I was a guest this morning at the Berkeley Breakfast Club, a weekly gathering of 200 Berkeleyites.

The Breakfast Club was founded in 1936 “to foster, promote, exploit and publicize the educational, cultural, civic, commercial, industrial, recreational and residential assets of the city of Berkeley”. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Berkeley, and requires that an existing member act as sponsor.

The BBC has a weekly breakfast in the Berkeley City Club which, on the evidence of this morning, is very well attended. There’s informal conversation at the tables, minor club business, and a guest speaker. The members I met ranged across a decent spectrum of Berkeley’s civic and business life — educators, public officials, business owners, university and lab employees.  No one said to me that the meeting adhered to the Chatham House Rule, but it had that tone, and I’ll respect it (not that anything even remotely contentious was said by anyone).

How many more Berkeley institutions are there behind the scenes?

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...