Upcoming Events

Thu 8/25

Image - Marty Nemko

Marty Nemko: What's the Big Idea?

Date: Thu, August 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Finding solutions to big problems

Marty Nemko, Ph.D., Contributor, Time; Host, "Work with Marty Nemko," KALW 91.7 FM

What's the Big Idea? Possible Solutions to Our Biggest Problems. Imagine you are emperor of the United States of America. With a wave of your hand, you can enact any policy you want. A policy that would:

  • remove people's employment fears
  • remove our health-care fears
  • eliminate terrorism
  • make the U.S.'s $20 trillion dollar debt vanish
  • even solve the Palestinian/Israeli crisis.

Marty Nemko, Time contributor, KALW-FM (San Francisco public radio station) host, U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. specializing in the evaluation of innovation, and author of What’s the Big Idea? 39 Reinventions for a Better Society, will share his provocative ideas and leave plenty of time for Q&A so you can react to those ideas and share your own!

Fri 8/26

Image - Bill Hayton

BBC Correspondent Bill Hayton: Who Owns the South China Sea?

Date: Fri, August 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
The surprising history of the hotly contested region

Bill Hayton, BBC Correspondent, Author, The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia
Frank Wu, Professor and former Dean, University of California Hastings Law School; Chairman, Committee of 100—Moderator

The South China Sea is where China’s rising ambitions are colliding with the United States’ global role. This strategic competition is interacting in dangerous and unpredictable ways with tensions about the fate of the atolls and islands that dot the sea: the Spratly islands, the Paracels and Scarborough Shoal. Bill Hayton will explain the — sometimes bizarre — origins of the various claims and suggest how they might be resolved.

Hayton’s The South China Sea was named as one of The Economist's books of the year in 2014. He has worked for BBC News since 1998 and was the BBC's reporter in Vietnam in 2006-07. He spent 2013 embedded with Myanmar's state broadcaster working on media reform. He is also an associate fellow with the Asia Program of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. He has given presentations about South China Sea and Southeast Asian issues for think-tanks and government institutions in the UK, United States, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. His written work has been published in The Economist, the South China Morning Post, The Diplomat and The National Interest.

Mon 8/29

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, August 29, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
This month's topic: Turkey

This month's topic: Turkey.

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan—has been meeting monthly for more than eight years. We are not a debate group; we are a discussion group.

Image - UC

The University of California's Role in Confronting Climate Change and Leading the World on a Sustainable Environmental Path

Date: Mon, August 29, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Teenie Matlock, McClatchy Chair of Communications and Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Merced
Christine Gulbranson, Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepeneurship, University of California
Daniel Kammen, The Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley; Parallel Appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, The Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Department of Nuclear Engineering
Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group Inc.; Producer, GreenBiz.com; Lead Author, The Annual State of Green Business Report—Moderator

California and the University of California are leaders in confronting one of the world's most complex and daunting issues: climate change. Three distinguished UC professors from across the university system will discuss how the UC and the state of California lead and plan to continue leading the world on a path to a sustainable environmental future.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, August 29, 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. 

Tue 8/30

Image - Sam Dodge, Mark Farrell, and CW Nevius

Helping the Homeless of San Francisco: What Works?

Date: Tue, August 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Sam Dodge, Director, Mayors Office of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE)
Mark Farrell, San Francisco Supervisor, District 2
C.W. Nevius, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

We see the sad lives of the homeless in our beautiful city, and our hearts sink. But is there an answer? In different ways, our three panelists have given a great deal of attention to the problem. They will share their observations and possible remedies.

Image - An Evening with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

An Evening with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Date: Tue, August 30, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
An American icon lets loose on politics, race, religion, inequality, sports and media

An American Icon Lets Loose on Politics, Race, Religion, Inequality, Sports, and Media

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Hall of Fame Inductee; Columnist, Time Magazine; Author, Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
In conversation with Van Jones, CNN Commentator

Since retiring from professional basketball as the NBA's all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a lauded observer of culture and society, a New York Times bestselling author, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post, Time magazine and Time.com. At a pivotal time in our history and in the midst of a presidential race that threatens to divide us, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar will give his take on the origins of bias and inequality that remain a stubborn part of America, 240 years after its founding document declared that all Americans are created equal. He contends that many Americans, out of fear and sometimes ignorance, make too many false assumptions about fellow citizens who aren’t like them.

Join Mr. Abdul-Jabbar for an unabashed and important conversation on how America can be a more unified country.

Wed 8/31

Image - Rhodessa Jones

Rhodessa Jones and Cultural Odyssey's Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle

Date: Wed, August 31, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, Cultural Odyssey; Actress; Teacher; Writer; Director, Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle; Former Visiting Artist in Residence, University of California, Berkeley Black Theater Workshop; Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California; Spring 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence, College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In 1989, on the basis of material developed while conducting classes at the San Francisco County Jail, Rhodessa Jones created “Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women,” a performance piece based on the lives of the incarcerated women she encountered. Based on this observation, Jones founded The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women to explore whether an arts-based approach could help reduce the numbers of women returning to jail.

