Upcoming Events

Wed 7/20

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops.

Image - Regina Sneed

OMG: I Forgot to Plan for a Good Death!

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
Having the final say.

Regina Sneed, Advocate, The California End of Life Option Act

The California End of Life Option Act will be effective on June 9, 2016. The speaker will discuss the options people have for dying based on their choices, including the new option of medical aid in dying. People will also have time to discuss what each of us can do to ensure our wishes can be fulfilled for a death with dignity. The audience will be provided with helpful supplemental material and afforded the opportunity to better understand the choices and protections inherent in this important legislation.

Thu 7/21

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Is Dating Dead? With Author Moira Weigel

Date: Thu, July 21, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Moira Weigel, Author, Labor of Love:The Invention of Dating

"All humans long for others with whom to share our lives,” says Moira Weigel, Ph.D.

Weigel's book Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating takes a deep dive into the practices of dating and mating from the era of courtships and arranged marriages to the current widespread use of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OKCupid by those looking for love.

Daters today often ask “Is dating dead? What happened to chivalry and romance?” Moira instead asks, “What’s the history of dating? Has it been ruined by modern problems? Has it always been complicated?”

Join Moira for a look at the history of dating—from courtship and calling cards to online dating and delayed marriage. Bring a date (we promise there will be plenty to discuss afterward!), come solo or invite friends. Who knows who you’ll meet!

Mon 7/25

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, July 25, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Middle East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, has been meeting for more than eight years. We do not debate; we exchange ideas and opinions. The discussion is considered a perk of membership, but those interested especially, students are welcome to attend.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 7/25/16

Date: Mon, July 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Smart and lively political discussion

Panelists TBA

It's time for a mid-summer night's political dream.

We'll 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 7/26

Image - William D. Eggers

Transforming Government with a Digital Mindset

Date: Tue, July 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
How can government "think digital" about everything and everyone?

William D. Eggers, Executive Director, Deloitte Center for Government Innovation; Author, Delivering on Digital: The Innovators and Technologies that Are Transforming Government

How can government transform its capabilities by capitalizing on today’s new digital tools? Best-selling author William D. Eggers coined the term “government 2.0” more than a decade ago and now envisions an even more revolutionary era in government, enabled by cloud computing, mobile devices and analytics.

Eggers chronicles the new generation of digital innovators who are “hacking bureaucracy” to reform and modernize long-standing bureaucratic processes and reimagine virtually every facet of what government does using digital tools—inspiring us to “think digital” when it comes to citizens, products and process.

Thu 7/28

Image - Dr Denise Davis

Race and Relationships in Health Care: Basic Psychology I Didn't Learn in Med School (But Wish I Had)

Date: Thu, July 28, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Denise L. Davis, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California San Francisco; Fellow, American Academy on Communication in Healthcare

In 2014, health professions students around the country staged White Coats for Black Lives protests, which focused the attention of UCSF and other medical schools on issues of race, power and health. Dr. Davis will discuss the art and science of improving doctor-patient communication that could change the culture of medicine, helping doctors to move beyond "White Coat Silence" on race and power.

Tue 8/2

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Paulette Brown, President, American Bar Association: Making the Justice System Just

Date: Tue, August 02, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Paulette Brown, President, American Bar Association; Partner/co-chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Locke Lord LLP

Paulette Brown is the first woman of color to become president of the ABA and has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the “50 most influential minority lawyers in America.” She has been a municipal court judge, in addition to focusing on all facets of labor and employment litigation. Brown has devoted her presidency to “rebuilding the nation’s confidence in our justice system” by “working to eliminate bias and enhance diversity and inclusion” and offer “tangible, sustainable solutions that will have a positive impact on the perception of our justice system.”

Join an important discussion of what’s being done to ensure that the legal system can better represent the under-represented across the United States.

Wed 8/3

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Why Are Class Action Attorneys' Fees so High and Judicial Oversight so Low?

