Upcoming Events

Mon 3/13

Image - Stephen Kinzer

Journalist Stephen Kinzer: History’s Lessons for American Foreign Policy in 2017

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
America's imperial temptations yesterday and today

Stephen Kinzer, Columnist, The Boston Globe; Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University; Author, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
In conversation with Jonathan Curiel, Author; Journalist

As President Trump takes office, how should the United States act in the world? Drawing on his latest book, Stephen Kinzer will transport us back to the early 20th century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation. The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before—in the period when the United States was founded—have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity. Join Kinzer as he discusses these impassioned arguments and their great relevance to the world of 2017.

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for The New York Times, where his foreign postings placed him at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire. While covering world events, he has been shot at, jailed, beaten by police, tear-gassed and bombed from the air.

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents.

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM
Discussion group

Dr. Richard G. Caro, Facilitator

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only do we uncover interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also conduct a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions are facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events.

Image - Mark Twain and George Hammond

Mark Twain's Funny Fight for Free Will

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Twain's twilight struggle

George Hammond, Author, Mark Twain's Visit to Heaven

Monday Night Philosophy finds the fun in Mark Twain's almighty fight for free will. Taking issue with analysts who believe that Mark Twain became a pessimist in old age due to his many personal tragedies, and finding the cracks of freedom in Mark Twain's own deterministic conclusions about the "damned human race" in "What is Man?", George will focus on the consistent, and consistently humorous, though sometimes painful and angry, philosophical fight Mark Twain waged from his youth to his dying breath against the stultifying fears and clearly false ideas about life that keep our otherwise free wills chained to "petrified opinion," preventing us from dreaming "other dreams, and better." 

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 3/13/17

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 3/13/17

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Larry Gerston, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, San Jose State University; Political Analyst, NBC Bay Area; Author, Reviving Citizen Engagement: Policies to Renew National Community; Twitter
Carla Marinucci, Senior Writer, Politico California Playbook; Twitter
Additional Panelist TBA

It's an important year for all things political, so 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 3/14

From Moldova to Mountain View: Creating Innovative Solutions for Real Life Problems

Date: Tue, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Inside Technovation

Madhavi Bhasin, Senior Director, Technovation and Curiosity Machine, Iridescent 
Additional Panelist TBA

Technovation, a flagship program of non-profit Iridescent, is the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls. The program offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, Technovation challenges 10- to 18-year-old girls to build a business plan and mobile app that will address a community problem. Since 2009, more than 10,000 girls have participated from more than 87 countries.

The international reach of the competition has escalated in the last three years. The winner of the 2014 competition was from Moldova, and the 2015 winner was a Nigerian team. Our speakers will give an overview of the competition, its sponsors (Google, Facebook and others), outreach efforts, and partners (such as UN Women, Peace Corps and more).

Image - Lynn Downey

The Inside Story of Levi Strauss and His Mark on America

Date: Tue, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The man who gave America Jeans

Lynn Downey, Independent Scholar, Former Historian, Levi Strauss and Company; Author, Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World
In conversation with Roy Eisenhardt

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

Blue jeans are globally beloved and quintessentially American. They symbolize everything from the Old West to the hippie counter-culture; everyone from car mechanics to high-fashion models wears jeans. And no name is more associated with blue jeans than Levi Strauss & Co., the creator of this classic American garment. Despite creating an American icon, Levi Strauss is a mystery. Little is known about the man, and the widely circulated "facts" about his life are steeped in mythology. In this first full-length biography, Lynn Downey sets the record straight about this brilliant businessman. Hear how Strauss's life was the classic American success story, filled with lessons about craft and integrity, leadership, and innovation. Dare we say, his story is riveting.

Wed 3/15

Image - Esther Koch

What You Need to Know Before You’re 65: A Medicare Primer

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Information for people nearing Medicare eligibility

Esther Koch, Founder of Encore Management; Medicare Aging Network Partner with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

If you are approaching the Medicare qualifying age of 65 and Medicare seems like one big alphabetical maze to you, you are not alone. For most, a true understanding of how Medicare works, what options are best for you, and when or how to sign-up is not clear at all. Learn the ABC and Ds of Medicare, plus the realities of what to expect … and what not to expect. Here’s what every Boomer needs to know before they turn 65.

Image - detail from The Prose Edda book cover

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Prose Edda, by Jesse Byock

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Gods and giants and dwarves and elves — what's not to like?

