Paul Lindman (standing) leads Westminster Place’s Great Decisions discussion group. Photo credit: Westminster Place

On Tuesdays, Westminster Place in Evanston, IL, turns into a United Nations conference. Led by resident Paul Lindman, the community hosts a Great Decisions discussion program each month. 

“We really like the idea of contributing to the community, and this was one of the ways that I’ve done that,” Lindman said. “One of the things we really have tried to do is open it to anyone. Some people are very interested and involved, and some people are observers and not talkers and that’s fine with us. We are happy to have anybody there, it helps to build kind of a community spirit.”

The program is a product of the Foreign Policy Association, and discussion topics range from Mideast realignment, NATO, climate technology and competition, among many others. The group has been very popular in the community, with 30 to 45 participants showing up to each session. According to Lindman, the specificity of each topic ensures that residents learn something new at each session. 

“They have a distinct focus, but it really gives us a chance to open our minds to some problems that we may not have been aware of or if we were aware of them, we get more depth,” Lindman said. “All of them at some point [tie] back to United States foreign policy and it’s asking us the questions to think about. What can the US do to affect some of these issues? Those are some great questions, some great topics really diving deep.”

Given Evanston’s close ties to Northwestern University, the course’s subject matter is a big draw for many of the resident “brainiacs” with ties to the university. Much like Kevin Costner’s character in “Field of Dreams,” Lindman, a Northwestern Kellogg School of Management alumnus, had the foresight to recognize that “if you build it, they will come.” 

“We live in a community that’s got a lot of connection to Northwestern, and there are a number of former faculty from Northwestern, but also people who have been very active in business and other professional areas,” he said. “They’ve been active thinkers most of their lives [but] not everybody wants to continue on with the same thing that they’ve always done. It helps to keep stretching our minds so we don’t become a bunch of navel gazers.”

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