Date: Wed, August 03, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special August series Big Solutions to Big Problems  

Lawrence Schonbrun, Attorney Representing the Petitioning Class Member in Laffitte vs. Robert Half International

Big Solutions to Big Problems, the 2016 August Forum series at the Club, investigates whether excessive legal fees in class action lawsuits can be reined in without eliminating the incentives needed to prosecute such actions. Schonbrun’s talk will discuss the recent California Supreme Court case, Laffitte v. Robert Half Int'l., Inc., which establishes the rules that courts must follow in awarding reasonable attorneys' fees from class action settlements.

Thu 8/4

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Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, August 04, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

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.

Mon 8/8

Image - George Hammond

Ending Slavery

Date: Mon, August 08, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

George Hammond, Author, Rational Idealism and Conversations with Socrates

Monday Night Philosophy contributes to our special August series with a close look at the resilience of slavery in the 21st century. Ending slavery was a 19th century obsession that appeared quite successful, as did the attempt to end intemperance. But was slavery, like drunkenness, just pushed underground when it was criminalized? The intense psychological desire for hierarchical status, and the economic desires that reinforce that, explain why slavery is as hard to eliminate as other social ills, as is evidenced by the continuing mass incarceration of African-Americans and the endurance of various forms of female slavery.

The big solution to this big problem is an easily understood and almost as easily adopted perspective that effectively undermines the psychological need for hierarchy. There are also legal incentives, and technical half-solutions, which could help minimize the demand for enslaving each other in the meantime.

Tue 8/9

Image - George Hammond

Understanding Evil

Date: Tue, August 09, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions to Big Problems

George Hammond, Author, Rational Idealism and Conversations with Socrates

The dichotomy between good and evil was popular long before Zoroaster was born, and it will probably continue to be long after Manichaeism's last influences subside. But is evil a useful concept? Or an obfuscating one? The big solution to this big problem in understanding reality comes from comparing the concepts of good and evil to the less emotionally fraught concepts of hot and cold. They appear to be opposites at first, but are actually relative labels we apply to our experiences that depend both on an objective reality and on the relative perspective of the perceiver.

Understanding evil this way vastly reduces the fears that have scared us silly for centuries, and provides a tremendous boost to the effectiveness of our pursuit of happiness—a big solution indeed.

Wed 8/10

Image - Lorraine Bannai

Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

Date: Wed, August 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions to Big Problems

Lorraine Bannai, Professor of Lawyering Skills and Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, Seattle University School of Law; Author, Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

The vulnerability of minority communities has always been a big problem, but it is particularly so when fear exacerbates ignorance. Not long ago, it was Japanese Americans; now it is Muslims. Professor Bannai illuminates this theme through the story of Fred Korematsu, a 22-year-old Oakland welder who refused to comply with orders that led to the incarceration of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. In Korematsu v. United States­, the wartime Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the government in one of its most infamous cases. More than 40 years later, Professor Bannai was part of the legal team that successfully challenged Korematsu's conviction based on proof that the government had falsified the record.

For Korematsu’s courage and for his work warning of the dangers of prejudice, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Thu 8/11

Is There a Safe Way to Use Geo-Engineering to Address Climate Change?

Date: Thu, August 11, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Learn about the prospects for a dealing with climate disruption

Leslie Field, Ph.D., Founder and President, Ice911 Research; Founder, SmallTech Consulting
Armand Neukermans, Ph.D., Founder, Xros; Author; Inventor

Can geo-engineering help us stave off even more dramatic climate disruption? Dr. Field and Dr. Neudermans will be interviewed by Gerald Harris, chair of The Commonwealth Club's Science & Technology member-led forum. He will inquire about the latest approaches to geo-engineering to address climate change, the need for such work, the risks involved and the potential benefits. Mr. Harris has been consulting to the electric power industry on long-term planning for more 25 years and has been an executive at both Bechtel Engineers and Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

Fri 8/12

Israeli Innovations in Solving Big Problems

Date: Fri, August 12, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
This program is part of our special series Big Solutions to Big Problems

Ravit Baer, Deputy Consul General for Israel for the Pacific Northwest
Nathan Miller, President, Miller Ink; Consultant, Israel 21c
Riva Gambert, Director, East Bay International Jewish Film Festival—Moderator

A distinguished panel will discuss the impressive contributions the tiny state of Israel (known as the Start Up Nation) has made in finding and sharing solutions to big problems threatening the environment, health and economies throughout the world. In particular, DCG Baer will speak to how the government supports Israeli technology, research and development, as well as assisting other societies, such as California with our drought.