In 2008, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women joined forces with UCSF’s Women’s HIV Clinic to create theater that explores what it means to be living with the virus in the 21st century. For the past seven years, The Medea Project: HIV Circle has performed shows all around the United States, sharing the truth and the stories of what it means to be female and infected or affected.

Image - Tristan Walker and John Maeda: Redefining Design
This event is Sold Out

Tristan Walker and John Maeda: Redefining Design

Date: Wed, August 31, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Redefining product design and success

Tristan Walker, Founder & CEO, Walker & Company Brands, Inc.
John Maeda, Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion, Automattic—Moderator

This program is sponsored by

After recognizing the need for better-designed personal care products for people of color, Tristan Walker, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at Andreessen Horowitz and director of business development at Foursquare, struck out on his own and launched Walker & Company Brands, Inc.

Now, Walker & Company is an emerging leader in the field of product design, and his company's wares are being met with both critical acclaim from health and beauty industry heavyweights and financial backing from celebrities like John Legend and Magic Johnson.

Join INFORUM, Tristan Walker and design industry guru John Maeda for an insightful discussion about how companies like Walker & Company Brands are finding success and redefining product design by making products that are both visually appealing and highly effective available to the masses.

Carbon Five

Wed 9/7

Image - Steven Hill
This event is Canceled

Expand Social Security Now!

Date: Wed, September 07, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
A plan to defend and expand Social Security

Steven Hill, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation; Holtzbrinck Fellow, American Academy in Berlin; Author

Three-quarters of Americans depend heavily on Social Security in their elderly years and nearly half would be living in poverty without it. But as important and popular as it is, Social Security has become a political football. A well-financed campaign — supported by conservatives, special interest groups, and even leading Democrats — has lobbied for cuts and significant “entitlement reform,” falsely proclaiming that Social Security is going broke. Policy expert Steven Hill argues that Social Security not only should be defended, it should be substantially expanded.

Learn about his proposal to double the monthly benefit and how to pay for it by closing many of the tax loopholes and deductions that disproportionately favor the wealthy few.

Thu 9/8

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, September 08, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Join us for a neighborhood adventure

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk, and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

Sat 9/10

Image - Wine barrels

September Soiree: Judgment of Paris 40th Anniversary

Date: Sat, September 10, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join The Commonwealth Club for our first annual September Soirée, hosted at the historic Green Gables estate in Woodside, celebrating the 40-year anniversary of the Judgment of Paris.

Sip, swirl and taste world-renowned wines from the winning Judgment of Paris wineries while supporting The Commonwealth Club at this benefit tasting event. You will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the winemakers, winery owners and vineyard specialists who crafted the wines that put California wines on the map 40 years ago. Take in the breathtaking scenery of the Santa Cruz Mountains from the extravagant Green Gables estate, which is recognized as a National Historic Place and was built by the famed architects Greene and Greene. As you stroll through the eloquent gardens you will make your way from one winery’s tasting station to the next and experience wines from Chalone, Veedercrest, Spring Mountain Vineyard's 2012 Elivette, and a 2000 Monte Bello from Ridge, among others, all paired with gourmet small plates carefully chosen to accentuate these defining wines of California.

The Commonwealth Club chooses to celebrate this momentous event on its 40th anniversary year to offer the winemakers and winery owners a chance to tell their stories behind the triumph at the Judgment of Paris and the wines that started a renaissance in the Napa Valley, making it one of the premier wine regions of the world.

Join us and these pioneers of California wine in a toast to the Judgment of Paris and support The Commonwealth Club by purchasing a tax-deductible ticket to our September Soirée.

Mon 9/12

Image - Nang Attal

Lessons from Afghanistan: 15 Years into the War on Terror

Date: Mon, September 12, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
What is the Afghan future?

Nang Attal, Afghan Educator; Labor Activist
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Journalism

A decade and a half after the United States and NATO allies invaded Afghanistan and U.S. President George W. Bush declared a "War on Terror," the future of Afghanistan is still being written. Attal, a Fulbright scholar and a bright young activist-educator, will discuss the turbulent situation in Afghanistan, lessons from the War on Terror, and his hopes for the future.

After receiving his Masters at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University, Attal returned to Afghanistan committed to helping his struggling homeland achieve labor reform, more gender equality and evasive stability. He is a recipient of the United Nations Youth Courage Award.

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents.

Date: Mon, September 12, 2016
Time: 1:30 PM
Solutions to challenges of aging

Richard G. Caro, Ph.D., Facilitator

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only do we uncover interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also conduct a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions are facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events.

