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The Hillside Club Fireside meetings are held on the first Monday of most months (January, February, March, April, June, October, November).

During 2021 they will continue on Zoom until it is again safe for us to return to our beautiful Clubhouse.

During typical times:

They are open to the public and admission is free to members, with a suggested donation for non-members. No one is turned away for lack of funds. The meetings begin with Club business, followed by a featured speaker.  (See start time and info on this month's speaker below).


Fireside meetings are for civic engagement, a good way to see the club and get to know the members. Club members, our neighbors, and the general public are encouraged to attend.

We hope to see you here.

Due to COVID19 for the foreseeable future our Fireside Meetings will be held via ZOOM.


Thank you for your support in making  these events possible:

Past Events

November Fireside Meeting

Monday, November 1st, 2021

We will welcome Prof. Scott Stephens, Chair of the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, when he will discuss:

What’s Next? Forest Fires in California’s New Climate Reality









California's frequent forest fires have major problems and climate change is certainly a factor.  But fuels and forest structure are the most critical issues. 

The good news is that we have options to conserve our forests including prescribed fires, Indigenous burning, restoration thinning, and managed wildfire. The next 1-2 decades are critical regarding frequent fires in California. Come hear why our speaker remains optimistic IF we take decisive action now.

Dr. Stephens is interested in the interactions of wildland fire and ecosystems. This includes how prehistoric fires once interacted with ecosystems, how current wildland fires are affecting ecosystems, and how future fires and management may change this interaction. He is also interested in wildland fire and forest policy and how it can be improved to meet the challenges of the next decades. How fire will be affected by climate change is a recent area of his research.

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October Fireside Meeting

Monday, October 4th, 2021


In Conversation with Eric Allman: 

The Evolution of Sendmail and the Internet




Most Hillside Club members are aware than our new Club President is a wine aficionado, having seen him and his husband Kirk McKusick lead wine tastings, and coordinate the wine pouring at our Club dinners. But you may not realize that he is also an esteemed member of the Internet Hall of Fame, nor know how much you are indebted to Eric if you have ever used email. This conversation will discuss the origins of sendmail, the attitudes of the time, and how the Internet grew and changed over the years.

Join us on Monday, October 4th as 1st Vice President Arlene Baxter engages Eric Allman in conversation about those early, heady days as electronic communication began to be an essential part of all of our lives. 

A bit of background:  On January 1, 1983, the Internet was born from the ashes of the ARPAnet, and sendmail was already there. Written by Eric Allman as a stopgap measure in the early 1980s, it grew with the Internet, at one point delivering around 90% of all the email on the network.

The early developers of the Internet believed that "universal communication" would promote democracy and bring people closer together. Things didn't work out that way. Many folks, including Eric, gave away their work for free. That changed too. 

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Plastic Free July Special Event

Reducing Harm from PFAS Chemicals for Healthier People and Planet

Monday, July 12th at 7:30pm

Hybrid Event. In-person and online.






Reducing Harm from PFAS Chemicals for Healthier People and Planet
PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” are a class of thousands of related chemicals used as stain and water repellants and to manufacture Teflon and Gortex. They do not degrade in the environment, accumulate in people and animals, and have contaminated the drinking water of tens of millions.  PFAS exposure is  linked to cancer, obesity, and other serious health problems.  Rather than addressing the many PFAS forever chemicals one at a time, the chemical class approach allows decision makers in government and business to reduce the use of  this entire family of toxic chemicals for healthier products, people, and  environment.  Learn more about PFAS here.


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Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley and the executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute.  Her work with government and business has contributed to preventing the use of harmful chemicals including flame retardants and PFAS in children's sleepwear, furniture and other products world-wide.  During Blum’s illustrated talk, she will share some of her favorite stories and discuss scientific strategies for positive change.   She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.  More information at www.greensciencepolicy.org   and www.arleneblum.com

Put on your plant goggles and discover the beauty of California native plants and their potential in your garden. Listen to the tales of plants whose voices are seldom heard, including native favorites that are abundant in gardens but rare in the wild, as well as innocuous-seeming but pesky non-native plants that have had devastating consequences in this landscape.

