Upcoming Events

Mon 6/22

Image - Haiku Across Borders: From Japan to the United States

Haiku Across Borders: From Japan to the United States . . . and Back Again? Perspectives of an American Haiku Poet

Date: Mon, June 22, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With former U.S. diplomat Abigail Friedman

Abigail Friedman, Haiku Poet; Author, The Haiku Apprentice: Memoirs of Writing Poetry in Japan; Former U.S. Diplomat

Haiku, the 17-syllable poetic form from Japan, is today written by haiku poets worldwide - from 2011 Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, to American writer Richard Wright, to elementary school children across America. How has this traditional Japanese art form been understood – and misunderstood – as it made its way from Japan to America? How is haiku being written in Japan and America today and what can those two countries learn from each other? Abigail Friedman is a haiku poet, author and former diplomat posted at the U.S. Embassy in Japan. She won first prize at the Mainichi International Haiku Contest in Japan in 2014. Firmly planted in the worlds of haiku in Japan and North America, she will share her unique perspective.

Tue 6/23

Image - Peter Coyote: On Zen, Politics and An Amazing Life

Peter Coyote: On Zen, Politics and An Amazing Life

Date: Tue, June 23, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Actor, activist and author

Peter Coyote, Actor; Activist; Author, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education

Part of The Club’s Good Lit Series, Underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation

Coyote’s new spiritual biography details a life that has taken him from privileged halls of power to Greenwich Village jazz bars, to jail, to the White House, to government service, and finally to international success on stage and screen. He describes the wide range of mentors who shaped him—a violent, intimidating father; a bebop bass player who taught him that life can be improvised; a Mafia consiglieri who demonstrated to him that men can be bought and manipulated; a gay dancer in Martha Graham’s company who enlightened him about Mexico and marijuana; and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, who introduced him to Zen practice. Through Zen, Coyote says he discovered an alternative to status seeking and material wealth. Come hear first-hand his amazing journey and its lessons for all of us.

Wed 6/24

Image - Adam Benforado: The New Science of Criminal Justice

Adam Benforado: The New Science of Criminal Justice

Date: Wed, June 24, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
How can we achieve true fairness and equality before the law?

Adam Benforado, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University; Author, Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice; Twitter @Benforado

A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. Law professor Benforado says the evidence is all around us that our system of justice is fundamentally broken. But he argues that it’s not for the reasons many people think. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we might still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. He says this is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us. Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, looking at evidence suggesting that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning. He lays out the scope of the legal system’s dysfunction and proposes practical reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law.

Thu 6/25

Image - North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Thu, June 25, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans
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 - How to Clone a Mammoth--The Science of De-Extinction

How to Clone a Mammoth – The Science of De-Extinction

Date: Thu, June 25, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Could mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life?
Beth Shapiro, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz.
 
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in "ancient DNA" research, will discuss the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research – as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Paabo, George Church and Craig Venter – Shapiro considers de-extinction's practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal? Shapiro's work has appeared in numerous publications, including Nature and Science, and she is a 2009 recipient of a MacArthur Award.
Image - Inforum Informal

INFORUM Informal

Date: Thu, June 25, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM

Fri 6/26

Fund Federal Transportation Investment Now

Date: Fri, June 26, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM

Keynote Speaker:
Hon. Jim Beall, California State Senator (D)

Panelists:
Hon. Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation (ret)
Asha Agrawal, Director, Mineta Transportation Institute National Transportation Finance Center
Grace Crunican, General Manager, BART
Carl Guardino, Past Chair, California Transportation Commission
Michael Melaniphy, CEO, American Public Transportation Association
Karen Philbrick, Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute - Moderator

This year's policy summit will feature experts representing viewpoints from local, state and national levels discussing the challenges facing the U.S. transportation infrastructure. These leaders will also examine the results from the latest national survey polling Americans about transportation taxes.

