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London’s Speakers’ Corner inspires local forum

Riderwood residents use their backgrounds to lead current events discussions

Created date

February 19th, 2018
David Ebert leads Riderwood community members in a discussion about the Iranian Nuclear Agreement.

  David Ebert leads Riderwood community members in a discussion about the Iranian Nuclear Agreement.


When the accomplished and intelligent people who live at Riderwood get together to talk about current affairs, a lively intellectual discussion is bound to ensue.

That’s exactly what happens at the monthly meetings of a resident-run club called The Forum. 

Diverse topics

The group was inspired by the Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, where debates, discussions, and public speaking often take place. At meetings of The Forum, Riderwood residents usually take turns giving a short talk on a topic and then opening it up to the group for discussion and debate.

The club was started a little over three years ago, and previous discussions have focused on immigration, climate change, the global water shortage, and bitcoin. 

“As you can see, the topics are pretty diverse, and they’re always presented by Riderwood residents in an effort to keep our minds active and engaged,” says group leader David Ebert, who is a retired nuclear engineer.

Given his professional background, David recently led a discussion about the pros and cons of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement in light of President Trump’s recent actions. And he has previously talked to the group about the North Korean nuclear situation. 

“I presented some background about North Korean nuclear development, and then I gave six possible scenarios, which led to a big, long discussion,” David says. “So that worked very well.”

Let’s talk politics

Politics has obviously been top of mind for many people over the last couple of years. So The Forum took on that topic as well. 

During the 2016 presidential election, they organized a panel discussion to explore the platforms of the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian parties.

Any community member is welcome to present for The Forum on any topic that interests him or her. 

David’s brother Paul, an electrical engineer who also lives at Riderwood, has led a discussion about the evolution of the universe. Another resident, a professor at the University of Maryland, spoke to the group about reliability engineering, a type of systems engineering that focuses on making production processes and products more efficient and dependable. 

Riderwood is home to more than 2,000 retirees, many of whom had successful careers in government, academia, medicine, law, engineering, and many other interesting fields. Riderwood neighbors have traveled all over the world, and they represent a wide variety of religious beliefs, ethnicities, and life experiences. 

“A lot of the people here are pretty highly educated and in different disciplines, which is very nice for discussions,” David says.