Stay tuned for tips on shopping for and selecting plants from nurseries. Join us for a deep look on how transforming your garden back to its wild state is within your power to help promote pollinator habitat, natural resource conservation, and biodiversity.











Allyson Greenlon is a plant lover through and through. She currently runs Moonpie Garden Co., a native plant garden design and installation business, which she uses to help combat plant blindness and help her clients fall in love with plants and become stewards of the land. Previously, she was the Public Programs Coordinator for the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley. She received a B.S. in Plant Biology and M.S. in Horticulture from UC Davis.


Her favorite plant is the Fremontodendron californicum—California flannelbush.

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Monday, April 5th to celebrate Earth Day,

and the notion that Every Day is Earth Day! 

Our speaker will be Stephan Orme, founder of Untrash the East Bay. He will share the progress that his group has made so far to remove trash from urban areas, parks and homeless encampments. But a key aspect of the organization is education, and changing behavior so that once a location is un-trashed, it is likely to stay that way. He has now expanded his vision to Untrash The Planet, untrash.it, with a goal of building a software platform to help launch 10,000 Untrash Groups around the world. Join us to learn about this wonderful, locally-grown project, and how we can help be part of the solution!


Monday, April 5th. Virtual Doors Open at 6:45 for Members to check-in and catch up, followed by a brief business meeting.

The presentation will begin at 7:30 pm.

Missed the presentation?
Watch the video.



We have scheduled a morning of clean-up

for Club members and friends to the Club.

Join us!

Sunday, April 11 at 11 am

Aquatic Park Playground, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA

For details on meeting place CLICK HERE

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Join us on Sunday, April 11th at 11am

We will be working on flat terrain at South Aquatic Park.

The meeting location and details are coming soon.

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Past Fireside Meetings

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A Soirée with Sonatas and Sweets


You are invited to a members-exclusive event!


Join us on Monday, March 1, starting at 6:45 pm for a gathering of our member community. At 7 pm we will begin a brief business meeting where we will share some very positive news. We will conclude with the vote for the slate of 2021-22 Board of Directors (for which a quorum of members is required).


Following the business meeting you will be treated to an exclusive Fireside Performance. This event is supported in part with income from the Mattke Fund.*

Pianist Andy Canepa will play two Beethoven piano sonatas:


  • No. 7 in D major, Op. 10, No. 3

  • No. 26 in E♭ major, Op. 81a ("The Farewell")


Our guest musician will share some thoughts about the pieces he will play for us

as part of the extended celebration of the 250th birthday of Ludwig von Beethoven.

This engaging guest will also take some questions at the conclusion of the concert.


Members are invited to choose a complimentary delectable dessert from Lavender Bakery!

Those of you who participated in the Holiday dinner know how wonderful these desserts are. If you missed that event, now is your chance to be treated to a delicious treat!


Choose either: Chocolate Raspberry Flourless Torte 

This gluten-free, dense and beautiful dessert was the Club favorite!  or


Classic cheesecake, topped with fresh fruit



Please mail Manager@hillsideclub.org with your choice of dessert by Monday, February 22nd if you’d like your sweet treat!

Dessert boxes will be available for pickup at the Club between 4 and 6 pm on Monday, March 1, and then please join the gathering starting at 6:45 to check in and say Hi. The business session will begin at 7 pm, with the concert to follow.


About the artist:

Bay Area trained early musician and pianist Andrew Canepa works within an exciting early music community in the Bay Area, performing music from the medieval period to the 20th Century as a conductor, harpsichordist, organist, percussionist, and pianist. Canepa enthusiastically conducts a wide variety of talented Bay Area musicians and performs harpsichord and organ continuo in a number of early music ensembles. In addition to performing, Mr. Canepa holds a full-time position as Director of Music Ministry at St Mary Magdalen Church in Berkeley, where over the last 14 years, he has built a vibrant and exciting sacred early music program. He is also a piano teacher at Crowden Music School. 



