Category Archives: Interest Groups

Exploring Our Interest Groups: Cultural History by Cherril Peabody

One of our interest groups, Cultural History, is a book group with a difference. They read books that focus on American and world culture, seeking to learn how we got where we are.  They are just finishing up their exploration of If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley, a book about the evolution of rooms and what goes on in them.  (Parenthetically, the versatile Worsley has written and narrated a TV program that just started showing locally on PBS: “Secrets of the Six Wives” — of Henry VIII, of course.)

Next on the Cultural History agenda is a book called The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, who has also written well-received biographies of Steve Jobs and Henry Kissinger, among others.  It’s about the evolution of the digital age, which began with work by Ada Byron, Lord Byron’s daughter, of all people. Two components were needed for the digital age: computers that individuals could use, and the Internet, which involves collaboration. Digitalization since then has been accomplished through collaboration, not through individual invention. If you think about it, there were no Edisons or Bells or Morses whom everyone knows involved in its development. Also important are the skills needed to make it work, both collaborative and technical. The final key point is that the digital age involves the intersection of the humanities and science, and those who work with it must be comfortable with both worlds.

Travel Interest Group Takes Flight by Pat Winkle

travel-groupIn September, four members of our travel group, Linda Cook, Sandi Schoenman, Shirley Wheeler and Pat Winkle, flew to Seattle for a five day visit. We started our tour with a harbor cruise in the afternoon, followed by sunset and dinner at the top of the Space Needle in the Seattle Center.  Mastering the Monorail system, we returned several times to the Center where we enjoyed the beauty of the Chihuly Glass Museum and Gardens, lunch at the museum’s eclectic restaurant and an interesting visit to the Museum of POP Culture, formerly the EMP. That museum, a Frank Gehry architectural design, is committed to ideas that fuel contemporary popular culture, including exhibits of Star Trek, Nirvana, WOW (The World of Wearable Art) and much more!

Over the next several days we took a trolley tour of the city, visited the Olympic Sculpture Park, Aquarium, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum and the Central Public Library, which has received architectural awards for its design. We were very impressed with its design, unique mechanized book return system and, of course, its resources.

We were even adventurous, riding the Great Wheel and the Wings over Washington (like Disney’s Soaring over California). We finished our tour with a visit to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Exhibit, learning about the many projects they fund to improve education, reduce hunger and poverty, fight disease, empower women and “inspire people to take action to change the world.”

Photo Challenge for Interest Groups by Cherril Peabody

Capture AAUW Moments!

Capture AAUW Moments!

Our interest groups have had a great year. They have visited a lot of dynamic art installations and galleries, walked to a lot of great lunches, played lots of fun games, eaten a lot of tasty dinners, read many thought-provoking and entertaining books, learned about policy issues around the world, planned interesting trips, watched sad and funny movies, and more.

The one thing that has been missing in many of our articles about the different interest groups and what they do is photographs. So now I challenge you: Take some photos of what you’re doing at your interest group meetings and send them to me to be published in the newsletter.

For your book group meeting, devise a tableau that would illustrate the book you are reading, or wear a hat or make a food dish and take a photo of it and send it to me. Find a graphic to go with a report of a particularly interesting book. Take a neat photo of a painting you all liked. Angela and Kim, our hard-working editors, will be thrilled! Thanks!

Interest Groups Updates By Cherril Peabody

Anne Rhodes & Lisa Carpenter at Halloween Scrabble

Anne Rhodes & Lisa Carpenter at Halloween Scrabble

The Showcase meeting was a big success. Members tell me they appreciated learning more about our outreach programs. They also enjoyed learning more from our guest speaker, Reva Wittenberg, about how the rising number of sexual assaults on college campuses and their effect on women students are being addressed. Many thanks are due to Sharon Norris and Jane Cooley who brought refreshments and to all the people who helped set up for the meeting or helped clean up afterward.

Quite a few women signed up to participate in interest groups, but it’s not too late to add your name to the list of one of the groups that is seeking more members. These are Board Games (day or evening), Couples Dining Out, Cultural History, Great Decisions III (day), Readers’ Theater, Scrabble Just for Fun and Walk-to-Lunch.  Three other groups have plenty of members but can take more because most members don’t attend on a regular basis, and they don’t meet in members’ homes.  They are Art and Architecture, Film Fans and Singles Dining Out. You can find descriptions of all of these groups in your 2016-17 Membership Directory and Handbook.