Mon 8/15

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Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions to Big Problems

Larry Tye, Author, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

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

Nobody was better, half a century ago, at thinking about the biggest solutions for the problems of his age than Bobby, whether that be race riots roiling in cities across America, and especially in California; the war raging in Vietnam; or the general issue of inequality that was dividing people along lines of class, race, gender and generation.

Those issues, of course, are a mirror of those facing the country today, when RFK's message is more resonant than ever. He predicted we'd have a black president almost to the day, when no white politician dreamed of it. He talked about how our problems made us ripe for demagogues, though he'd never met Donald P. Trump but did know George Wallace better than anyone. And he offered ways out of all of that, in compelling enough terms to win the California primary and seem poised for the presidency.

Reading Californians Book Discussion Group

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer

The acclaimed novel The Sympathizer, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, will be discussed at the next meeting of our new book discussion group, Reading Californians. Nguyen was the gold medal winner for first fiction in The Commonwealth Club's recent California Book Awards, which recognized the best published writing in California in 2015. Nguyen’s novel has been described as “a cerebral thriller about Vietnam and its aftermath” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post) and “A dark funny—and Vietnamese—look at the Vietnam war” (NPR Books).

Find out for yourself what all of the excitement is about.

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Carla Power, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Author of "If the Oceans Were Ink"

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
How a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh explore and explain the Quran

Carla Power, Pulitzer Prize Finalist; Author, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran

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

Get inside of Carla Power's eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship—between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh—had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a year-long journey through the controversial text.

A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars.

Armed with a new understanding of each other's worldviews, Power and Akram offer eye-opening perspectives, destroy long-held myths, and reveal startling connections between worlds that have seemed hopelessly divided for far too long.

Tue 8/16

Former San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt: There Is Life After Baseball

Date: Tue, August 16, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Jeremy Affeldt, San Francisco Giants Pitcher 2008-2015; Philanthropist; Author, To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice and Major League Baseball
In conversation with Lenny Mendonca, Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Come out and meet a superstar athlete who has turned his attention to helping to solve problems off the field. Jeremy Affeldt is a major league baseball pitcher, philanthropist, humanitarian, public speaker and author. His baseball career spanned 14 years with the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and the last seven years with the San Francisco Giants. He played on all three Giants World Champion teams—2010, 2012 and 2014. For his career, Affeldt has a record of 2-0, 0.86 ERA in 33 post-season games, the third-lowest in history among pitchers with at least 30 innings. He has 22 straight scoreless post-season appearances since allowing one run in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. He retired from baseball on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Jeremy is an active leader to end human trafficking and modern day slavery and is an advocate to support and feed the hungry at home and around the globe. He is the co-founder of Generation Alive, a non-profit organization that works to teach and inspire a generation of young people to act by serving others. In addition to being an author, he is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.com. Come be inspired by Jeremy’s work on and off the field.

Safer Guns: A Tech Remedy for the Gun Violence Epidemic

Date: Tue, August 16, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our Big Ideas to Solve Big Problems special series

Margot Hirsch, President, Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
Matt Drange, Technology and Business Writer, Forbes

With federal standards for smart guns coming this fall, along with grants for law enforcement to purchase smart firearms, there is renewed interest in technology to prevent the harm done when guns fall into the wrong hands. Each year there are 20,000 injuries and deaths caused by accidental shootings and teen suicides, nearly all of which advocates say could be prevented with personalized firearms. A recent Johns Hopkins study found that 6 in 10 Americans support the development of smart gun technologies, including modifications to the existing 300 million guns in America today—a rare middle ground politically.