Upcoming Events

Tue 4/21

Image - Grover Norquist: End the IRS

Grover Norquist: End the IRS

Date: Tue, April 21, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform; Author, End the IRS Before It Ends Us; Twitter @GroverNorquist
Quentin Hardy, Deputy Technology Editor, The New York Times; Former Executive Editor, Forbes Media – Moderator

Arianna Huffington calls Grover Norquist “the dark wizard of the Right's anti-tax cult.” Newt Gingrich says Mr. Norquist is “the most innovative, courageous leader of conservative grassroots activism in America.” Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform in 1985 to limit the size and cost of government. ATR organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. In the 113th Congress, 219 House members and 41 Senators took the pledge.

Mr. Norquist contends that the IRS has abused and bullied the American people and proposes to replace all federal taxes with a single retail sales tax. Bring your questions for this controversial figure, who will present an alternative future where the IRS is radically curtailed.

Image - Steve Jurvetson: From Hotshots to Moon Shots - The World of Silicon Vall

Steve Jurvetson: From Hotshots to Moon Shots - The World of Silicon Valley Innovation

Date: Tue, April 21, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM

Steve Jurvetson, Partner, DFJ; Twitter @dfjsteve
Alison van Diggelen, Host, “Fresh Dialogues”; Contributor, BBC – Moderator

Steve Jurvetson believes in moon shots and puts his money where his mouth is, quite literally. As Partner of DFJ, he has invested in SpaceX and Planet Labs, and proved to have an uncanny knack for backing successful startups, including Tesla Motors, Hotmail and Skype. He will share his perspective on disruptive innovation, how he chooses which startups to fund, as well as his unique insights on the future of artificial intelligence, biotech and Silicon Valley.

Wed 4/22

Image - Big Weed: An Entrepreneur's High-Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal

Big Weed: An Entrepreneur's High-Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal Marijuana Business

Date: Wed, April 22, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Christian Hageseth, Founder of Green Man Cannabis

Christian Hageseth, Founder, Green Man Cannabis

Christian Hageseth is the face of the legal marijuana revolution – an entrepreneur and father of three who worked in the white-collar professional world for 20 years before opening his first dispensary. The founder and chairman of Green Man Cannabis, the fastest-growing marijuana company in the country, he provides a guide through a wild frontier where he says police hardly know what laws to enforce and parents don’t know what to tell their kids. Hageseth will discuss how he got into the business, the big corporate interests that are eager to do the same, and the full impact he believes legal marijuana will have on American life.

Image - Let's Talk about Death: How Boomers Are Transforming the Last Taboo

Let's Talk about Death: How Boomers Are Transforming the Last Taboo

Date: Wed, April 22, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
With experts from SevenPonds

Suzette Sherman, CEO, Founder & Blogger, SevenPonds
Peter Stathis, Board of Directors member, SevenPonds

Nobody likes to talk about death, yet a cultural paradigm shift is taking place where the macabre reaper of the past is being replaced with a contemporary, progressive attitude toward end-of-life. Marin County's 97-percent cremation rate reflects this trend. Next year, a third of our population will be over the age of 50. As the Boomers face their own mortality, they've begun to transform the last taboo: death. Sherman and Stathis, principals of SevenPonds.com, will immerse the audience in a surprising spectrum of end-of-life choices that fully empower all people to die and grieve as they wish.

Image - Coal Wars

Coal Wars

Date: Wed, April 22, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
With author Richard Martin

Richard Martin, Author, Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet
Additional Panelists TBA

Coal is taking a beating in the United States but it is gaining market share in Asia. Coal-fired electricity is lifting people out of poverty. It is also frying the sky. Will banning coal exports impact domestic prices and international carbon pollution?

Join us for a journey from the mines of Wyoming to China’s coal region.

Fri 4/24

Image - Arabian Shakespeare

Arabian Shakespeare

Date: Fri, April 24, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Philippa Kelly, William Brown III and Asma Dhaif

William Brown III, Actor; Founding Director, Arabian Shakespeare Festival
Asma Dhaif, Masters Student in Instructional Technologies, SFSU
Torange Yeghizarian, Founding Artistic Director, Golden Thread Productions
Philippa Kelly, PhD; Educator; Shakespeare Expert – Moderator

In 2010 three Bay Area actors traveled to the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain to teach a small group of excited women students foundational aspects of theater, aided by Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies, histories and sonnets. After just two weeks, their students performed their favorite scenes in both English and Arabic before an enraptured audience of nearly 400. From this outpouring of enthusiasm the Arabian Shakespeare Festival was born. The company now seeks to build bridges between the United States and the Middle East by delving into the bard’s universal themes of love and hate, life and death, and vengeance and forgiveness on both sides of the seas. Brown, ASF founder and director, and Dr. Kelly explore Shakespeare’s reach into the Middle East and tackle the ongoing enigma of the bard’s true identity.

