Commonwealth Club of California Podcast
Summary: The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's largest public affairs forum. The nonpartisan and nonprofit Club produces and distributes programs featuring diverse viewpoints from thought leaders on important topics. The Club's weekly radio broadcast — the oldest in the U.S., since 1924 — is carried on hundreds of stations. Our website features audio and video of our programs. This podcast feed is usually updated multiple times each week.
Summers for the Tsegie-Samuelsson family were spent in Smögen, Sweden catching crayfish, lobsters and mackerel to serve with local and fresh ingredients at the dinner table. These meals were influenced by Ethiopian cuisine, creating an East African culinary experience with Swedish ingredients. These artistic and cultural influences continue to play a pivotal role in Marcus Samuelsson's cooking. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, author of the new book The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, takes us into a deeper journey of food, culture, and origin to appreciate the complexity of Black culinary arts. The deliciousness of modern Black cooking is only enhanced by chefs’ reclamation of Black culinary traditions, a collective desire to fight implicit bias, and an ability to energize young, creative cooks. Black meals are often categorized under the monolithic label of “soul food,” but Samuelsson reminds us that soul food flavors have influences tracing back to the African continent, the Caribbean, all over the United States, and beyond. The Rise is more than a cookbook, and has been called a stunning work of breadth and beauty. It’s the celebration of a culinary movement. NOTES Part of our Food Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Co-presented by INFORUM. Our thanks to Marcus Bookstore in Oakland for fulfilling book orders.
As the Trump presidency comes to an end, many questions have been raised about its impact and legacy on a range of policy issues and priorities for the country. The future of American history education, particularly for K–12 students, is one area where the impact could be felt for years. Responding to recent controversies such as The New York Times’s "1619 Project" and widespread calls to remove Confederate monuments, President Trump issued an executive order establishing a new “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” in schools. Whether or not the Biden administration continues the commission, the focus on what should be taught about America’s founding and heritage, how constitutional issues and historical topics such as slavery should be conveyed to students, and how to teach the full and complex story of our constitutional democracy will remain a significant educational debate for years to come. This program will look at the state of this debate from a range of perspectives and discuss the future of American history education. The program will be held on January 6, the historic constitutional day when the U.S. Congress officially counts the electoral votes from the presidential election.
Join us for the first Week to Week political roundtable of 2021, as we gather online for a program on the same day that Georgia holds its runoff election for two crucial U.S. Senate seats. We'll discuss the Georgia race, plus the incoming administration, the outgoing administration, the latest from Sacramento and elsewhere with our usual mix of expert insight and a dose of good-natured humor.
Dr. Jessica Zitter is a national advocate for transforming the way people die in America. She is Harvard- and UCSF-trained to practice the unusual combination of critical and palliative care medicine and works as an attending physician at a public hospital in Oakland. Join us for a special one-hour program featuring "Caregiver: A Love Story," Dr. Zitter's new short documentary about the family caregiver burden. More than one in five Americans care for a loved one in need, and are facing serious physical, financial, and emotional consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all a window into this rising public health crisis, as increasing numbers of people suddenly became caregivers and those who were already doing this work become increasingly isolated and overwhelmed. After the 24-minute film, we will be joined by Dr. Zitter, co-director and producer of the film, for a discussion and Q&A facilitated by Mark Zitter. We will learn more about the issue of family caregiver burden, and get taken "behind-the-scenes” to learn how this unlikely film was made. About the Film When Bambi Fass was dying from metastatic melanoma, she realized that being at home with her husband Rick was her biggest priority. Once hospice services came on board, Bambi's quality of life dramatically improved. But as the viewer watches the rising stresses placed on her husband Rick, another story emerged—the burden placed on the family caregiver. Filmed in Oakland, "Caregiver: A Love Story," follows the last 9 weeks of Bambi’s life at home, focusing on the challenges Rick faces as he leaves his job to become her primary caregiver, a role for which he has no experience and little support. He juggles the day-to-day demands of providing care for Bambi and his two-year-old granddaughter, suffers financial losses, and becomes fatigued, sick and lonely, all while losing the woman he loves. The film won best documentary short at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
President-elect Joe Biden says he will infuse climate change into every corner of his agenda. That’s becoming evident looking at his emerging team. "You're already seeing signs from the nominees and the people they’re choosing that climate is going to be a part of every single agency," says Christy Goldfuss, Senior Vice President for Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress. But it will take more than staff buy-in to get the country to net-zero emissions. When he’s sworn in on January 20th, Biden will likely be facing a Republican-led Senate that opposes his climate goals. He’s announced an ambitious plan designed to achieve a one-hundred-percent clean economy and net-zero emissions by 2050, and is assembling a team of heavy hitters to get the job done. But he faces criticism from both sides. Republicans claim his plan is too expensive. Sunrise Movement and other progressives accuse him of not being ambitious enough. Join us for a discussion about the Biden climate agenda -- what he hopes to accomplish and what he can get done, with or without congressional support.