We tried to get several new interest groups going and had mixed results. Three of them – Charades, a couples dining group for Millennials and Gen Xers, and an additional evening Great Decisions group – did not make the cut. Opera Buffs and Women of the World had several sign-ups each, but none of the women who signed up expressed willingness to be the leader of either group, so these groups cannot proceed. The Opera Buffs group would attend Metropolitan Opera screenings together at local theaters, and the Women of the World group would hear presentations from women who have experienced other cultures.

If you are interested in participating in one of the interest groups that is accepting new members or if you might be willing to chair either the Opera Buffs or Women of the World groups, please contact me at or 916-973-0821.

Art and Architecture Interest Group Visits Sherry Karver Studio by Linda Patterson

art-and-architectureThe Oct. 7 meeting of the Art and Architecture group was held in Oakland at the home and studio of artist Sherry Karver. Karver, who exhibits her work in major U.S. cities and who has donated a painting to the Crocker Art Museum, is an artist whose work “addresses urban living, webcams, and other forms of surveillance and deals with a multitude of issues concerning each of us today, such as loneliness and alienation in our fast paced society.”

Her photo-based paintings and sculptures reference masses of people in a highly technological age. Karver begins her work with a black and white photograph taken in a public place, most notably Grand Central Station, Italy, or France. Text is added digitally, and then the photographic print is mounted on a 2 5/8” deep wood panel. With numerous oil glazes, Karver adds color and then coats the final surface with UV resin, a reflective surface that sometimes adds the viewer’s own likeness as part of the work.

The studio, located in the former Rockridge Women’s Club that Karver purchased many years ago, includes a mini gallery where many of her large painting are hung. Karver graciously explained her process, answered questions, and offered cookies during the visit.

Interest Group Updates by Cherril Peabody

At our recent Showcase meeting, quite a few people signed up to join an interest group. Here’s another opportunity for you to sign up if you were unable to be there. If you would like to add to your enjoyment of branch membership by joining one of these groups, please contact Cherril Peabody at or 916-973-0821.

 The following existing groups are accepting new members:

  • Art and Architecture
  • Board Games (Day and Evening)
  • Book groups 2, 6, 12, and 33
  • Chicago Bridge
  • Cultural History
  • Film Fans
  • Great Decisions III (Day)
  • Readers’ Theater
  • Scrabble Just for Fun
  • Singles Dining Out
  • Travel
  • Walk-To-Lunch
  • W.O.W. (Women of the World-Needs a new leader)

There is a description of each group in the 2016-17 blue Membership Directory and Handbook.

We have several new prospective groups, most of which were described in the September Capital Ideas newsletter:

  • Couples Dining Out (Younger Couples – needs a leader)
  • Great Decisions IV (Evening- needs a leader)
  • Charades (Has a Leader)
  • Opera (Attending Metropolitan Opera screenings locally – needs a leader)

volunteer-clip-artPlease note that most of the proposed new groups and one of the existing groups need leadership, so please indicate when you contact me if you would be willing to lead a group.



What’s New with the Interest and Book Groups This Year? by Cherril Peabody

book groupExisting Groups: Several interest groups and book groups have some openings for new
members, so now’s your chance to sign up!

Great Decisions III meets on the third Monday at 1 p.m. They learn about what’s going on in various parts of the world and have great discussions, not to mention a great time!

Have you ever had a secret desire to be an actress? Here’s your opportunity to try it out. Readers’ Theater meets on the second Wednesday in the evening. They read plays (with lots of attitude!) provided by a branch in Southern California.

If you enjoy word games, you’ll enjoy the Scrabble group that meets on the last Monday afternoon of each month. Several twosomes play at once, and then they switch for a second round.

The two Board Games groups also can accept a few new members. One meets the last Thursday of each month at 1 p.m., and the other on the last Friday evening at 7 p.m. They play all kinds of non-computer games.

Walk to Lunch members choose an area to walk in and then go to a restaurant in the area for lunch. They would welcome a few more members.

Book Group 12 members come from all over the county to meet on the first Thursday evening, mostly reading fiction, but sometimes nonfiction.

Book Group 33 members mostly hail from Carmichael and Arden-Arcade, but carpoolers from other areas are most welcome at their meetings bright and early on the first Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

New Groups: A couple of our existing groups are full, and their leaders feel that a new section could be started, so we need to find out if there is sufficient interest and leadership available in order to proceed.

