Upcoming Events

Tue 11/4

Image - Adam Michnik, Polish Activist and Journalist

Adam Michnik, Polish Activist and Journalist

Date: Tue, November 04, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
The Trouble with Democracy After Communism

Adam Michnik, Polish Activist; Editor-in-Chief, Gazeta Wyborcza, Author, The Trouble with History: Morality, Revolution, and Counterrevolution

The Trouble with Democracy After Communism

Adam Michnik was a leader of the anti-Communist opposition in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s. He is the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, a daily newspaper often referred to as “The New York Times of Eastern Europe.” He is among Poland’s most prominent public figures, with a distinctive voice dedicated to dialogue, tolerance and freedom.

Michnik was a leading figure in the 1968 student movement in Warsaw, a co-founder of KOR (Committee for the Defense of Workers) in 1976, and a prominent Solidarity activist in the 1980s. In 1989, he participated in the Round Table Talks, which resulted in Poland’s nonviolent transition to democracy, and he served as a deputy in Poland’s first non-communist parliament. He is the author of several books and countless essays, analyses and interviews. Today, he regularly travels throughout the world, giving lectures on democracy, totalitarianism and the paradoxes and dilemmas of contemporary politics.

Wed 11/5

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Wed, November 05, 2014
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore the neighborhood near the Club's future home.

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 two-hour tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Go to Humanities West Book Discussion - A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Humanities West Book Discussion - A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Date: Wed, November 05, 2014
Time: 5:30 PM
A lucid account of the abuse of history.

Join us to discuss Harvard classics professor Christopher Krebs' lucid account of the abuse of history. Germania, written in 98 C.E. by the Roman official Tacitus, was lost for centuries but resurfaced around 1500. It launched a primitivist myth of ancient Germans as freedom-loving warriors, uncultured but honorable, in contrast with decadent Romans. In fact, Tacitus probably never visited Germany. He wrote for a Roman audience that shared his romantic view of northern barbarians. But enthusiastic German readers from Luther to Himmler ignored Tacitus's disparaging comments and misread passages to confirm their prejudices. Krebs warns against this irresistible human yearning to find written proof of one's ideology. Lynn Harris will lead the discussion.

Image - New Food Revolution

New Food Revolution

Date: Wed, November 05, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Feeding 9 billion people is a daunting challenge.

Karen Ross, California Secretary of Food and Agriculture; Former Deputy U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 
Jonathan Foley, Executive Director, California Academy of Sciences 
Walter Robb, Co-CEO, Whole Foods 

Feeding 9 billion people on a hot planet is a daunting challenge. California can play a leading role, but its searing drought is stressing its ability to be the world’s fruit basket and salad bowl.

Does the solution involve organic food, industrial monoculture, GMOs or all of the above? What can Americans do to make food choices that support change in the food system? 

A recent cover story in National Geographic outlined Jonathan Foley’s five-step plan to feed a hot and crowded world. We’ll discuss that plan for food security with Dr. Foley and two food leaders from the top levels of government and business.

Image - A History of the World According to Beer

A History of the World According to Beer

Date: Wed, November 05, 2014
Time: 6:30 PM
William Bostwick, Beer Critic, Author

William Bostwick, Beer Critic; Author, The Brewer’s Tale: A History of the World According to Beer

Ever wonder when the first beer was brewed? Or, better yet, how it tasted? In his latest book, The Brewer’s Tale, home-brewer and beer critic William Bostwick uncovers the stories of brewers past – the unknown recipes, the odd ingredients, and the long-lost flavors – telling a history of the world through the eyes of brewers throughout the centuries. Join Bostwick as he celebrates the beers of ages past and raise a glass to the fermented magic we all know and love.

Thu 11/6

Go to Betsy Andrews, Acting Editor-in Chief, Saveur Magazine

Betsy Andrews, Acting Editor-in Chief, Saveur Magazine

Date: Thu, November 06, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
How to Be a Top Chef at Home

Betsy Andrews, Acting Editor-in Chief, Saveur Magazine

How to Be a Top Chef at Home

Andrews will highlight the world’s best recipes for the modern home kitchen, giving tips and detailing the stories behind the dishes. Her well-curated global dishes and authentic, from-the-source recipes provide a foundation for any home cook looking for inspiration.

Andrews is the former Deputy Editor of Saveur and editor of the new Saveur Drink. She is a former New York Times Food Critic and Zagat Editor. She has also written about food and drink for Chow, Eater, Arrive and other publications.

Image - Zen's Chinese Heritage

Zen's Chinese Heritage

Date: Thu, November 06, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A deep exploration of the spiritual and political origins of Chinese Chan.