*The Mattke Fund is a bequest from the estate of Avis and Arnold Mattke to fund programs which benefit and enrich our membership.

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Our next Fireside Meeting is now available to watch online.

COVID 19: what has science learned, and what does it still not know? 



COVID 19: what has science learned, and what does it still not know?

Dr. Lee Riley will talk about the science of the virus and the vaccines, the challenges involved, and what we might expect in the post-COVID world.



Lee Riley, MD is Professor and Head of Division of Infectious Disease and Vaccinology at the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley.  He is a physician who has been trained in both epidemiology and molecular biology research.  During the COVID19 pandemic, his laboratory has been tracking the spread of coronavirus variants and began to address the impact of this spread on the vaccine and drug efficacy.

He has collaborations in multiple countries, including Japan, China, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Colombia. 


Click on the image below to watch the video of the talk from 

Monday, January 11 at 7:30pm

Virtual Virtuosos: keeping the music alive online 


Music has played a key role in keeping up the spirits of so many of us during the pandemic, whether just as an audience member, performer, or muted participant from our Zoom window. Join a discussion of how these Divine Divas from diverse musical genres have adapted their music over the past months, and are making plans for the future. You look forward to enjoying some of the music of these amazing women as well!

Club audiences many times have had the pleasure of hearing soprano Eliza O'Malley with the Berkeley Chamber Opera. Shira Kammen, a multi-instrumentalist well known for her expertise in both early and traditional music, has graced our FIreside a year ago, as well as coordinating the music for our Holiday Pageant a month ago. Sandy O and Pat Humphries, known to their many fans as Emma's Revolution, normally hail from Oakland, and write songs on themes of social justice, hope and community building.  

These talented musicians will discuss the challenges and opportunities of creating and sharing music during this pandemic, and beyond.

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Watch the latest Fireside Program from:

Monday, November 2 at 7:30pm










Join us on November 2, Election-Eve, at 7:30 pm for a discussion that will NOT be about politics! Instead, let’s talk about some pleasant things we CAN control, and ways we can look forward to yummy things emerging from the darkness!

The Zen of Autumn Planting:

Communing with Compost, Delving into the Dirt, and Eating your Efforts!


Gardening and producing your own food and plants can bring a sense of pride, satisfaction, and trust knowing exactly where your food is coming from. And composting can be an enriching and environmentally friendly way of disposing of old produce and degradable items that can help your gardening ventures. That kind of rot we are happy to have in abundance!


Now is the ideal time to plan your fall garden to have edible options even in the cool weather, and the perfect time for planting herbs, many trees, and other food-bearing crops. We chose this topic knowing how much our Club members enjoyed discussing their spring gardens this year. Let’s look forward to showing off our collective bounty next spring!


Our speaker is Lori Caldwell, who calls herself

CompostGal. Lori is an Alameda County

Master Composter, self-taught edible gardener,

and residential sheet mulch maven. 

 Her mission: “To connect people to the soil

and all that it provides” 

She has been happily teaching sustainable

gardening classes and transforming yards in the 

San Francisco Bay Area since 2007.



Members: Log in at 7 pm for greetings and Club announcements, followed by some time in break-out rooms and some more personal time with fellow members. The presentation will begin promptly at 7:30 pm, and will be followed by a Q & A session.

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Monday, October 5th at 7:30pm

“Daley’s Scenic Park: Where the Hillside Club Was Born”

Join Club Historian David Mostardi and Historian and Club Secretary Daniella Thompson as they take us on a virtual tour of the neighborhood that was shaped by the philosophy of the Hillside Club and its early members, to build in harmony with nature. 

Appropriately, this presentation will occur on the 122nd anniversary of the first meeting of the Hillside Club.



Daley Scenic Park (ca. 1915), Doras Briggs Collection, BAHA Archives.