Mary Nichols is not a household name, but she arguably has done more than any other public official to reduce America's carbon pollution. As she puts it, “I took on the one topic that everybody agreed was really important, but they didn't know what to do about, and that was air pollution,” Nichols first served as chair of California's Air Resources Board, or the Air Board, from 1979 to 1983 in Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's first term. When she returned to the job, almost 25 years later under a Republican governor, the board had evolved into a much more powerful and important player, in what had become an urgent struggle against climate change. The Board played a crucial role, for example, in exposing the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal. “The Air Resources Board and our engineers are the ones who uncovered the fraud and figured out how it actually worked,” she recalls, “and we immediately brought in the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and in turn, the Department of Justice.” More recently, Nichols has been busy battling the Trump administration’s attempt to water down California’s fuel economy rules -- which often become national standards because of that state’s big car market. “It's about the merits, it’s about getting the results and the environmental benefits,” Nichols says, “but it's also about protecting California's right to set standards because that has been time and time again the one tool that we the people as a whole have had to really force progress on the part of the industry.”
Join us virtually to discuss with Shin Ushijima, Japan’s best-selling legal thriller author and influential corporate counselor, the nuances of cultural shifts in Japan, the political ramifications of Japan’s response to COVID-19, the effects of China’s rising influence in Asia, the threat to Japan of North Korea’s military misadventurousness, and the institutional changes he would like to see in corporate governance in order to strengthen Japan’s international businesses. Ushijima will also share how he managed to write several novels, and non-fiction corporate advice books, while running one of Tokyo’s premier law firms.
Join us virtually for the kind of philosophical conversation Shankara would have enjoyed, the kind captured in the best of the Upanishads, as we explore with Sadhguru the ideas that have intrigued the yogis of India for millennia, and which have seeped into Western culture in bits and pieces through the curiosity of authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Maugham and Hesse, and from a stream of famous Indian teachers who traveled to the West to share these ideas. We will start our conversation with Mark Twain, because in Hannibal, MO, during Sadhguru’s recent motorcycle tour of America, he said that when he was growing up “Moby Dick and Huck Finn kind of lived in my head for some time. Nobody else really occupied my mind much.” So we will discuss the ancient two-way literary and intellectual highway between India and the West, and then see how much more transcendental the conversation gets after that. MLF ORGANIZER George Hammond NOTES MLF: Humanities
“Here is the great paradox of Cosmic Comic Consciousness: The world is in serious condition, and yet there is definitely something funny going on.” Swami Beyondananda, whose favorite yoga pose is tongue-in-cheek (and occasionally foot-in-mouth) is bringing his comedy disguised as wisdom—or is it wisdom disguised as comedy—to The Commonwealth Club. If you’ve never been to The Commonwealth Club, this is your opportunity to not be there again—this is a virtual event! Seriously and humorously, in these way-too-serious times, this is the perfect opportunity to take humor more seriously and seriousness more humorously. Noted author Marianne Williamson has called the Swami “the Mark Twain of our times,” and as such Swami has a “one-twack mind”—that’s the laugh twack. And he has one “loco motive”—to keep you laughing till the sacred cows come home. Now the Swami is not one of those gurus who expects people to accept his teachings without questioning. If you have an answerable question for the Swami, the Swami will have a questionable answer for you. As the Swami tells us, there are two kinds of people in the world—the kind who divide people into two kinds and the kind who don’t. If you’re part of the former group, there are two other kinds of people in the world. The ones who love to laugh, and the ones who need to. If you fit either category, come laugh with (or at, he doesn’t care) the Swami. And invite your friends, because when it comes to laughter, the more the merrier. MLF ORGANIZER George Hammond NOTES MLF: Humanities
When Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris assumes her new office in January, she will leave a safe Democratic U.S. Senate seat in one of the bluest states in the country. The parlor game has begun of trying to figure out who Governor Gavin Newsom will appoint to replace Harris in the Senate. Should he choose a woman? Man? Asian-American? African-American? Latinx? European-American? LGBTQ? Rich? Poor? The Coalition of Black Women, composed of hundreds of Black women and organizations, hopes to influence the governor to replace Harris with another female African-American. Join us for a conversation with coalition supporters and Black women leaders who are emphasizing the need for diversity in our nation's leaders, pointing to the deficit in the representation of women and African-Americans in the U.S. Senate.