Mon 6/29

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 6/29/15

Date: Mon, June 29, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Engaging commentary on political and other major news.

Joe Garofoli, Political Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter @joegarofoli
Debra J. Saunders, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; “Token Conservative” Blogger, SFGate.com; Twitter @debrajsaunders

Additional panelist TBA

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 6/30

Image - Almonds and Lawns

Almonds and Lawns

Date: Tue, June 30, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
A discussion about a dry year.

Ellen Hanak, Director, Water Policy, Public Policy Institute of California
Felicia Marcus, Chair, California State Water Resources Board

With the severity of California’s drought starting to sink in, urban and agricultural users are sparring over who should do more to step up. Lawns are getting killed. Should almond trees be next? Alfalfa or cotton? Is Governor Brown’s plan a good one? Is he playing favorites?

A discussion about a dry year and what could be a long, dry run in our semi-arid state.

Image - Michael Oren: Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States

Michael Oren: Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States

Date: Tue, June 30, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Author, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide

Michael Oren, Former Israeli Ambassador, United States; Author, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide; Twitter: @DrMichaelOren

Co-presented by The Oshman Family JCC

New York Times bestselling author Michael B. Oren’s memoir of his time as Israel’s ambassador to the United States – a period of transformative change for America and a time of violent upheaval throughout the Middle East – provides a frank, fascinating look inside the special relationship between America and its closest ally in the region. On more than one occasion, however, some feared that the American and Israeli friendship seemed close to unraveling. Ally is the story of that enduring alliance – and of its divides – written from the perspective of a man who treasures his American identity while proudly serving the Jewish state he has come to call home. 

Wed 7/1

Image - Ebola and the Evacuation of Peace Corps in Guinea

Ebola and the Evacuation of Peace Corps in Guinea

Date: Wed, July 01, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
A panel of Peace Corps volunteers evacuated from Guinea

Lisa Hoffman, Peace Corps Volunteer, Guinea, 2013-2014
Veronica Canilao, Peace Corps Volunteer, Guinea, 2013-2014
Hilary Braseth, Peace Corps Volunteer, Guinea, 2011-2014
Frank Price, Peace Corps Volunteer, Cote d’Ivoire, 1969-1972; Secretary, Northern California Peace Corps Association – Moderator

On July 30, 2014, Peace Corps announced the evacuation of over 100 volunteers from Guinea due to the Ebola epidemic. Recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers who served in Guinea will bring an on-the-ground perspective of the people and communities in the Ebola-affected region. They will discuss the conditions that allowed for its rapid spread, how the people in their communities reacted and what it was like to be evacuated, suddenly leaving friends and colleagues in the midst of crisis.

Thu 7/2

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Thu, July 02, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans
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 7/6

Book Discussion: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Date: Mon, July 06, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of the locks. When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that ultimately makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of the Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Wed 7/8

Image - Output: Body & Mind – Lowering the Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

Output: Body & Mind – Lowering the Risk for Alzheimer's Disease

Date: Wed, July 08, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Second in a series of three scientific talks.

Patricia Renaut Spilman, M.S., Senior Scientist, Buck Institute

Assisting Organization: The Buck Institute

In this second in a series of three scientific talks, Spilman will discuss the ability of exercise, social interaction, continuing intellectual and spiritual growth, and sensory stimulation to lower the risk or delay onset of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. A person’s engagement in the surrounding world is vital! The impact of sleep disturbances and stress – and how to address them – will be presented, as well as the science behind recent findings. Spilman is a scientist working on Alzheimer's disease drug discovery.

Image - Jessica Jackley: The Heart of Entrepreneurship

Jessica Jackley: The Heart of Entrepreneurship

Date: Wed, July 08, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Jessica Jackley, Co-founder, Kiva; Author, Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least

This program is underwritten by Bank of the West.