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Click below to watch the presentation:

Plastic and the Pandemic: how we curb increased use


While our planet has benefitted in numerous ways from the Great Lull

resulting from Shelter in Place, plastic use, especially single-use plastic,

is on the rise. Join Hillside Club Vice President Arlene Baxter in

conversation with Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology

Center, as they discuss the dynamics of this change, and suggestions

for positive action.  They will provide background to plastic use and

disposal, especially here in the Bay Area, and provide an update from

when they co-sponsored an event a year ago entitled The Plastic Crisis.

Included will be a discussion with Berkeley Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn,

discussing the ground-breaking Berkeley ordinance banning single-use

plastic food ware. The presentation will include suggestions for positive

changes that individuals can take to limit plastic use in their own house-

holds, as well as influencing change within communities and industry.

Look forward to a snippet from the feature film The Story of Plastic.


This event is jointly sponsored by the Ecology Center, the

Bridge Association of REALTORS, and The Hillside Club, and is part

of the 2020 events of Plastic Free July.


If you have questions, on the topic of Plastic and the Pandemic,

please send them to Arlene at EastBay.Bungalows@gmail.com


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Martin Bourque

Executive Director, Ecology Center

Since 2000, Martin has led the Ecology Center, a community-based organization incorporated on Earth Day in 1970. Under Martin's leadership, the Ecology Center is leveraging local direct community service programs to have state and national impact. Martin has spearheaded innovative efforts such as creating a farmers’ market industry group, pioneering electronic food stamp access and incentives at farmers’ markets, and passing the nation’s first Soda Tax. By linking local grassroots grit with highly competent program implementation, and increasingly effective policy advocacy, Martin has led the Ecology Center to become a high impact engine for change.


Arlene Baxter

 Arlene is a Realtor by occupation, with a special interest in and knowledge of homes in the styles of the Arts & Crafts movement. It was thus a natural fit for her to become active at the Hillside Club, a 1924 John White design, where she currently serves as Vice President, and coordinator of the Fireside Series of presentations. She is also a passionate environmental activist, chairing the Climate Action Committee of the local Association of REALTORS. She also helped create the Green Designation of the National Association of REALTORS, a designation she holds. 


"Symmetry and Islamic Aesthetics" 

Presentation by Carol Bier

A leisurely sojourn to the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal, this illustrated lecture will explore aspects of symmetry and beauty that define great monuments of Islamic art and architecture. Together we will explore the relationship of symmetry and Islamic aesthetics to gain a deeper understanding of beauty.
Hillside Club member, Carol Bier is Research Scholar with the Center for Islamic Studies, here in Berkeley at the Graduate Theological Union. She will share on-location photos, including some from her most recent visit to India in early March, just before the global pandemic was recognized. As an historian of Islamic art, Carol has traveled and published extensively on Islamic art and architecture, including two books and numerous peer-reviewed articles in academic journals.

Watch June 1, 2020 Fireside Meeting:

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

Fireside Meetings in 2020

January 6th "Around the Fireside" a gathering of members with musical entertainment by two of our professional musician members: David Mostardi on accordion, Celia Ramsay vocalist, both accompanied by Shira Kammen on violin.


February 3rd: Berkeley Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn: Sustainability and other Key Berkeley Initiatives


March 2nd: Dr. Leslie Saul-Gershenz and Norm Gershenz:

 Is insect biodiversity, biomass and abundance declining?

—What does the scientific literature say and what can YOU do?


Starting April 6th and continuing through May: Due to COVID/S.I.P we have been having member Virtual Fireside gatherings to check in on members of our community, including sharing of resources, tours of member gardens, and a Virtual trip with travel photos from our members.


June 1st: Our first Virtual Fireside Presentation: Member Carol Bier: Symmetry and Islamic Aesthetics


July 6th will be an online Community Event, open to the public.

Like last year, there will be no member meeting, so it will start at 7 pm.

The topic will be Plastic and the Pandemic: regaining momentum to ban single use plastics. This event corresponds with the beginning of Plastic-Free July, an international movement to raise awareness of the significant costs and health risks that result from plastic that is used once, and remains on the planet forever.


August we are planning an interview with one of our members to discuss their work. 