Mon 4/27

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
An enriching, provocative and fun discussion.

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion, led by Banafsheh Keynoush, 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. This evening's discussion will focus on Iran. 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 - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 4/27/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 4/27/15

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Informative and engaging commentary.

C.W. Nevius, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter @cwnevius
Daniel Borenstein, Columnist and Editorial Writer, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune; Twitter @borensteindan
Melissa Griffin Caen, Contributor, CBS SF (“Mornings with Melissa”) and San Francisco Magazine; Attorney; Twitter @melgriffincaen

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).

Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, April 27, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held once a month on a Monday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, John Nyquist, 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.

Tue 4/28

Image - David Brooks

David Brooks

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
The Road to Character

David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times; Author, The Road to Character; Twitter: @nytdavidbrooks
Judge LaDoris H. Cordell (ret), Independent Police Auditor, City of San Jose — Moderator

Part of the American Value Series, underwritten by The Koret Foundation

How is character developed? In a society that emphasizes success and achievement, Brooks illustrates what humility, inner worth and moral depth really mean.

Brooks is a popular political commentator, and his New York Times column reaches over 800,000 readers around the world.

Image - The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet

The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With Mitchell Gaynor, M.D.

Mitchell Gaynor, M.D.; Founder and President of Gaynor Wellness; Clinical Assistant Professor, Weill-Cornell Medical College

The 21st century is barely underway, and with it, the field of epigenetics has become the century’s first evolutionary leap into health optimization. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, a renowned integrative oncologist, uses epigenetic modalities with his patients, and they are the focus of his latest book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle. His suggestions are perhaps the first concrete explanations of how factors other than one’s DNA create disease.

Gaynor’s talk shows how the use of carefully analyzed practices target the complexities of major diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and he demonstrates how certain epigenetic actions – food, nutrients, meditation, exercise, non-toxic environments – optimize health and minimize damage inside and outside the body. His talk, like his book, is really a manual for what to do now to diminish a disease that has already appeared, to prevent its spread, or to prevent its appearance in the future.

Dr. Gaynor’s gene changer therapies are the latest advance in the evolution of optimizing health. Destiny is not fixed. Destiny now includes the actions that each individual can take to repair and enhance gene expression.

Image - Reimagining America's Infrastructure

Reimagining America's Infrastructure

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Harriet Tregoning, Director, Office of Economic Resilience, HUD
Ginger Strand, Environmental Journalist; Historian; Author, Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power and Lies
Benjamin Grant, Urban Design Policy Director, SPUR
H. Emerson Blake, Editor-in-Chief, Orion Magazine; Executive Director, The Orion Society

Once a point of national pride, America's infrastructure is showing its age. Yet even in their heyday, the big infrastructure projects of the past were not always mindful of the communities in which they were built, nor did their designs appropriately reflect the varying regional needs of our broad nation. Over the past two years, Orion, an influential environmentalist magazine with stewardship at its core, has run a revealing series about responses to America’s looming infrastructure crisis. Its journalists have documented how communities are responding to new and old challenges, from protecting cities against super-powered hurricanes to renovating antiquated transportation systems. Take part as our panelists discuss how regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area can advance innovative, creative infrastructure solutions with a global reach.

Image - Hank Paulson: Dealing with China

Hank Paulson: Dealing with China

Date: Tue, April 28, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Hank Paulson, Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; Author, Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower

For decades Hank Paulson has enjoyed rare access to the highest levels of China’s ruling elite. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson was pivotal in opening up China to private enterprise. As Treasury secretary, he encouraged trade with the newly emerging economic powerhouse and safeguarded the teetering U.S. financial system. He created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world's second-largest economy. He also is co-chair of Risky Business, a project that quantifies and publicizes the economic risks from a changing climate.

Join us for a conversation with one of America’s top deal makers about dealing with an economic superpower.

 

Wed 4/29

Image - What’s the Value of a College Education?

What’s the Value of a College Education?

Date: Wed, April 29, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Alecia DeCoudreaux, President, Mills College
Richard Ekman, President, Council of Independent Colleges
Mary Marcy, President, Dominican University of California
Mohammad Qayoumi, President, California State University San Jose
Claude Steele, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley
Monica R. Martinez, Deeper Learning Senior Fellow, Hewlett Foundation; Commissioner, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics - Moderator

Program sponsored by Charles Schwab

For the United States to remain competitive in the global economy, our citizens need to be innovative, versatile and well-educated. To provide for these qualifications, does our model of higher education need a wholesale renovation? What would an education that is tailored to the needs of the 21st century – and affordable to all – even look like?

Join this distinguished panel of public and private college educators to tackle the difficult challenges ahead: What is the value of a liberal arts college education versus a pre-professional vocational skill-building model? Why does college cost so much? How can we close the gap between attendance and graduation rates? Can we design blended in-person and online courses that are both instructive and cost-efficient? And finally, how can we get our state and federal governments to continue to support higher education and to take the financial burden off of students?