It’s been in a challenging year, so we want to end the year on a high note (literally) with a very special virtual holiday party! We are thrilled to join with our friends at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) to celebrate a Bay Area tradition: "A Christmas Carol." This year, for the first time in its 44-year history, the Bay Area’s favorite holiday theater performance comes to life as a fantastical immersive audio event—"A Christmas Carol: On Air." The Club’s annual holiday party will take you behind the scenes of the world premiere of this timeless story of optimism and humbugs, memories and redemptions, spooky presents and hopeful futures. During the party, we’ll hear from A.C.T.’s TONY Award-winning artistic director, Pam MacKinnon, "A Christmas Carol On Air" Director Peter J. Kuo, and A.C.T. Audio Engineer Jake Rodriguez about this year’s virtual effort and how they created this entirely new experience. We’ll even hear a special excerpt from this year’s all-audio performance. Please join us for this special event to kick off the holiday season . . .
This presentation will introduce what light medicine is, how it works, and review the medical literature as well as their extensive clinical experience in treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, peripheral neuropathies, as well as nearly all painful conditions. Proponents say that the beauty of this safe and cost-effective technology is that it is available today and results are usually seen in just one or two 15- to 30-minute treatments. Len Saputo, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine and has pioneered the development of an integrative, holistic, person-centered, preventative health-care model called Health Medicine. He founded the Health Medicine Forum and has 20 years of experience working with light therapy and more than 50 years practicing medicine. Maurice Bales is an electrical engineer who holds the first U.S. patent and FDA clearance for a light machine. He was awarded five grants from NASA while working on the space shuttle, and has been employed by UC Berkeley to mentor Ph.D. students in fusion physics for two decades. MLF ORGANIZER Robert Lee Kilpatrick NOTES MLF: Health & Medicine
As our country faces the worst economic downturn in a century due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are experiencing financial strain, leading to food insecurity and rising homelessness. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by both the coronavirus and the resulting economic crisis, creating multiple barriers to health. The health-care industry has long recognized the awful truth that race and economic status are linked and both are social predictors of health. The difference in life expectancy between the richest 1 percent and poorest 1 percent of Americans is about 12 years, and between Black and white people there is a 4-year gap on average, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, research shows that underrepresented populations tend to receive lower quality of care and experience greater morbidity and mortality from various chronic diseases. The renewed focus on race amid the COVID-19 pandemic and protests over societal bias provide an opportunity for structural change. In the United States, we spend more on health care and less on the social services that support healthier communities than most industrialized nations. Today’s pandemic continues to highlight how this mismatch in spending is driving some of our poor health-care outcomes. The potential for a significant rise in homelessness, food insecurity and other social issues amid COVID-19 will have drastic effects on health. We already know, for example, that chronic homelessness can cut 27 years from a person’s life. We cannot keep people healthy if they cannot keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Our country’s health-care system is already facing a massive challenge as it cares for those infected with the coronavirus. How can we address the physical, psychological, economic and social impacts of inequity and systematic racism to foster more equitable and healthier communities? Join a panel of experts as we explore opportunities to drive health equity.
Amid dire news of increasing COVID-19 deaths and strict lockdowns this winter, we see vaccines being approved in record time. How and when will these vaccines be rolled out to hundreds of millions of Americans? Who will be offered them first, and when will the rest of us gain access? Will we take them when offered—and if not, will they be mandated? As these vaccines are dosed in unprecedented volumes here and around the world, how fast can they slow the spread of the coronavirus? Most of all, when can we get back to the activities we’ve been missing? Will vaccines ever allow life to return to normal? In the Club's final COVID program of the year, two experts will tell us what to expect, and when.
At times it seemed that 2020 would never end, but here comes December, right on schedule, and we're holding our annual "Michelle Meow Show" year-end special. We'll relive a bit of the past year, we'll have some celebrity video cameos, and our featured speaker for the night is Sarah McBride, whom Delaware voters elected in November as the nation's first transgender state senator. McBride's career is steeped in politics. She worked on campaigns, including Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden's 2010 campaign and Governor Jack Markell's 2008 race. In 2012, she interned at the White House, becoming the first transgender woman to work there in any role. In 2016, she became the first openly transgender person to speak at a national party convention when she addressed the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Join us for fun program of looking back and forward, as we celebrate the end of this momentous year and we consider what's in store in 2021.