Upcoming Events

Wed 6/7

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Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, June 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ongoing Ben Franklin forum

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility. (But don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates.")

The Ben Franklin Circles program brings people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world. 

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Journalism and the Information Civil War

Date: Wed, June 07, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Investigative journalism on the rise

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, the Center for Investigative Reporting

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

Is our current social and political climate fueling a new golden age of journalism? Or is it a dark time for the media? Driven by attacks on the freedom of the press, information and disinformation, and a changing media landscape, news organizations have renewed their interest in uncovering the truth through investigative reporting.

Robert Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting, and Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones, will discuss the present and future for real news and information. The Center for Investigative Reporting is nationally respected for setting the highest journalistic standards and for their signature approach to investigative reporting and collaboration. Mother Jones is the 2017 winner of Magazine of the Year for its investigation of private prisons and for breaking the story of a spy's allegations that Russia sought to compromise Donald Trump.

Thu 6/8

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Garry Kasparov: The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Date: Thu, June 08, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
How to combine artificial intelligence with human creativity

Garry Kasparov, Chairman, Human Rights Foundation; Former World Chess Champion; Author, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins
In Conversation with Holly Kernan, Vice President of News, KQED

In May 1997, the world watched as Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was defeated for the first time by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Kasparov's competition symbolized man’s fight against machine, yet years after losing to Deep Blue, he has come to see how humans and machines can partner to reach results that neither can attain alone. Come join us for a conversation about what it was like to strategize against a supercomputer—and how a world increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence can potentially overcome new challenges.

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Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 08, 2017
Time: 2:00 PM
Walking tour

Join a more active Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a "cardio hike" up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.

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Golf Courses, the Environment and Water Conservation: The New Reality

Date: Thu, June 08, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The future of golf courses

Don Chelemedos, PGA General Manager, Presidio Golf Course
Brian Nettz, GCSAA Superintendent, Presidio Golf Course

While some people may think of the golf industry as one of waste and excess, recent climate changes and resources have required golf course operators to rethink their strategy when it comes to golfing, natural resources and adjustments for changing golf courses and game environments. Join the operations team from the Presidio Golf Course as they discuss water conservation, sustainable environmental improvements and the model the Presidio Golf Course has created for current and future golfers, environments and the golfing industry.

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Chain Reaction: Why Two Wheels Are Better Than Four

Date: Thu, June 08, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Using your bike to address climate change

Caeli Quinn, Founder, Climate Ride
Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

Getting out of a car and onto a bike is one of the best things you can do for the climate and your personal health. Bike lanes are growing in American cities from New York City to Houston, the country’s oil and gasoline capital. Cycling is also a way for people to raise awareness and money for their climate work. Still, many potential cyclists are worried about their personal safety while biking—and about breathing bus exhaust.

What are cities doing to take cycling to the next level? Is bike sharing really displacing taxi rides? How is pedal power helping the broader climate movement? Join us for a conversation about cycling and the ways it is changing urban America and cutting carbon emissions.

Fri 6/9

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Uniting Us Through Dance

Date: Fri, June 09, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
The 39th San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Clara Rodriguez, AguaClara Flamenco 
Eric Solano, Parangal Filipino Dance Company 
2017 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Participants

For decades, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival has served as the embodiment of the Bay Area’s cultural diversity and as a beacon for sustaining and celebrating world culture. Two local dance groups, showcasing two different dance forms, will give a lecture and demonstration, providing participants with an intimate look at the festival’s performance series, which will be performed at the San Francisco Opera House for the first time.

Clara Rodriguez, director of AguaClara Flamenco, has trained and worked professionally in the flamenco world for 25 years. She has been a featured soloist in productions throughout the United States, Spain, Portugal and India and has also performed at Oakland’s Disco Volante.

Parangal Dance Company is led by Eric Solano. The company’s hopes to honor Filipino heritage, presenting richly varied ethnic attire, music and inspired dances from different regions.

Mon 6/12

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Buddhist Economics

Date: Mon, June 12, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Applying Buddhism to economics

Clair Brown, Professor of Economics; Director, Center for Work, Technology and Society at the University of California, Berkeley; Author, Buddhist Economics

Monday Night Philosophy travels a different path to economic wisdom. Traditional economics measures the ways we earn and spend our income, but it doesn't always consider what gives our lives meaning. In response, Clair Brown has developed a holistic model that approaches the organizational structure of an economy by using Buddhist values, emphasizing sustainability, interconnectedness, capability and happiness to promote a more compassionate society. By replacing the endless cycle of desire with collective priorities, Brown argues we will benefit both personally and globally for generations to come.