Image - Jospeh Stiglitz: The Great Divide

Joseph Stiglitz: The Great Divide

Date: Wed, April 29, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Former Senior Vice President of the World Bank

Joseph Stiglitz, Professor, Columbia University; Author, The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them; Twitter @JosephEStiglitz
Michael Moritz, Managing Member, Sequoia Capital — Moderator

We are living in an era defined by economic uncertainty and bitter politics: The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, an emboldened Wall Street has shrugged off attempts at regulation, and important political policies have become the playthings of financial interests. Still, economist Joseph Stiglitz believes that a healthy economy and a fair democracy are within our grasp. By taking what he sees as practical political steps, such as making those at the top pay their fair share, spending more in areas that we all value – education, health, and infrastructure – and eliminating the corrosive advantages built into our markets, Stiglitz argues that we can once again create the opportunities that have for so long defined America, and get the country back on track.

Stiglitz is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Thu 4/30

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Thu, April 30, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
Join Rick Evans on a waterfront 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 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 - New Member Reception

New Member Reception

Date: Thu, April 30, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Are you new to the Club? Just want to explore and check it out? Come take a peek, meet other members and staff and learn about all The Commonwealth Club offers. Experience firsthand how The Commonwealth Club has become the nation’s leading public forum. Bring a friend and explore the Club together!

Fri 5/1

Image - Out of Sight: LA Art in the '60s

Out of Sight: LA Art in the '60s

Date: Fri, May 01, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With William Hackman and Patricia Albers

William Hackman, Journalist; Former Managing Editor, J. Paul Getty Trust; Author, Out of Sight: The Los Angeles Art Scene of the Sixties
In conversation with Patricia Albers, Journalist, Author, Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter and Shadows, Fire, Snow: The Life of Tina Modotti

Art, perhaps more than any other medium, has a way of serving as a roadmap for a society’s political, social and aesthetic shifts. In the 1950s and ’60s, it was the Los Angeles art scene – more than that of New York City – that revealed the sort of country America was, and the sort of place it was rapidly becoming. Vital to LA’s vibrant arts’ landscape was curator Walter Hopps and the artists who surrounded him, such as Marcel Duchamp, Judy Chicago, John Baldessari, Bruce Nauman and Ed Kienholz. Hackman, a longtime arts journalist, reveals how their works interact with the city’s geography, burgeoning right-wing activism and the conflict between bohemia, masculinity and sexuality, presenting a vivid picture of mid-century Los Angeles.

Mon 5/4

Image - Sebastian Rejak, Polish Foreign Ministry’s Envoy to the Jewish Diaspora

Sebastian Rejak, Polish Foreign Ministry’s Envoy to the Jewish Diaspora

Date: Mon, May 04, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
How Europe’s Challenged Stability Affects Its Minorities: A Polish Perspective

How Europe’s Challenged Stability Affects Its Minorities: A Polish Perspective

Sebastian Rejak, Special Envoy of Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs for Relations with the Jewish Diaspora

Dr. Rejak will focus on the Ukrainian issue (east of Poland) and the terrorist challenges in France, Belgium and the U.K. (west of Poland) to discuss how terrorism affects multicultural dynamics and immigrant communities in Europe and specifically in Poland. He will also touch on the issue of recent Jewish emigration from Europe which he says is linked to the ubiquitous feeling that Europe is no longer safe for Jews. Dr. Rejak has been working for the Polish Foreign Ministry since 2006 in the domain of Polish-Jewish relations. He completed his doctoral studies at the Graduate School for Social Research, affiliated to the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Dr. Rejak is a member of the Polish Society for Jewish Studies and sits on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies (associated with the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies).

Book Discussion: The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault

Date: Mon, May 04, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

In The Last of the Wine, the long Peloponnesian War against Sparta underpins a story centering on the life of Athens and the circle of young men around Socrates. The novel focuses on the coming to manhood of its narrator, a young Athenian nobleman named Alexias, and of Lysis, the man who becomes the love of Alexias' life. The novel's chief concern is the sort of Greek love that inspired Plato's great dialogues, Symposium and Phaedrus. Alexias' solution to the eternal tension between virtue and desire is not quite that of Plato, here seen as a member of the circle around Socrates. That circle is full of names familiar from the Platonic dialogues: Kritias, Charmides and Phaedo; and of others, like Xenophon, famed for their own historic deeds.

While the settings of various episodes vary widely, the focus of the story is Athens, in the households of the protagonists and in the bustling streets where Socrates seeks and passes on wisdom.

The Last of the Wine captures the private lives of Athenian citizens, especially the intersection of the individual with the public life of the city that defined the Athenian soul. This clearly ranks among the three best novels Renault wrote, and an argument can be made for it as the best novel ever written about the ancient Greeks.