Upcoming Events

Mon 9/26

Image - Elizabeth Lesser and Isabel Allende

Elizabeth Lesser in Conversation with Isabel Allende

Date: Mon, September 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Elizabeth Lesser, Co Founder, Omega Institute; Author, Marrow: A Love Story
In Conversation with Isabel Allende, Novelist and Human Rights Activist

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

The author of The New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a "soul marrow transplant," examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.

Tue 9/27

Image - Scott Allan Morrison

The Dark Side of Social Media: Privacy, Manipulation and Terms of Use

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Scott Allan Morrison, Former Silicon Valley Journalist; Author, Terms of Use
In conversation with Sarah Granger, Author; Digital Media Entrepreneur

Facebook has vowed that it will not attempt to influence the outcome of an election. But as veteran Silicon Valley journalist Scott Allan Morrison shows us in his debut thriller Terms of Use, social media companies can manipulate voters, and there are no laws to prevent them from doing so. Join Scott as he discusses his novel, Internet privacy and social media’s growing influence over our personal lives and our political system.

Image - Robert Reich

Robert Reich: The Oddest Presidential Election in Living Memory

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Explaining and exploring campaign 2016

Robert Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary of Labor; Author, Saving Capitalism
Holly Kernan, Executive Editor for News, KQED—Moderator

In the midst of an unpredictable presidential election, get insight from a veteran political figure who knows Washington inside and out. Time magazine named Reich one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. Come hear his provocative thoughts on the presidential election and the future of America.

Wed 9/28

Image - Adam Browning

Solar for All: Energy for All the Planet and All the People

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar
Vien Truong, Director, Green for All
Erica Mackie, Co-Founder and CEO, Grid Alternatives

The clean energy revolution has the power to transform our planet and our communities. Current massive solar cost reductions mean that solar energy will be able to deliver health and economic benefits to everyone, including low-income and impoverished areas. Solar has the power to lower utility bills for every American, including 22 million low-income families, enabling them to invest dollars in their living and in their futures rather than in ever-rising energy bills. Advocates say that harnessing local sunshine will create good jobs and a pathway for everyone, including poor communities and families. Join our distinguished panel in a discussion of promise, progress and challenges to build a new solar economy available for all our planet and all our people.

Thu 9/29

Image - Bay Bridge

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Another neighborhood adventure

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.

Image - Tracy Kidder

Author Tracy Kidder: Profiling the Pied Piper of Geeks

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
"Money is meant to be moved"

Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize Winner; Author, A Truck Full of Money
Becky Worley, Tech Contributor, ABC News’ "Good Morning America"—Moderator

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

Tracy Kidder has been called the “master of the nonfiction narrative.” His previous work, Soul of a New Machine, celebrated for its insight into the world of high-tech corporate America, earned a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. His enormously influential book Mountains Beyond Mountains captured two global health crises—tuberculosis and AIDS—through the eyes of a single-minded physician bent on improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet. In his latest work, A Truck Full of Money, he profiles Paul English, an unconventional entrepreneur and founder of Kayak.com, known as “the Pied Piper of Geeks”, who seeks to give away his fortune. Come hear a mesmorizing portrait of a man whose iconoclastic behavior could well influence the way we all think about materialism.

Image - Rorke Denver

Rorke Denver: U.S. Navy SEAL Commander

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
What does it mean to be a hero?

Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL Commander; Mentor, "American Grit"; Author, Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation; Twitter:

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

Denver has run every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs and led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. He starred in the 2012 hit film Act of Valor, based on real-life SEAL missions, and most recently served as a mentor coach on Fox’s "American Grit."

Denver shares his insights and experiences and addresses what it means to be a hero, why we fight and what can be learned from the battlefield.

Fri 9/30

Image - E. Gyimah-Boadi

Expanding the Voice of Ordinary Africans: The Afrobarometer Journey

Date: Fri, September 30, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

E. Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director, Afrobarometer and Ghana Center for Democratic Development; Political Scientist; Author

Until recently, almost nothing was known about the values and preferences of most Africans. Afrobarometer has changed this—by interviewing nearly a quarter of a million ordinary citizens across 36 countries in all regions of Africa since 1999. As a result, we can now make important, and often surprising, generalizations about what Africans think.

Gyimah-Boadi will share insights from Afrobarometer as well as its progress and challenges in making public opinion data a pillar of African policy-making, building African capacity for high-quality opinion surveys, and sustaining this vital project of “giving voice to the people” in Africa.

Tue 10/4

Image - Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose: What We All Need to Know About Physics

Date: Tue, October 04, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Separating fact from fiction in the world of physics

Roger Penrose, Theoretical Physicist; Author, Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe 
In conversation with Dr. David Eisenbud, director, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Professor of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley

Here’s a chance to meet one of the world’s most renowned scientific thinkers. Sir Roger Penrose, colleague of Stephen Hawking and acclaimed theoretical physicist, will separate fiction from reality when it comes to physics and discuss the fact-based truths of the universe.

