Upcoming Events

Tue 10/18

Image - Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek: Author and Optimist

Date: Tue, October 18, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Embrace working together to overcome challenges

Simon Sinek, Author, Start with Why and Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration; Twitter

Sinek's newest book, Together is Better, is a celebration of that simple human idea that we are better when we help each other than we are when we work alone.

Too often, we avoid asking for help when we need it or refuse to accept it when it’s offered for fear that it will make us look weak or put us or our job at risk. We often keep self-doubt to ourselves instead of turning to someone we trust for inspiration.

Together is Better has combined some of Sinek’s favorite quotes, amazing illustrations, storytelling and commentary. In the simplest way possible, Sinek reminds us what it means to be a leader, the courage it takes to ask for help and the value of working together. It is a story that illustrates the need for leaders to foster environments in which trust and cooperation can thrive.

Sinek, the best selling author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, has taught companies and employees around the world how to inspire people. He is known for popularizing the concept of “Why,” and his TED talk is the third most-watched presentation with more than 27 million views.

Wed 10/19

Image - Dr Gary Gottlieb

Better Health for the World’s Poorest Will Strengthen Global Security

Date: Wed, October 19, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Global health and global peace

Dr. Gary Gottlieb, CEO, Partners In Health

While the developed world enjoys economic and social advancement enabled by health-care improvements, millions of people around the world continue to die from 18th and 19th century illnesses. The world’s poorest people deserve access to the modern health care that people in wealthier countries take for granted. We not only can deliver modern health services, we must do so. Global health is a key to global order.

Dr. Gottlieb is the CEO of Partners In Health. From 2010 until February of 2015, he served as president and CEO of Partners HealthCare, the parent of the Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals, operating the largest health-care delivery organization in New England and among the nation’s largest nonprofit biomedical research and training enterprises. Dr. Gottlieb is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Co-founded by visionary humanitarians Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, current World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and others, Partners In Health today reaches 7 million people around the world and employs 18,000 people, including 15,000 local community health workers.

Image - Presidential Debate Watch Party
This event is Sold Out

Presidential Debate Watch Party 10/19

Date: Wed, October 19, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
Watch the debates

Join INFORUM, Brigade and KQED at the swanky Hotel Zetta to watch all three 2016 presidential debates!

This election cycle has already been full of unforgettable moments; you won't want to miss the opportunity to watch Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump face off live and debate the issues as they compete for your vote in November.

Bring your friends and your opinions, we'll provide the snacks and drinks!

Image - Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson in Conversation with Chris Cosentino

Date: Wed, October 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Kitchen adventures from Ethiopia to Sweden to Harlem

Marcus Samuelsson, Chef; Author, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem; Twitter:
In conversation with Chef Chris Cosentino

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

When Chef Samuelsson opened Red Rooster in Harlem, he envisioned more than just a restaurant. He wanted to create a melting pot that would highlight Harlem’s vibrant multicultural history with food, art and music.

A James Beard award-winner, Samuelsson reflects on his journey from Ethiopia to Sweden to Harlem, and all the kitchen adventures he has encountered along the way.

Image - Pascal Lee and Andy Weir and Mary Roach

Exploring Mars with Pascal Lee, Andy Weir and Mary Roach

Date: Wed, October 19, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How to turn the Earthling into the Martian.

Dr. Pascal Lee, Co-founder, Mars Institute; Planetary Scientist, SETI Institute; Principal Investigator of the Haughton-Mars Project, NASA Ames Research Center; Author, Mission: Mars
Andy Weir, Author, The Martian
Mary Roach, Author, Packing for Mars—Moderator

Sooner or later, humans will walk on the Red Planet. Weir and Lee want it to be “sooner,” and they have deep insights—both technical and psychological—about how to make it happen. Join Lee and Weir for a spirited conversation on the promise and peril of humanity’s first in-person exploration of an alien planet.

Thu 10/20

Image - Eric Swalwell

Election Education: An Evening with Rep. Eric Swalwell

Date: Thu, October 20, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Eric Swalwell, U.S. Representative (D, CA-15)
Nellie Bowles, Silicon Valley Correspondent, HBO'S "Vice News Tonight"—Moderator

Congressman Eric Swalwell has quickly made a name for himself as the voice of the millennial generation in Congress. The first person in his family to go to college, Rep. Swalwell is fighting for student loan reform and advocating for affordable housing and paid family leave.

An avid user of social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, Swalwell has even inspired the popular hashtag #Swalwelling. He’s also believed to be the first member of Congress to Vine on the House floor and he has used Facebook Live to stream from the House chamber.

Last year Swalwell created the bipartisan Sharing Economy Caucus with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, which focuses on the opportunities and challenges related to the rise of companies like Uber and Airbnb. Rep. Swalwell is also a member of the United Solutions Caucus, created in 2012 by a group of incoming freshman lawmakers who are working across political party lines to address important policy matters.