Image - Karen Paget

Patriotic Betrayal: Inside a Secret CIA Campaign

Date: Mon, September 12, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Karen Paget, Author, Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism

Monday Night Philosophy considers the social ramifications of a democratic society allowing internal spying. In 1967, Ramparts magazine exposed a CIA secret: a decades-old project to enroll American students in the crusade against communism by suborning the National Student Association. Patriotic Betrayal tells a story filled with self-serving rationalizations, layers of duplicity, and bureaucratic double-talk. Author Karen Paget, herself a former member of the NSA, mined hundreds of archival sources and declassified documents, and interviewed more than 150 people, to uncover precisely how the CIA turned the NSA into an intelligence asset during the Cold War. Her answer throws a sharp light on the persistent argument about whether America’s national security interests can be secured by skullduggery and deception.

Tue 9/13

Image - Steven Campbell

A Blinding Flash of the Obvious: Rewiring Your Brain for Success

Date: Tue, September 13, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
Changing your mind

Steven R. Campbell, M.S., Information Systems

Campbell presents an eye-opening look at the latest research on how our brains conform to the messages we give it: When we optimize those messages, our brains will literally rewire themselves again to create new, positive self-images of who we want to be.

This is formally called “neuroplasticity.” Understanding this could open doors to creating more success in our health, personal relationships and in our businesses.

It's not magic...it's science! The speaker will share practical knowledge of cutting-edge brain research on creating success, better health, loving relationships and overcoming your fears as well as an understanding of the surprising power of thinking differently when you mess up.

Image - San Francisco waterfront

Rising Seas: Is San Francisco Ready?

Date: Tue, September 13, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The new Atlantis?

In the Media

Michael Stoll, Executive Director, San Francisco Public Press

The mainstream media, and human brain, are not well-suited to handling slow-moving threats that will appear in the distant future. Yet flooding of Bay Area roads this year can be partly attributed to rising tides and severe weather. How is the Bay Area media covering this reality?

Does climate change coverage take a back seat to more immediate concerns about race, safety and health? Are those issues connected?

At Your Doorstep

Will Travis, Former Executive Director, BCDC

Bay waters are topping the Embarcadero during king tides, and repairing the seawall along the downtown waterfront will cost about $4 billion. Mission Bay and many other areas of the city are also threatened by the certainty of an expanding bay. This section of our program will probe what the city is doing to prepare for a soggy future and protect people in vulnerable communities. It also will explore what the real estate industry is doing to protect property that accounts for much of the wealth in San Francisco.

Climate One Connect

Audience members are invited to engage in breakout group conversations led by the speakers for 20 minutes following the program. We hope you’ll take part in this unique opportunity to delve deeper with the speakers.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Election 2016 Political Roundtable: A Week to Week Special

Date: Tue, September 13, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
A special South Bay edition of our popular politics roundtable

Lanhee J. Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Former Policy Director, 2012 Romney-Ryan Presidential Campaign
Larry Gerston, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, San Jose State University; Political Analyst, NBC Bay Area; Author, Reviving Citizen Engagement, and The Road to Hana; Twitter
Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, Mercury News; Twitter

This program is sponsored by the Applied Materials Foundation.

It's a special edition of our political roundtable. We'll gather local experts for commentary on the candidates, referenda and issues of concern to the South Bay, and we'll take a look at statewide and national campaigns.

We'll 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 refreshments at our member social (open to all attendees). 

Wed 9/14

Image - John Dearborn

Navigating the Health Care Crisis

Date: Wed, September 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

John Dearborn, M.D.

The United States is in the midst of a crisis in health care. With the many advances in biomedical technology and pharmacology, fueled by research in academia and industry, we have never been better cared-for and are enjoying longer productive lives. But the growing cost of delivering that care, especially for an aging population, has us in the middle of a battle between the health-care delivery system and third-party payers, including Medicare. Premiums have soared, and coverage has waned to keep the insurers in the black, but Medicare has been badly underfunded for decades.

Can physicians and hospitals strike a balance between high-quality care and cost that will ease the strain on our wallets yet still keep us healthy and active? This has been the focus in the joint-replacement realm at Washington Hospital in Fremont for nearly 20 years, and the results have been astounding.

Image - cityscape and The Future of Work

The Future of Work

Date: Wed, September 14, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
How do we create good jobs for everyone?

Orson Aguilar, President, Greenlining Institute
Carmen Rojas, CEO, Workers Lab
Jim Wunderman, President and CEO, Bay Area Council
Tim O’Reilly, Founder, O’Reilly Media; Venture Capitalist; Founder, Maker Faire; Board Member, Code for America
Joshua Johnson, Creator/Host, Rockit Fuel Radio Podcast; Lecturer, U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—Moderator

Sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation as part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

As the economy has improved across the Bay Area, not everyone has benefitted equally from economic gains and job growth. In fact, many haven’t benefitted at all. While there is seemingly no shortage of high-paying jobs for workers with advanced degrees and a surplus of low wage jobs with little hope for advancement, there simply are not enough jobs that pay a wage that provides safety, security and hope for a better future. In this session, we will bring together leaders from the advocacy community and the business world to talk about what it will take to create good jobs that allow people to make a meaningful contribution to their community and the local economy, and to build a better life for their kids. San Francisco Foundation