In his provocative new book, Penrose argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas—string theory, quantum mechanics and cosmology. Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgment of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds with suggestions for possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Penrose even describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work.

Come for a discussion that will illuminate physics and its significance to all of us.

Wed 10/5

Image - Tara Smith

Can Courts Get the Law Right? Judicial Review’s Problem with Objectivity

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Judicial review and the rule of law

Tara Smith, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin; Author, Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System

The best laws in the world are useless if they are misunderstood by the courts. Yet the debate over judicial review—proper interpretation of laws—tends to be a minefield of loaded concepts, straw men and false alternatives. Tara Smith explains the pillars of objective law and the essentials needed to restore objective judicial review. Hear Smith's unique perspective on the originalism vs. living constitution vs. minimalism debate.

Image - Michael Krasny

KQED’s Michael Krasny: Oy, Does He Have Jokes for You

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Come ready to laugh a lot

Michael Krasny, Host, "Forum"; Author, Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It Means
In conversation with Peter Coyote

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

Michael Krasny has been telling Jewish jokes since his bar mitvah, and it’s been said that he knows more of them than anyone on the planet. He has now put together a compendium of Jewish jokes that packs the punches with hilarious riff after riff and also offers a window into Jewish culture. Let There Be Laughter borrows from traditional humor and such Jewish comedy legends and new voices as Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Larry David, Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer. With his background as a scholar and public radio host, Krasny also delves deeply into the themes, topics and form of Jewish humor: chauvinism undercut by irony and self-mockery, the fear of losing cultural identity through assimilation, the importance of vocal inflection in joke-telling, and calls to communal memory, including the use of Yiddish. Above all, come ready to laugh a lot.

Image - windmills

California Power Politics

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Heated political issues

Kevin de Leon, President, California State Senate (D-Los Angeles)

Climate disruption and the California drought have been mocked or marginalized in the national political debate. Are Republicans and Democrats in California similarly divided? Where can they agree on water, energy, agriculture and other issues related to the changing climate? Climate impacts such as massive forest fires, rising tides, and severe storms are hitting the state today. Governor Jerry Brown is trying to extend the state’s main climate law, AB 32. Is that going to happen?

A conversation about power and politics at the state and regional level in this wild election year.

Thu 10/6

Image - China Economic Slowdown

China’s Economic Slowdown: Will It Hurt the U.S. and the World?

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
What is happening in China, and how does it affect the rest of us?

Yingyi Qian, Dean and Professor, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China
Nicholas Lardy, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Board Member, Asia Policy and The China Review
George Lewinski, Former Foreign Editor, "Marketplace"—Moderator

With China's growth slower than it has been in 25 years, it is undoubtable that China is experiencing an economic slowdown. The government has made changes to stabilize the situation and move the economy toward "a new normal." Our panelists will discuss the different kinds of reforms China is working on now, and how likely these reforms are to succeed.

What does it mean for Americans if these reforms succeed—or if these reforms fail? Do we need to fear a stronger China, or moreso, a weaker one?

Fri 10/7

From Arab Spring to Islamic State: A Regional Perspective

Date: Fri, October 07, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Middle Eastern upheavals

Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Foreign Affairs Scholar; Author
Dina Ibrahim, Ph.D., Middle East Analyst, Educator
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Dr. Keynoush and Dr. Ibrahim will trace the demise of the Arab Spring and the violent rise and threat of Islamic State with Robert Rosenthal, a former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dr. Keynoush is an advisor to policy centers in the Middle East, translator to four Iranian presidents, and author of Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes. Dr.Ibrahim is associate professor of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State, associate producer of Hope and Fear: Egypt at the Tipping Point, and she has contributed to BBC, NPR, CNN and other news outlets.

Image - Jackie Speier and Rebecca Sudore

End-of-Life Challenges and Solutions

Date: Fri, October 07, 2016
Time: 1:15 PM
Part of our special series exploring end-of-life issues

Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative (D-California 14th); Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations; Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Rebecca Sudore, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, UCSF; Clinician-researcher; Geriatrician; Hospice and Palliative Care Physician; Staff Physician, San Francisco VA Medical Center

If you think your plans for serious illness are all set, think again. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, despite considerable forethought, struggled to ensure her dying loved ones were well-served. She will share her personal experiences navigating the medical system for her aging relatives. Following the congresswoman’s personal discussion, UCSF’s Dr. Rebecca Sudore will discuss how to prepare for future medical decisions and to get the care that is right for you. She will share video stories from an easy-to-use website and answer your questions about how best to ensure your wishes are honored during serious illness. Come gain a better understanding of how best to plan for future medical decision making, and explore tools to prepare for the end-of-life.

Mon 10/10

Image - The Creative Architect

The Creative Architect

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A look inside an amazing episode of modern architecture and psychology

Pierluigi Serraino, Architect; Author, The Creative Architect: Inside the Great Midcentury Personality Study
In conversation with John King, Architecture Critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Night Philosophy unearths a late 1950s "source of creativity" study whose data has finally been analyzed and published. Forty eminent architects—including Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, Philip Johnson, George Nelson, Richard Neutra, Eliot Noyes, Pietro Belluschi, Serge Chermayeff and A. Quincy Jones—descended on UC Berkeley for three days of intensive testing in an attempt to discover the sources of their creativity. Pierluigi Serraino charts the development and implementation of this historic study, producing the first look at an amazing and matchless episode in the annals of modern architecture and psychology.