Join INFORUM to hear more from this political up-and-comer and to share your thoughts with him about the issues that matter most to you as we look toward the 2016 elections.

Image - Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: Fighting for Democracy

Date: Thu, October 20, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Of the people, by the people

Ralph Nader, Activist; Author, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think; Twitter:

In this unprecedented election year, Nader makes an inspired case about how he thinks our country can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by big business or the wealthy few.

Nader has fought for decades to give Americans back their political voice. He draws from his own experiences and shares his core political beliefs on how we can protect our rights to ensure democracy for all.

Fri 10/21

Image - Bill McKibben and Terry Tamminen

McKibben and Tamminen: Disruptive Climate and Politics

Date: Fri, October 21, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
A veteran of three decades of climate activism

Bill McKibben, Co-founder, 350.org
Terry Tamminen, CEO, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

As we careen toward unknown climatic changes and near the end of an equally unpredictable election cycle, what will the political and planetary climate be in 2017? Is climate disruption an issue high on the minds of the voters and political leaders? As co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben has been working to influence major policy decisions around the world with campaigns such as Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, Frack Free California and Break Free from Fossil Fuels.

Have those demonstrations actually kept carbon in the ground? What has his organization 350.org been focused on this election cycle, and what are his thoughts on 2017? Join us for politics, activism and stories from 30 years of writing and fighting.

Image - Barbara Rose Brooker

Dispelling Ageism: The Journey of the Age March

Date: Fri, October 21, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Finding and enjoying love at any age

Barbara Rose Brooker, Author, The Viagra Diaries and There's Something Wrong with All of Them

Years of age is a poor metric for quality of life. The true measure is functional ability and one's capacity to enjoy life. Come join Barbara Rose Brooker, San Francisco native author and founder of the first Age March in history. She will talk about the journey of the Age March and her dream that ageism will dissolve and numbers won’t matter.

“Anything is possible at any age,” Brooker says. She will then read from her new book, There’s Something Wrong with All of Them, stories about finding love after 60, love and ageism.

Image - Mary Ellen Hannibal

Mary Ellen Hannibal: How to Be a Citizen Scientist

Date: Fri, October 21, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Inside the tech-enabled movement of citizens doing science

Mary Ellen Hannibal, Science Writer; Author, Citizen Scientist

Digging deeply, Mary Ellen Hannibal traces today’s tech-enabled citizen science movement to its roots: the centuries-long tradition of amateur observation by writers and naturalists. Combining original reporting, meticulous research, and memoir in impassioned prose, Citizen Scientist is a literary event, a blueprint for action, and the story of how one woman rescued herself from an odyssey of loss—with a new kind of science.

Mary Ellen Hannibal is an emerging voice in environmentalism and a sought-after speaker connecting the scientific community to the public. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire and Elle, among many others. She is an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow, a Stanford Media Fellow, and a recipient of the National Society of Science Writers’ Science and Society Award.

Mon 10/24

Humanities West Book Discussion: The World of Yesterday, by Stefan Zweig

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM
Portrait of an era

Join us to discuss Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday. Written as both a recollection of the past and a warning for future generations, it recalls the golden age of literary Vienna—its seeming permanence, its promise and its devastating fall. Surrounded by the leading literary lights of the epoch, Zweig draws a vivid and intimate account of his life and travels through Vienna, Paris, Berlin and London, touching on the very heart of European culture. His passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the edge of extinction. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Image - David Bodanis

Einstein's Greatest Mistake

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Just how great could Einstein have been?

David Bodanis, Author, Einstein's Greatest Mistake

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

David Bodanis, best-selling author of E=mc2, has written a brisk, accessible biography of Albert Einstein that reveals his genius and his hubris. Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity. Yet in the final decades of his life he was also ignored by most scientists. Bodanis explains how Einstein’s imagination and self-confidence led to his early successes, but when it came to newer revelations in quantum mechanics, those same traits undermined his quest for the ultimate truth. Einstein’s conviction in his own intuition proved to be his ultimate undoing.

An intimate and enlightening biography of the celebrated physicist, Einstein’s Greatest Mistake reveals how much we owe Einstein today—and how much more he might have achieved.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

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. 

Image - spaceship

How to Make a Spaceship! (without NASA)

Date: Mon, October 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The private space race is on!

Julian Guthrie, Journalist; Author, How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight
Mike Melvill, World's First Commercial Astronaut
Matt Stinemetze, Engineer and Project Manager, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne
Erik Lindbergh, Grandson of Aviators Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Supporter of Private Race to Space
Brian Hackney, Electrical Engineer and Meteorologist, KPIX-TV CBS San Francisco—Moderator

Virgin founder Richard Branson said of Guthrie’s book, “This tells of a turning point in history, when entrepreneurs were offered the chance to do something only governments had done before. Whether you are 9 years old or 99, this inspiring tale will capture your imagination.”