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86th Annual California Book Awards

Date: Mon, June 12, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Annual book awards

Join us for one of the Golden State’s premier literary events—the California Book Awards! The 2017 Book Awards, now in its 86th year, recognizes the best published California writing published in 2016.

The California Book Awards have often been on the vanguard, honoring previously unknown authors who go on to garner national acclaim. Since 1931, the California Book Awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. Each year, a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement. This year’s award ceremony will include a special tribute to Kevin Starr, a giant of California letters who died this past January. Starr’s eight-volume history of the state, collectively known as Americans and the California Dream, lays out an epic story that is still unfolding today. 

Come celebrate the state's best writers! Meet and learn more about the authors, get your books signed and visit with your fellow admirers of great California writing. Enjoy wine and a chance to win a complete set of this year's award-winning books in the Book Awards raffle. See you at the ceremony!

Tue 6/13

Image - Cathryn Jakobson Ramin

Crooked: What It Takes to Outwit the Back Pain Industry and Get on the Road to Recovery

Date: Tue, June 13, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Recovering from back pain

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, Journalist; Investigative Reporter; Author, Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in MidlifeCrooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery

In an effort to manage her chronic back pain, investigative reporter and New York Times best-selling author Cathryn Jakobson Ramin spent years and a small fortune on a panoply of treatments. But her discomfort only intensified, leaving her feeling frustrated and perplexed. As she searched for better solutions, she exposed a much bigger problem. Costing roughly $100 billion a year, spine medicine—often ineffective and sometimes harmful—exemplified the worst aspects of the U.S. health-care system.

The result of six years of intensive investigation, her new book, Crooked, offers a startling look at the poorly identified risks of spine medicine, providing practical advice and solutions. Ramin interviewed scores of spine surgeons, pain management doctors, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, exercise physiologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and specialized bodywork practitioners. She met with many patients whose pain and desperation led them to make life-altering decisions—and with others who triumphed over their limitations.

The result is a brilliant and comprehensive book that is not only important but essential to millions of back pain sufferers and all types of health-care professionals. Ramin shatters assumptions about surgery, chiropractic methods, physical therapy, spinal injections and painkillers while addressing evidence-based rehabilitation options—showing, in detail, how to avoid therapeutic dead ends and also save money, time and considerable anguish. With Crooked, she reveals what it takes to outwit the back pain industry and get on the road to recovery.

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Kim Scott: Radical Candor

Date: Tue, June 13, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Leading with “radical candor"

Kim Scott, Author, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity
Jenny Dearborn, Chief Learning Officer, SAP; Author, Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results—Moderator

Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees. Kim Scott has identified three simple principles for building better relationships. She will share the framework to help build, lead and inspire others to do their best. Learn more about “radical candor,” the effective management method that Scott developed from her years working at Google and Apple and from serving as a coaching executive at Twitter and Dropbox.

Wed 6/14

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Opera for Our Time: Bringing New Works to Life

Date: Wed, June 14, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Exploring opera with longtime dramaturg

Kip Cranna, Dramaturg, San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s longtime dramaturg Clifford “Kip” Cranna has managed the commissioning of more than 20 new operas, including “Harvey Milk,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Dead Man Walking,” “Doctor Atomic,” “Appomattox,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” “Moby Dick,” “Dream of the Red Chamber” and the upcoming “Girls of the Golden West.” Join Cranna for an insider’s viewpoint—with video examples—as he explores the thriving world of contemporary American opera and offers behind-the-scenes tales of how new operas are born.

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Take a Wild Uber Ride with Adam Lashinsky

Date: Wed, June 14, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Uber in an on-demand economy

Adam Lashinsky, Journalist, Fortune; Author, Inside AppleWild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination
Kara Swisher, Executive Editor, Recode; Host, Recode Decode Podcast; Co-Executive Producer, Code Conference—Moderator

Uber makes complimentary and controversial headlines every day. Since its 2009 launch, it’s been influencing the minds and phones of millions worldwide. But what do we really know about Uber, and, more importantly, what lies ahead?