Sept and December are normally the Fall and Holiday dinners. Stay tuned as we determine what makes sense for us as we learn more about the status of the virus.

The Moody-Maurer party on its way to the Big Game
Oscar Maurer9
Maybeck's automobile dealership on Van Ness
Mrs. Moody
Oakland Daily Evening Tribune 7 April 1877
download - Copy

The Hillside Club was founded by a group of Berkeley women who wished to protect the Berkeley hillsides by promoting the development of the community in environmentally sensitive ways.

In 1895, Bernard Maybeck built a steep-roofed, unpainted redwood house for Charles Keeler
on the corner of Highland Place and Ridge Road. It was the architect's first Berkeley commission. The house blended with the surrounding hills, and Keeler was worried that the

effect would "become completely ruined when others come and build stupid white-painted boxes all about us." "You must see to it," advised Maybeck, "that all the houses about you are in keeping with your own." The germ had been planted, and Keeler began recruiting his friends to buy land and build artistic houses next to his own.

A year later, Volney Moody, a retired banker, commissioned A.C. Schweinfurth to build him a clinker-brick house on the corner of Le Conte and Le Roy avenues. Keeler persuaded Moody and his family to join his group of neighbors. Moody's two stepdaughters, Margaret Robinson and May Gray, were artistically inclined—Madge (who would later marry the photographer Oscar Maurer) was a writer and lecturer, May a musician. Along with a few other women of the neighborhood, they organized the Hillside Club to disseminate Maybeck's architectural principles in a more formal fashion. 

The club's stated mission was "to protect the hills of Berkeley from unsightly grading and the building of unsuitable and disfiguring houses; to do all in our power to beautify these hills and above all to create and encourage a decided public opinion on these subjects."

Thanks to the efforts of these women, the Hillside School was built in 1900 on the corner of Virginia Street and Le Roy Avenue. It was a rustic brown-shingle structure with unpeeled tree trunks serving as porch posts and rough branches making up the porch railing. "For the first time," wrote Keeler, "a note of artistic simplicity had been incorporated in a Berkeley school building."

In 1902, seeking more political clout, the club invited men to join. Among the male members were major business figures such as Frank Wilson, the developer of Daley's Scenic Park; notable artists like William Keith and Oscar Maurer; key university officials, among them U.C. President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and Supervising Architect John Galen Howard; and cultural leaders like Maybeck and Keeler.

In 1905, a lot was purchased on Cedar Street, and Maybeck began designing an artistic clubhouse. The building opened to great acclaim on September 8, 1906. It was the venue for many prominent cultural and social activities. The building was destroyed in the great fire of 1923. A year later, Annie Maybeck's brother, the architect John White, designed the current clubhouse, designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2004. 

As time passed the club changed its emphasis to include dramatic presentations and a broader range of cultural events, and by the late 1920s a dancing committee was formed. The club's focus changed from civic affairs to the social and cultural life of the members.

During the late 1930s and 1940s regular monthly programs were instituted and continued despite wartime food shortages and rationing which complicated the club dinners. Also, during this time the club did its part for the war effort, opening the club one day a month as a U.S.O. center.

In the 1950s the club relaxed the residence requirements to include new members living in such exotic places as El Cerrito, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Concord, and San Francisco.


As the times have changed, so has the club, but as one historian commented,"...tradition is the fine cement that binds our club...makes it an organization which is firmly established in Berkeley...adds to its charm...and provides the solidarity so necessary when diverse people

work together."  Bernard Maybeck said of the club, “This is an organization of neighbors who like one another

and wish to have a sort of common home for the hours of their meeting together.  It must feel that way!”
Even today, in this fast-paced computer age, the Hillside Club provides historical
perspective and a sense of community with its social and cultural events.


                This picture shows people at the first dinner of the Hillside Club in 1910​

Read retrospective article about the Hillside Club in the The East Bay Monthly.

Learn more about local history and architecture.

Visit the Berkeley  Architectural Heritage Association. 

Read about Bernard Maybeck