Upcoming Events

Wed 5/25

Image - Dr. James Madara

James Madara, M.D., CEO, American Medical Association: The Future of Health Care

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

James Madara, M.D., Executive Vice President and CEO, American Medical Association; Former Dean, University of Chicago School of Medicine

The AMA, founded in 1847, is the largest association of physicans in the United States, with the stated goal of enhancing the delivery of care and enabling physicians and health teams to partner effectively with patients to achieve better health for all. Join AMA CEO Dr. James Madara for a candid conversation about bringing down the costs of medicine while still treating patients with the highest standards.

Dr. Madara will particularly address what he says is America’s biggest health threat: costly, chronic diseases and their toll on public health and the economy. He says the future of health care is combating these diseases before they become life-altering ailments, and harnessing the power of technological innovation to empower today’s physicians and better train those of tomorrow. Bring your questions. 

Mark Kurlansky: The History of Paper

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Mark Kurlansky, Author, Cod, Salt, and Paper: Paging Through History

For the past two millennia, paper has been one of the simplest pieces of human technology. It has formed the foundation of civilizations and promoted revolutions. It has also been essential to the development of education, commerce, arts, religion, and language. But what will we start to lose as we continue to move toward a paperless society?

Kurlansky traces the evolution of paper and explains why paper will never go out of style.

Thu 5/26

Image - Francine Brevetti

How to Write Your Own (or Someone Else's) Obituary

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Francine Brevetti, Biographer; Author; Workshop Leader; Journalist

Brevetti will take a step-by-step approach to explaining one of the most difficult tasks that most people face—and typically under difficult circumstances. Writing one's own obituary can save a loved one from that responsibility, provided the relative is able to complete it on their own. Step by step, Ms. Brevetti will lead the audience through the process of where to find resources that might be available to help, the proper format and contents, and publishing the obituary.

Why take chances? Learn from a professional how to write your own obituary, or that of someone else.

Image - Jessica Herrin

Cultivate Your Entrepreneurial Spirit with Jessica Herrin, CEO of Stella and Dot

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO, Stella & Dot Family Brands; Author, Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms
Jory Des Jardins, Author, Media Strategist and Co-founder, BlogHer—Moderator

Serial entrepreneur Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of the Stella & Dot Family Brands and author of the new book Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, will explain how you can turn your passion into your career and live the life that you've always dreamed of by cultivating your entrepreneurial spirit.

Fri 5/27

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, May 27, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

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.

Wed 6/1

Image - Jan Ellison

A Small Indiscretion

Date: Wed, June 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jan Ellison, Author, A Small Indiscretion

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

Jan Ellison's debut novel, A Small Indiscretion, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2015. A graduate of Stanford, Jan left college for a year at 19 to study French in Paris, work in an office in London, and try her hand at writing. Twenty years later, her notes from that year became the germ of her acclaimed debut. She will discuss that journey, along with the long and winding road — paved with rejection and revision — to publishing her first short story, which went on to win an O. Henry Prize.

Image - How to Change the World: A User's Guide

How to Change the World: A User's Guide

Date: Wed, June 01, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Larry Brilliant, M.D., Chairman, Skoll Global Threats; Former Executive Director, Google.org
Wavy Gravy, Entertainer, 60's Icon, Activist, Philanthropist
Zoë Elton, Director of Programming, Mill Valley Film Festival—Moderator

Long-time friends, humanitarians and cultural heroes Larry Brilliant and Wavy Gravy share stories about what it takes to live your dreams, to live “ambitiously without ambition”—and to change the world. Their accomplishments, both individually and together, are extraordinary, manifesting the best of sixties idealism.

Best remembered for his role at Woodstock and as a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, clown, entertainer and peace activist Wavy Gravy’s love for humanity transcends his hippie stereotype. He founded Camp Winnarainbow—a circus and performing arts camp for children—and co-founded the Seva Foundation with Larry Brilliant.

Dr. Larry Brilliant has spent his life finding solutions for humanity’s greatest ills, notably overseeing the eradication of the last cases of smallpox, saving millions from blindness, and building technologies for the future. Today, he is chairman of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, addressing global threats such as climate change, pandemics and nuclear proliferation, and is a recent TED Prize winner.

Thu 6/2

Image - Sherry Turkle

Managing the Impact of Technology on Our Lives

Date: Thu, June 02, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Sherry Turkle, Ph.D, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society; MIT; Founder and Director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self; Harvard Centennial Medalist; Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year; Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Sherry Turkle, M.I.T. professor, researcher, consultant and author, will discuss the timely topic of digital influences on our personal lives, from how we relate to our family, friends, and lovers, plus how technology affects how we think, conduct our business, our productivity, creativity and innovation. The emphasis will be on the strategies to reintroduce conversation and put technology in a supporting, not default, mode of communication.