In the tradition of Kabul Beauty School and Start Something That Matters comes an inspiring story of social entrepreneurship from the co-founder of Kiva, the first online microlending platform for the working poor. Featuring lessons learned from successful businesses in the world’s poorest countries, Jessica Jackley’s Clay Water Brick will motivate readers to more deeply appreciate the incredible entrepreneurial potential that exists in every human being on this planet—especially themselves.

For as long as she could remember, Jackley, the co-founder of the revolutionary microlending site Kiva, had a singular and urgent ambition: to help alleviate global poverty. While in her twenties, she set off for Africa to finally meet the people she had long dreamed of helping. The insights of those she met changed her understanding. Today she believes that many of the most inspiring entrepreneurs in the world are not focused on high-tech ventures or making a lot of money; instead, they wake up every day and build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities, regardless of the things they lack or the obstacles they encounter. As Jackley puts it, “The greatest entrepreneurs succeed not because of what they possess but because of what they are determined to do.”

Join Jackley as she challenges all of us to embrace entrepreneurship as a powerful force for change in the world. She'll share her own story of founding Kiva with little more than a laptop and a dream, and the stories and the lessons she has learned from those across the globe who are doing the most with the least. 

Image - Alzheimer’s: New Insights and the Search for a Cure

Alzheimer’s: New Insights and the Search for a Cure

Date: Wed, July 08, 2015
Time: 7:45 PM
With Geoffrey Kerchner and Leonard Mucke

Geoffrey Kerchner, M.D., Ph.D.; Behavioral Neurologist and Associate Medical Director, Genentech, Inc.; Consulting Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University
Leonard Mucke, M.D.; Founding Director, Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease and Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology, UCSF|
Brian Kennedy, Ph.D.; CEO & President, The Buck Institute for Research on Aging – Moderator

Sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors

Everyone has high hopes that a cure for Alzheimer’s will be found soon. Two of our country’s prominent researchers and physicians will share their thoughts about the most promising discoveries, new diagnostic tools, what we can do to keep our memories stable, and what’s ahead.

Thu 7/9

Image - Chuck Palahniuk and Lidia Yuknavitch: A Night of Mayhem

Chuck Palahniuk and Lidia Yuknavitch: A Night of Mayhem

Date: Thu, July 09, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
"Contests, prizes, disturbing bedtimes stories and mayhem..."
Chuck Palahniuk, Author, Fight Club
Lidia Yuknavitch, Author, The Small Backs of Children
 
 In the words of Chuck Palahniuk…
 
“Join Chuck Palahniuk at the Castro Theater July 9th, where the air will be filled with color, noise and candy. It's a party to celebrate the release of Lidia Yuknavitch's newest novel, The Small Backs of Children, a major step forward from one of our most avidly watched writers – a masterful exploration of the treacherous, often violent borders between war and sex, love and art. Contests, prizes, disturbing bedtimes stories and mayhem will reign. As always, the wearing of sexy sleepwear is encouraged.”
 

Mon 7/13

Image - Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve

Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve

Date: Mon, July 13, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With Professor Ian Morris

Ian Morris, Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor of History, Stanford University; Author, Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve

Monday Night Philosophy explains why most people in the world today think democracy and gender equality are good, and violence and wealth inequality are bad, even though most people who lived before the 19th century thought just the opposite. Professor Morris argues that fundamental long-term changes in values are driven by the pursuit of energy, which humans have drawn from foraging, farming and fossil fuels. In forager bands, people who value equality, but are ready to settle problems violently do better. In farming societies, people who value hierarchy but are less willing to use violence do better. In fossil-fuel societies, equality is back but violence remains unacceptable. However, our ongoing revolution in energy capture could mean that our most cherished values could fundamentally change once again.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 7/13/15

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 7/13/15

Date: Mon, July 13, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Expert commentary that is smart, civil and humorous

Doug Sovern, Political and Investigative Reporter, KCBS Radio; Twitter @sovernnation
Panelists TBA

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 7/14

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, July 14, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans
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.