Andy Ferguson, Chinese Language and Literature Expert; Author, Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings

Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism occupies a unique position in Chinese society. The religion’s history is deeply intertwined with Chinese philosophy and politics. How has this ancient teaching survived China’s explosion of consumerism? Are existing Chinese Chan temples true repositories of an authentic tradition, or are they empty storefronts for a philosophy forgotten or misunderstood?

Andy Ferguson is the author of Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings, a large compendium of the ancient teachings of more than a 150 ancient Chan masters from China’s “Golden Age” of Chan. His other book, Tracking Bodhidharma, is a deep exploration of the spiritual and political origins of Chinese Chan. In that text, Ferguson demonstrates that the religion’s philosophical origins are as surprising as its history of political influence, an influence with a bizarre relationship with some of the 20th century’s most tragic events.

Fri 11/7

Image - The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

Date: Fri, November 07, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Miriam Pawel, Author, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

On November 9, 1984, at the invitation of then-President Shirley Temple Black, Cesar Chavez gave a memorable lecture at the Club. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Miriam Pawel will describe the details of the complex life of Chavez, one of the great iconic leaders of the 20th century, one of the most celebrated Latinos in U.S. history and one of the most effective labor organizers California has ever seen. Now that Chavez is once again the focus of public attention, a balanced view of his contributions and his difficulties is all the more valuable.

Mon 11/10

Image - 33 Artists in 3 Acts: Politics, Kinship and Craft

33 Artists in 3 Acts: Politics, Kinship and Craft

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Sarah Thornton, Author  

Sarah Thornton is a sociologist of art and a regular contributor to The Economist, whose bestseller Seven Days in the Art World explored the cutthroat yet glamorous cultural phenomenon of the contemporary art market. She will report the stories resulting from worldwide interviews about “what is an artist?” from her latest book, 33 Artists in 3 Acts, concerning politics, kinship and craft. Thornton writes that those narratives “demarcate the ideological border that differentiates artists from non-artists, or ‘real artists’ from unimpressive ones.” Artists interviewed include Jeff Koons, Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, and Cindy Sherman, among others from 14 countries on 5 continents.

Image - Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Umpire or Empire? The History and Future of American Leadership

Date: Mon, November 10, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Monday Night Philosophy

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Dwight Stanford Professor of American Foreign Relations, San Diego State University; National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Monday Night Philosophy dives into the history of U.S. foreign policy. Most historians believe the U.S. is an empire; the past two presidents and most of the public disagree. What does it matter? Hoffman offers a challenging new interpretation of America's past with important implications for the way forward.

Wed 11/12

Image - Jamie Metzl: Are China and the U.S. Headed for a Genetic Arms Race?

Jamie Metzl: Are China and the U.S. Headed for a Genetic Arms Race?

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Jamie Metzl, Novelist; Former U.S. Security Official

Novelist and Asia expert Jamie Metzl's new novel, Genesis Code, tells of a future genetic arms race between China and the United States. It is fiction – for now – but Metzl, who worked in the Clinton National Security Council and State Department and is the former executive vice president of the Global Asia Society, will discuss how the U.S.-China rivalry, marked by tensions in the South and East China Seas, in cyberspace, outer space and elsewhere, is heating up around the world. With the science of human genetic engineering rapidly advancing, there is a significant possibility that today's science fiction will be tomorrow's reality and that great power interests might soon dictate the course of genetically modified human evolution.

Image - The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

The Power of Community - Senior Cohousing

Date: Wed, November 12, 2014
Time: 5:15 PM
 Charles Durrett, AIA; Architect; Author

Charles DurrettAIA; Architect; Author, The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living; Co-author, A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves

Today we can text our sibling to find out what they are having for lunch in Paris, but we don’t know the name of our next-door neighbor nor his or her birthday – unless you’ve looked up him or her on PoliceReport.com – because shouldn’t we know who our neighbor is? It’s only prudent to be precautious. Learn how seniors are countering the pathologies in our society today by affecting their personal lives and collective lives and affecting society positively by planning new cohousing communities. They bring environmental ethics, justice, village life – community to the table. A real work by real people with real values and real lives who make an environment that responds to their real needs. How romantic is community? Very; everyone is talking about it in the abstract. How realistic is community? Very; there are lots of folks around North America who have decided that this important complement in our lives – community – needs to be revived. Come learn about this momentous social movement from a prime mover.