Referred to by many as the "Margaret Mead of digital culture," Professor Turkle has 30 years of experience researching the psychology of people’s relationship with technology. She is the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. She has a long list of awards and honors, has delighted audiences on all the major networks, and has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications.

A Perfect Brew: Blue Bottle Coffee and Japan's Culture

Date: Thu, June 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

James Freeman, Founder and CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee; Author, The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

The Bay Area’s own Blue Bottle Coffee is known for its delicious coffee, clean, modern spaces and rapid expansion. Entering the Japanese market had been a longtime dream for Blue Bottle Coffee founder James Freeman, an enthusiastic fan of Japanese culture. Blue Bottle uses Japanese equipment and embraces the Japanese tradition of kodawari, or pursuit of perfection in one’s craft. Freeman has made numerous visits to Japan, and recently celebrated the opening of a Blue Bottle outlet in Tokyo.

Join us as Freeman shares the story of Blue Bottle’s Japan market entry, from adjustments the company made to Japanese culture (and what they didn’t change), to its most interesting and surprising Japan experiences, as well as the inspiration he draws from Japan’s traditions.

Fri 6/3

Image - Robert Heller

The Unlikely Governor: From the Caves to the Federal Reserve

Date: Fri, June 03, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Robert Heller, Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Former President, VISA U.S.A.; Author, The Unlikely Governor

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

Robert Heller chronicles his journey from the caves and cellars of war-ravaged Germany to the United States and his eventual rise to be a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and president and CEO of VISA USA. Accompanied by never-ending disasters, his career takes him through academia, business and government service as he witnesses the collapse of the international monetary system, the near failure of Bank of America and the most monumental banking crisis in U.S. history. 

Mon 6/6

Image - Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland, Australia Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Date: Mon, June 06, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Queensland as the gateway to Asia-Pacific investment.

Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, MP, Premier of Queensland, Australia
Jeffrey Bleich, Former U.S. Ambassador to Australia—Moderator
Introduction by Dr. Jaleh Daie, Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Queensland is Australia’s second largest state and the third most populous, with more than 4.5 million inhabitants. The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, premier of Queensland, is one of her country’s leading political figures.

She will outline how her state is diversifying its economy from a traditional reliance on natural resources to innovation and ideas, and the potential that Queensland has as a launchpad for investment in the Asia-Pacific. She will also discuss the strategic importance of Australia to the world economy and international security. Ms Palaszczuk holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland, Master of Arts (Hons) from the University of London, Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland, and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University.

Image - Adrianna Quintero

Environment and Climate Action: Priority for Latinos

Date: Mon, June 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adrianna Quintero, Director and Founder, Voces Verdes; Director, Partner Engagement, Natural Resources Defense Council

The Hispanic Public Policy Agenda, of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), has designated environment and climate action as a priority for Latinos. The NHLA emphasizes the importance of Hispanic leadership on critical environmental and sustainable issues to their communities and neighborhoods.

Latinos face some of the most serious environmental problems. They disproportionately suffer the effects of environmental harm and climate change. Latinos are among the most concerned about climate impacts and some of the most committed to calling for action to address and move toward a clean energy future. For Latino families and communities, environmental issues are real and personal not just for now but for earth's future.

Join us for this important discussion about the bold policy agreements among Hispanic leaders to create and maintain healthy, safe and sustainable environments locally and worldwide.

Wed 6/8

Image - Joshua Kendall

Joshua Kendall: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

Date: Wed, June 08, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
What do the First Dads have to tell us?

Joshua Kendall, Associate Fellow, Trumbull College, Yale; Author, First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

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

Work-life balance is a constant struggle for parents, but how does it change when you are the president of the United States?

Of the 43 men who have served as U.S. president, 38 have biological children and 5 have adopted children. Kendall offers a fascinating look at these First Dads and what their individual parenting style reveals about their personal beliefs and leadership qualities.

Thu 6/9

Image - Anja Manuel

Anja Manuel: The New Superpowers

Date: Thu, June 09, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Can the United States be partners and not opponents of China and India?

Anja Manuel, Co-founder and Partner, RiceHadleyGates LLC; Author, This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States; Twitter

In the next decade and a half, China and India will become two of the world’s indispensable powers—whether they rise peacefully or not. During that time, Asia will surpass the combined strength of North America and Europe in economic might, population size, and military spending. India and China will have vetoes over many international decisions, from climate change to global trade, human rights, and business standards.

From her front row view of this colossal shift, first at the State Department and now as an advisor to American business leaders, Anja Manuel will take us on an intimate tour of the corridors of power in Delhi and Beijing. We wring our hands about China, Manuel writes, while we underestimate India, which will be the most important country outside the West to shape China’s rise. Manuel shows us that a different path is possible: We can bring China and India along as partners rather than alienating one or both, and thus extend our own leadership in the world.