Join us to discuss The Prose Edda, the most renowned work of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. The Edda was written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, and tells in clear prose, interspersed with powerful verse, the ancient Norse creation epic and stories of the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Image - design
This event is Sold Out

Designing Your Life with Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Try out "life design"

Bill Burnett, Executive Director, Design Program, Stanford University; Co-author, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
Dave Evans, Adjunct Lecturer, Product Design Program, Stanford University; Management Consultant; Co-founder, Electronic Arts; Co-author, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
Suzanne Gibbs Howard, Partner, IDEO; Founder and Dean, IDEO U—Moderator

Are you ready to design the life you’ve always envisioned in your head? Let Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show you the way! The Stanford professors and New York Times #1 best-selling authors of Designing Your Life have spent years teaching life design to Stanford students, and are excited to share their experience with INFORUM. Design-thinking principles aren’t just for products and space! Bill and Dave will discuss the "many versions of 'you' that exist," teach us all how to think like designers, and help us prototype our way to a more joyful life. Their approach is applicable and fun, much like great design. Be ready to reframe and revamp your creative thinking.

VIP Opportunity! Prior to the conversation, from 5:45-6:45 pm, Bill and Dave will lead an intimate VIP experience: the Life Design Energy Workshop. The workshop will include an energy exercise and mini-Designing Your Life workshop focused on energy, for those who want the opportunity to try out some of Bill and Dave’s techniques for life design firsthand. Tickets are first-come, first-served, very limited and are non-refundable. To join the waiting list if we are able to release additional seats, please sign up here. We recommend buying a ticket to the general program, as we expect to sell out.

Thu 3/16

Image - Green Film Festival logo

San Francisco Green Film Festival: Film Stories From Your Dinner Plate

Date: Thu, March 16, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Celebration of food, film and the arts

Rachel Caplan, CEO, San Francisco Green Film Festival
Mischa Hedges, Director, Of the Sea
Mark Kitchell, Director, Evolution of Organic

Filmmakers are delving into our complex food system with farmers, chefs, food-lovers and campaigners who are challenging the status-quo. Join the San Francisco Green Film Festival and Bay Area filmmakers for a visual feast of films and conversation about the stories that are shaping our eating and healthy sustainable food choices. And a plus! Enjoy a sneak preview of the San Francisco Green Film Festival, Spring 2017, with a celebration of the interaction of food, film and the arts!

Image - students holding banner

Youth in the Streets and in the Courts

Date: Thu, March 16, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Students suing for their environment

James Coleman, Senior, South San Francisco High School; Alliance for Climate Education Action Fellow
Lou Helmuth, Deputy Director, Our Children's Trust

President Trump’s bold dismissal of climate change as a legitimate concern is energizing a new generation of teenage activists. Some are marching in the streets. Others are taking the federal and state governments to court, attempting to apply an ancient legal doctrine to the climate fight. It’s a longshot move that has been inching its way through U.S. courts for years and is now moving forward in Oregon.

Digital natives are known for short attention spans and thinking that being a “clicktivist” qualifies as civic engagement. Do teenagers have a chance to be heard and make an impact on an issue so complex and massive as the world’s energy system? How are young advocates using social media to advance their cause? Join us for a conversation about kids confronting powerful institutions and finding their own power and voices. 

High school students who attend this event are eligible to apply for Climate One’s $12,000 Students on Ice scholarship. Greg Dalton created Climate One after traveling to the Arctic, and to pay it forward we now send a Bay Area high school student to the Arctic every year. The winning student joins 40 other youths on an ocean voyage from Canada to Greenland, where they learn about science and indigenous cultures. More information about this amazing journey will be given at the event, which students must attend in order to apply. Here’s a video of last year’s Climate One Arctic scholars.

Mon 3/20

Image - Rhodessa Jones

Rhodessa Jones and Cultural Odyssey's Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
What art and performance can teach about women and HIV

Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, Cultural Odyssey; Actress; Teacher; Writer; Director, Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle; Former Visiting Artist in Residence, University of California, Berkeley Black Theater Workshop; Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California; Spring 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence, College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

In 1989, on the basis of material developed while conducting classes at the San Francisco County Jail, Rhodessa Jones created “Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women,” a performance piece based on the lives of the incarcerated women she encountered. Based on this observation, Jones founded The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women to explore whether an arts-based approach could help reduce the numbers of women returning to jail.

In 2008, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women joined forces with UCSF’s Women’s HIV Clinic to create theater that explores what it means to be living with the virus in the 21st century. For the past seven years, The Medea Project: HIV Circle has performed shows all around the United States, sharing the truth and the stories of what it means to be female and infected or affected.

Life After Hate

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Lessons from a former extremist

Antony McAleer, Executive Director, Life After Hate

A former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), Tony McAleer served as a skinhead recruiter, proprietor of Canadian Liberty Net (a computer-operated voice messaging center used to disseminate messages of hatred), and manager of the racist rock band, Odin’s Law. It was love for his children that finally led Tony on a spiritual journey of personal transformation. Today he is the executive director of Life After Hate and shares his practice of compassion as an inspirational speaker.

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.