 

Thu 11/13

Go to Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Leadership: The Power Behind the Throne

Date: Thu, November 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Richard Hytner, Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

Richard Hytner, Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi; Adjunct Associate Professor of Marketing, London Business School; Author, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows

The key to success lies in getting to the top, right? Wrong! It’s time to celebrate the second-in-command. These are the V.P’s, COOs, First Lieutenants and First Violins whose influence can determine the fate of countries and companies: Merlin to King Arthur, Al Gore to Bill Clinton, Rasputin to the Russian royal family. Learn how influence, authority and power can be found in much more interesting places than behind the CEO’s desk.

Fri 11/14

Go to Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Professional Sports

Are Professional Athletes Underpaid? Money and the Culture of Professional Sports

Date: Fri, November 14, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Discussion with Leland Faust and Duane Kuiper

Leland Faust, Founder and Chairman, CSI Capital Management; Member, Sporting News Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports
Duane Kuiper, Emmy Award-winning Play-by-play Announcer, San Francisco Giants; Former Major League Baseball Player, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants
Kevin O’Malley, President, Tech Talk/Studio – Moderator

Get an inside look at how money shapes the culture of professional sports and influence decisions both on and off the field. Learn from the insiders how the mixture of entertainment and money results in today’s complex professional sports industry and the range of players’ salaries.

Mon 11/17

Image - Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Up the Ladder: Women Pursuing Careers in Science and Technology

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
A personal discussion about working in male-dominated fields.

Hilary K. Seligman, M.D., MAS, Associate Professor in Residence, Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF
Diane Wara, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF
Eva Cole, Student, Holy Names High School, Oakland; Alumna, Girls Who Code
Sara Seims, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Population and Reproductive Health Program, Packard Foundation – Moderator

How and why do women decide to pursue careers in science and technology? What is the reaction of their family, friends, teachers and others? This panel of three women at three different points in their careers – early, middle and advanced – will discuss the experiences that have supported and challenged their career pursuits. Come learn from their stories and hear ideas about how to attract more women to areas of science where they are still greatly under-represented, such as engineering and mathematics.

Image - John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

John Cleese - Monty Python Actor and Comedian

Date: Mon, November 17, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
A grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world.

John Cleese, Actor; Writer; Producer; Author, So, Anyway…

Join Cleese as he takes us on a grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town to the pinnacle of comedy and worldwide success.

With his signature characters – the Minister of Silly Walks and the owner (and would-be returner) of a dead parrot – Cleese's work with Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers has become legendary. His hit films Monty Python and the Holy GrailLife of Brian and A Fish Called Wanda, and his memorable roles in James Bond and Shrek have put him in a class of his own. From his hilarious tweets and new memoir, hear more from this towering comedic genius.

Tue 11/18

Image - Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Progress and Hope: Restoring the Mighty Colorado River and Delta

Date: Tue, November 18, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
The challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

James Redford, Chair, Redford Center Board; Producer, Watershed
John Shepard, Co-Interim CEO and Senior Advisor, Sonoran Institute
Jill Tidman, Executive Director, Redford Center; Producer, Watershed
Francesca Vietor, Commissioner, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Program Director, San Francisco Foundation

For more than 6 million years, the Colorado River has served as the lifeblood of the American West, including what is now California. Today the river runs dry 70 miles before it reaches its delta and the sea. However, in May 2014, the river reached the delta and sea briefly for the first time in decades. Learn how Raise the River is marshaling support for the Colorado and raising awareness to restore a great national treasure by bringing back life to the delta region’s wetlands and marshes, and provide much-needed help to western communities in the United States and Mexico. Join us for a discussion on the challenges and progress in the Colorado River’s struggle to reach the ocean.

Wed 11/19

Image - Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Tr

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Difficulty of Speaking the Truth

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM

Harriet Elinor Smith, Editor

Mark Twain wanted to write a completely candid autobiography, without "shirkings of the truth," so he decided to speak from the grave 100 years after his death. The Mark Twain Papers Project at the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has fulfilled that desire. Editor Smith will discuss Twain's numerous observations about the difficulty of speaking the truth, and the strategies he adopted to remove his inhibitions, illustrating her talk with passages he suppressed during his lifetime. Come hear Mark Twain's "whole, frank mind" highlighted by his characteristic blend of humor and ire.

Image - Waterfront Walk

Waterfront Walk

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore the neighborhood surrounding the Club's future home.

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 two-hour tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Go to Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Wed, November 19, 2014
Time: 6:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues

The Humanities Forum brings Socrates Café to The Commonwealth Club. It will be held every third Wednesday evening for the discussion of philosophical issues. At each monthly meeting the group's facilitator, Bob Enteen, will invite participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic will briefly explain why she or he considers the subject interesting and important. An open discussion will follow, ending with a summary. Everyone is welcome to attend.