Both Great Decisions evening groups are full, so Great Decisions IV would be another evening group. Obviously, working women can’t fill the openings in Great Decisions III, which meets during the day, so let’s see if there is enough interest to start a new evening one.

Couples Dining Out is pretty full, too. There’s a sense that there would be interest among younger married or committed members for their own dining out group. Is this true? We don’t know unless we ask.

WOW (Women of the World) is not a new program, but it is returning to its roots as an interest group. Since meetings will be held in private homes where space is limited, members will need to enroll moving forward. We do have leadership for WOW, so all you have to do is sign up with Cherril Peabody. You can pre-enroll now or sign up at the Showcase meeting if space is still available.

Contact Interest Group Director Cherril Peabody to pre-enroll for the fall at or 916-973-0821.


Exploring Our Interest Groups – Cultural History Group by Cherril Peabody

The Cultural History group, formerly known as History of the World, looks at the early DNA of modern life, discussing innovations that have brought about social, economic and personal change. Members trace events and ideas as they have evolved over time to see how they are affecting our current lives and their prospects for the future. Members like to continue getting cultural historyto know each other, so each one comes to meetings with a new question for anyone who would like to answer about her own life as related to the topic, which often brings a lot of laughter. Some of the past and future topics from books we’ve read are lasers, women, noise, working solo or in networks, digital communication, chocolate, wine/beer, tea/coffee. The group chooses books with topics members are curious about but know little about initially. Rosa Lee Black is Chair of this group. Contact her at

Attention, Branch members: If you have an idea for a new interest group to start this fall, and especially if you are willing to chair the group if it gets going, please contact Interest Group Director Cherril Peabody, We are planning to publicize ideas for new groups in advance of the Showcase Meeting and solicit members for them so we can hit the ground running in the fall. Thanks for your help!

WOW (Women of the World) will be returning this year to its original status as an interest group. As we are envisioning it, the group will have a set membership of 12 to 15 members and will plan three or four presentations for its membership only in members’ homes. Anne Rhodes has agreed to chair the group. She is starting to take names now for membership, so if you would like to join this group, contact her at

Exploring Our Interest Groups – Book Groups June Newsletter by Cherril Peabody

book groupProbably the most popular interest groups we have are our book groups. Back in the days when the branch had over 1,000 members, we sponsored at least 33 book groups. We know this because book group 33 is still meeting many years later, and many of the other book groups have been meeting for 25 years or longer. Currently we have nine book groups.

Most of the groups meet every month, though a few take the summers and/or December off. They read a variety of different kinds of books and may have specific guidelines they follow in picking the books they read. Book group 8, for example, only reads books by women authors and alternates fiction and non-fiction during the year. When groups meet to pick their books for the year, members will volunteer to lead the discussion on a book at one meeting and to host at another meeting. Smaller groups may need to double up on reviewing and hosting duties. Most groups meet in members’ homes, and usually the hostess provides refreshments.

Anyone who is interested in joining a book group for next year can contact Book Group Coordinator Linda Cook, or 916-962-0653. A few of the groups are unable to accept new members at this time because of space considerations, but most of them are taking new members.

Exploring Our Interest Groups-Fun and Games by Cherril Peabody

All dressed for board games fun! Dawn Boyd, Lisa Carpenter, Nanette Ng, Alice Bauer

All dressed for board games fun! Dawn Boyd, Lisa Carpenter, Nanette Ng, Alice Bauer

Our AAUW branch members like to play games!  We have five interest groups that feature games of various kinds. Two of the groups play board games, another plays Scrabble, and two others play Bridge.

Anne Rhodes is the chair of the two board game groups. One meets in the afternoon and the other meets in the evening, both at her home.  Spouses and significant others are welcome to participate in these groups. Both groups would welcome new members. For more information, contact Anne at or 916-692-5075.

Vivian Counts chairs the Scrabble group, which meets at her home on the last Monday afternoon of the month. Attendees play one or two other players, so there are usually several games going on at once. More Scrabble players would be welcome in this group, too. To find out more about it, contact Vivian at or 916-483-8827.

The Bridge for Fun group is chaired by Jane Reinmuth. The members meet on the first Tuesday afternoon of each month. Margot Leidig chairs the Chicago Bridge group, which meets on the fourth Wednesday morning of the month. Neither group has any openings currently for regular players.