In the last eight years as a leader in the on-demand economy, Uber has battled lawmakers and competitors in emerging markets, facing protests and riots in cities from Paris to Mumbai; it has hustled to build the first self-driving car while also responding to major employee allegations. CEO Travis Kalanick is known as a ruthless businessman, appearing in the news almost as often as the Silicon Valley giant he runs. With competition from the likes of Google and Lyft, the company is valued at billions—and now there’s talk of an initial public offering (IPO). Uber continues to rise in value and global impact even while questions around finances, leadership, valuation and the future continue to arise. The question remains: What else should the public know?

Join Adam Lashinsky, journalist and best-selling author of Inside Apple, for a conversation about his new book, Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination. Lashinsky will dive deep into the Uber universe, discussing what’s on the horizon for the company the world can’t stop talking about.

Thu 6/15

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Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 15, 2017
Time: 2:00 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.

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Life After Diagnosis! How to Live Well with Serious Illness

Date: Thu, June 15, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Surviving serious illness

Steven Z. Pantilat, M.D., Professor of Medicine, the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco; Kates-Burnard and Hellman Distinguished Professor in Palliative Care; Founding Director, the UCSF Palliative Care Program

Dr. Steven Pantilat is a renowned international expert in palliative care. He will discuss the cultural myths that get in the way of our receiving good care and living life fully with serious illness. When you or someone you love receives a diagnosis of a serious illness, it can be devastating. Yet the time after a serious diagnosis, which can be years or decades, is the rest of your life. The essential question is how to live that life as well as possible for as long as possible. Based on decades of experience, Dr. Pantilat will offer clear, sage and practical tips for living well with serious illness. This program is for those with serious illness and the family and friends who love them.

Fri 6/16

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Mineta Transportation Summit

Date: Fri, June 16, 2017
Time: 8:15 AM

Are We There Yet? 
Bridging the Gap in California’s Transportation Funding

Underwritten by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI)

The need to invest in California’s transportation system is dire. Estimates suggest a nearly $140 billion backlog in deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, and local streets and roads. While the funding crisis is widely recognized, solutions are difficult to come by. Senate Bill 1, passed by the California State Legislature in early April, dedicates over $50 billion to transportation projects through increased fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, yet that only partially fills the gap. This free, half-day summit looks at various strategies the state, local and regional governments as well as transportation agencies are taking to address California’s transportation needs. MTI will present the results from the eighth year of a national public opinion poll on various tax options for raising federal revenues for transportation.

Confirmed speakers
Welcome: Karen Philbrick, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute
Opening remarks: Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation (Ret.)
Keynote: Jim Beall, Chairman, California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee

Panelists
Asha Agrawal, Ph.D., Director, Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center; Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, San Jose State University
Nuria Fernandez, General Manager and CEO, Valley Transportation Authority
Steve Heminger, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Bill Higgins, Executive Director, California Association of Councils of Governments

Mon 6/19

Image - Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening

Date: Mon, June 19, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Women's right to drive

Manal al-Sharif, B.S., Computer Science; Women's Rights Activist
Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., International Law and Diplomacy—Moderator

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

Manal al-Sharif, who was named one of Times' 100 most influential people in 2012 and received the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, went from being a niqab-wearing conservative to one of the most eminent voices of the women's rights movement in the Middle East. Although she was the first woman to work in the information security division of Armco, she was forbidden to drive off campus. In 2011, when she learned that the driving ban for women was custom and not law, al-Sharif became the face of the Women2Drive movement. She was imprisoned after posting a video of herself driving. Al-Sharif will describe her fascinating story and provide an enlightened look at the current state of women in Saudi society.

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Pinchos, Tapas and the Perfect Pairings

Date: Mon, June 19, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
An evening of food and wine

Join us for a unique Spanish experience at La Catalana. Delicious "pinchos" and "tapas" (snacks served at Spanish bars) will be accompanied by wines that are exclusive to La Catalana and cannot be found anywhere else in the United States. Don’t miss this chance to enjoy an informal evening of food and wine, Spanish style.

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Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour 6/19/17

Date: Mon, June 19, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Carson Bruno, Assistant Dean for Admission and Program Relations, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Author, California Realpolitik Newsletter; Twitter
Dan Schnur, Director, Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics, University of Southern California; Twitter
Additional Panelist TBA

Let's get together for a special summertime Week to Week.

It's never a dull moment in politics these days, and we'll discuss 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). 

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Socrates Café

Date: Mon, June 19, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ongoing Socrates forum
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.