Fri 6/10

Jordan

Date: Fri, June 10, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Report from a visit to the strategically and historically important Middle Eastern land.

Maher Kalaji, Ph.D.
Celia Menczel, Chair, Middle East Member-Led Forum

Jordan, a strong American ally, is one of the most strategically important countries in the Middle East. It is also one of the most welcoming. However, tourists to Jordan were markedly fewer this March when Menczel toured Jordanian archeological sites, including Petra, one of the seven new wonders of the world. She will show images and discuss her wonderful experience with Professor Kalaji (and one other Jordanian to be named.)

Mon 6/13

Image - 85th Annual California Book Awards

85th Annual California Book Awards

Date: Mon, June 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

The California Book Awards is sponsored by Bank of the West.

Since 1931, The Commonwealth Club has honored the Golden State’s literary giants at the California Book Awards. At our special awards ceremony, we will bestow gold and silver medals in several categories, including fiction, non-fiction, first fiction, poetry, young adult and juvenile.

Come hear from some of California’s most gifted writers. See you at the ceremony!

The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

Date: Mon, June 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology, UC Berkeley; Co-Director, Greater Good Science Center; Author, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

Monday Night Philosophy investigates a revolutionary reconsideration of power. It is taken for granted that power corrupts. This is reinforced culturally by everything from Machiavelli to contemporary politics. But enduring power only comes from empathy and giving, because power is given to us by other people.

This is the crux of the power paradox: by fundamentally misunderstanding the behaviors that helped us to gain power in the first place, we set ourselves up to fall from power. We can't retain it because we've never understood it correctly. Dr. Keltner lays out exactly—in 20 original "Power Principles"—how to retain power, why power can be a demonstrably good thing, and the terrible consequences of letting those around us languish in powerlessness.

Tue 6/14

Image - Bruce Bochy

San Francisco Giants' Bruce Bochy: Insights on Baseball and Life

Date: Tue, June 14, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Bruce Bochy, Manager, San Francisco Giants; Three Time World Series Champion; Two Time National League Manager of the Year; Author, A Book of Walks 
In conversation with Roy Eisenhardt, Lecturer in Sports Law, UC Berkeley Law School; Former President, Oakland A's

Part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer has stated that hiring Bruce Bochy was "probably the best move [Giants management] ever made.” Here’s a chance to get Bruce Bochy’s take on the Giants 2016 season and on his personal side as well. As a Major League manager, Bochy has one of the more stressful jobs imaginable. What does he do to relax? He goes for long walks as a way to clear his head, calm his soul and give his body a workout, all of which is the subject of his new book, A Book of Walks.

Here’s a rare chance to meet Bruce Bochy off the field. Bring your questions.

Wed 6/15

Image - Time to Choose

Time to Choose

Date: Wed, June 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Screening and filmmaker discussion.

Charles Ferguson, Oscar-Winning Director, Inside Job

This documentary from Academy Award winner Charles Ferguson examines the power of climate solutions already available. Through interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs, innovators and brave individuals living on the front lines of climate change, Ferguson takes an In-depth look at the remarkable people working to save our economy and planet.

Post-screening conversation with Charles Ferguson and Climate One’s Greg Dalton.

Thu 6/16

Image - Dr Lucy Kalanithi

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi: When Breath Becomes Air

Date: Thu, June 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Lucy Kalanithi, M.D., Faculty, Stanford School of Medicine; Widow of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, Author of When Breath Becomes Air
In conversation with Mark Zitter, Co-founder and Former Chairman, Vital Decisions

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

Stanford neurosurgery resident Paul Kalanithi was 36 years old when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A gifted writer, he spent the last two years of his life giving birth to both a baby and a book. When Breath Becomes Air describes his experience as a doctor facing a terminal illness. The book became an instant hit, reaching number one on The New York Times best-seller list. Paul Kalanithi’s widow, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, shepherded the book through publication and wrote a moving epilogue. She will be interviewed by Mark Zitter as part of the Commonwealth Club’s ongoing series on end-of-life issues. The session will include readings from the book.

An internist on faculty at the Stanford School of Medicine, Dr. Kalanithi completed her medical degree at Yale, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society. She did her residency at the University of California San Francisco and postdoctoral fellowship training in health-care delivery innovation at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center. At the cross-section of her career as a medical professional and her personal experience standing alongside her husband during his life, diagnosis, treatment and death, Dr. Kalanithi has special interests in health-care value, meaning in medicine, patient-centered care and end-of-life care. She has appeared on "PBS NewsHour," "NPR Morning Edition," and "Yahoo News with Katie Couric," and has been interviewed by People and The New York Times. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.