Image - Caitlin Shetterly

Caitlin Shetterly: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Land and Future

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Are GMO's dangerous?

Caitlin Shetterly, Author, Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future

GMO products are among the most-consumed and the least-understood substances in the United States today. They appear not only in the food we eat, but in everything from the interior coating of paper coffee cups and medicines to diapers and toothpaste.

Shetterly discovered the importance of GMOs the hard way. Shortly after she learned that her son had an alarming sensitivity to GMO corn, she was told that she had the same condition, and her family’s daily existence changed forever.

She takes a deeper look at how GMO products are currently infiltrating our food, our land, and how that affects our health and future.

Image - Sophia Amoruso

#Girlboss Sophia Amoruso

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
San Francisco entrepreneurial success and misfit heroine

Sophia Amoruso, Author, Nasty Galaxy and New York Times best-seller #Girlboss; Founder and CEO, Nasty Gal; Founder, #Girlboss Foundation; Host, #Girlboss Radio 
Alison Pincus, Co-Founder, One Kings Lane; Co-Founder, HelloMazel—Moderator

Come get nasty with Nasty Gal’s #Girlboss Sophia Amoruso, at INFORUM!

An entrepreneur and style-setter, Sophia’s life has been one wild ride, and we know it’s just the beginning! In the 2000s, she was a security monitor at the San Francisco Academy of Art, dumpster diving for food and selling stolen books on eBay before founding Nasty Gal in 2006. Just a decade later, in 2016, Forbes named Sophia one of the youngest and richest self-made women in America—surpassing fellow #Girlboss Beyonce.

Sophia launched her company, Nasty Gal, on eBay, reselling vintage clothes she scavenged from thrift stores. Nasty Gal quickly grew, growing from a makeshift store in Sophia’s living room to a fashion powerhouse, both online and brick-and-mortar, in less than a decade. Women around the world snap up Nasty Gal’s cutting-edge fashions with a vintage touch, and Sophia’s influence is evident on magazine covers, Pinterest, the runway and beyond.

Sophia’s success isn’t just limited to fashion—she’s creating an empire. Sophia champions aspiring female entrepreneurs through her #Girlboss Foundation, and shares stories of other creative, successful women on her popular podcast #Girlboss Radio, with guests like Charlize Theron. Her first book, #Girlboss, dubbed “Lean In for misfits,” is a New York Times bestseller and is currently being turned into a Netflix original series (taping in San Francisco this fall!).

Sophia will take INFORUM on a trip into her latest book, Nasty Galaxy, giving us the inside scoop about her unconventional approach to style, music, philosophy and advice.

Image - Larry Brilliant

Larry Brilliant: Sometimes Brilliant

Date: Mon, October 10, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
The inspiring life and journey of a local hero.

Larry Brilliant, Chairman, Skoll Global Threats; Former Executive Director, Google.org; Author, Sometimes Brilliant: The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History; Twitter:

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

Brilliant’s life has taken him across continents and countercultural movements. He is responsible for some of the most significant medical, spiritual and social achievements of the past century, working with leaders and icons including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Wavy Gravy, the Dalai Lama, and President Barack Obama.

Brilliant was the executive director of Google.org and chaired the Presidential Advisory Committee on Bio-Surveillance. He lived in India for more than 10 years working as a United Nations medical officer, where he played a key role in the World Health Organization smallpox eradication program in South Asia. He also co-founded The Seva Foundation, an international NGO whose programs and grantees have given back sight to more than 3.5 million blind people in more than 20 countries.

Learn more about Brilliant’s inspiring life and journey.

Tue 10/11

Image - Steve Blake

Parkinson’s Disease: Nutritional Therapy

Date: Tue, October 11, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Can diet affect Parkinson's disease?

Steve Blake, Sc.D., Faculty Nutritional Biochemist, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience; Author, Vitamins and Minerals Demystified and Parkinson’s Disease: Dietary Regulation of Dopamine

Parkinson’s disease involves a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Symptoms can include tremor, rigidity and slow movements. In this program, you will learn about changes in dietary protein that have been found to reduce these symptoms by half.

Neurodegeneration is the loss of function and death of our brain cells. Why do our brain cells lose function and die? Learn about specific pollutants in certain foods that can damage our ability to make dopamine, and which foods harbor these persistent organic pollutants and how to avoid them. In contrast, certain foods and nutrients can help protect brain cells and slow degeneration. Since Parkinson’s disease symptoms do not often show up before half of the dopamine-producing brain cells are gone, all of us can benefit from proactive risk reduction.

Steve Blake is faculty nutritional biochemist at Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience. He is a research scientist who has just finished a clinical study successfully using nutrients to combat neurodegeneration. Among his publications, he authored the Diet Doctor software to analyze dietary nutrients.