Come meet the band of renegades who launched the private race to space, and the scrappy engineers and pilots who set out to win the $10 million prize offered to the first team that could build and fly a rocket to the start of space without the government's help. This is the entrepreneurial adventure story of Peter Diamandis, the XPRIZE, SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt. The winning of the XPRIZE wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry and a new age—SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic. It is about dreamers and doers, and making the impossible possible.

Tue 10/25

Image - Candice Shy Hooper

Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War, for Better and for Worse

Date: Tue, October 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Influencing history

Candice Shy Hooper, Author, Lincoln's Generals' Wives

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

The story of the American Civil War isn’t complete without examining the extraordinary lives of Jessie Fremont, Nelly McClellan, Ellen Sherman, and Julia Grant, who were their husbands’ closest confidantes and had a profound impact on their ambitions and actions. Once shots were fired on Fort Sumter, the women were launched into a new world, where their relationships with their husbands and their personal opinions of the president of the United States had national and historical consequences. Using letters, memoirs, and photographs—and for the first time, maps of the women’s wartime travels—Hooper reveals how these four generals’ wives powerfully influenced our history.

Wed 10/26

Image - Barbara Boxer

Senator Barbara Boxer: The Art of Tough

Date: Wed, October 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Senator Boxer's secret to success

Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator (D-California); Author, The Art of Tough: Fearlessly Facing Politics and Life; Twitter

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

"One goal of this memoir is to inspire people to fight for change. It takes what I call the Art of Tough and I've had to do it all my life." —Senator Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer has made her mark, combining compassionate advocacy with scrappiness in a political career spanning more than three decades. Now, retiring from the Senate, she continues the work to which she's dedicated 30 years in Congress. Her memoir, The Art of Tough, shares her provocative and touching recollections of service, and cements her commitment to the fight for women, families, quality, and environmental protection—all in a peaceful world.

Sometimes lauded, sometimes vilified, but always standing tough, Boxer has fought for her values even when her personal convictions conflicted with her party or the majority rule.

Image - Tom Stienstra

Tom Stienstra: The Mighty T, from Glacier to Golden Gate

Date: Wed, October 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Meet the nation's most-award winning outdoors writer

Tom Stienstra, Outdoors Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

America's best-known outdoors man and the SF Chronicle outdoors editor (lucky us), Stienstra will share dramatic photos, videos and stories from his expedition to climb the Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park, where he traces the melting drops of water to the Tuolumne River en route to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. His expedition is the storyline for national PBS showing that will air in the late fall.

Stienstra is the nation's only four-time winner of the OWAA President's Award, National Outdoor Writer of the Year, and only the fourth living member inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame

Image - Origami

Robert Lang: Origami — Between the Folds of Art and Technology

Date: Wed, October 26, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Science meets art

Roberg Lang, Origami Artist; Physicist

Origami is the centuries-old Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. Lang, a world-renowned origami artist, has taken this traditional art form one step further.

Lang is one of the pioneers of cross-disciplinary origami that combines mathematics, science, technology, engineering and design with origami. His applications have been used on medical devices, air bag designs and expandable space telescopes.

With 50 patents awarded and pending on semiconductor lasers, optics and integrated optoelectronics, Lang has more than 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed and his artwork has been shown around the world in exhibits at the MoMA in New York, Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and the Nippon Museum of Origami in Japan.

Hear more about the blending of art and technology what drives him to create such inspirational masterpieces.

Thu 10/27

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, October 27, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Explore San Francisco's Financial District

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets, and public squares. Hear about the famous architects that influenced the building of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces, and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot!

Image - Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard: Founding Patagonia and Living Simply

Date: Thu, October 27, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Tales of an eco-friendly businessman

Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia, Inc.; Author, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

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

Chouinard is a legendary climber, surfer and environmentalist. He is also the reluctant entrepreneur who founded Patagonia, Inc., one of the most respected eco- and socially conscious companies in the world.

To celebrate the re-release of his best selling memoir, Chouinard recounts his early days of selling climbing equipment out of his car and explains how that led to accidentally creating a multi-million dollar sporting goods company committed to environmentally responsible design and production.

Through Patagonia he has led the way with innovations in organic cotton, sustainable wool and traceable down. However, Chouinard has not been limited by textiles. He has also created a venture fund called 20 million & Change and spun out Patagonia Provisions, reflecting his belief that food and agriculture will help solve our biggest environmental challenges.

As companies and consumers seek a more sustainable economy, Chouinard will discuss how entrepreneurs can create greatness and achieve net positive social impact at a point where doing less-bad is no longer good enough.