Tastings of Cowgirl Creamery cheese and Rustic Bakery breads, crackers and baked goods will precede the conversation from 7:00-7:45pm. Conversation begins at 7:45 p.m. and ends promptly at 9 p.m.