Why We Should Value Trust First

Progress Namibia - Why We Should Value Trust First
21 February 2017

Those of you who have been reading our Weekly regularly might remember the work we are doing on moving towards a wellbeing economy. As part of this we have developed some indicators which we tested in some suburbs around Windhoek. Once we got the results we decided to bring these back to a pilot community (Katutura East) and try some citizen-led activities that will improve some of these indicators from the ground up. We held a few community meetings, and through prioritisation exercises, four key priority areas were chosen to focus community energy on improving. Trust, interestingly enough, was one of them. One of the residents stood up and said emphatically "if we don't trust each other first, we will not solve any of our other problems!" In our current economy, we undervalue the most important things in society (ecosystem services that ensure our own survival, social cohesion and unity, trust, equality, justice). In fact, the system which we have constructed for ourselves destroys these very things.

A committee on 'trust' was set up for Katutura East, and we had our first meeting on Saturday morning. It lasted almost four hours, and we were 17 committee members. We sat in a circle on the stoep of the Councillors office and got to know each other. We each got a chance to define what trust meant to us. And we found that we all felt similar. Trust, love, reliability and caring are almost synonymous. Having people in the community that are there for you. Whether it is family, or a complete stranger who lives a few blocks away. If there was trust in the community, all learners and students would have spaces for studying, grandparents would feel safe in their homes with their windows open, mothers could let their children play freely on the sidewalk with the neighbours kids or visit community centres for games or learning anytime of the day. The community could share an organic garden in which everyone contributes, and everyone shares the rewards. The streets would be clean. Parents could hang up their clothes in the yard and leave the house without worrying whether the clothes will still be there when they come back. An old lady could give the neighbour's son her bank card and he would come back with her groceries and the change from the money he drew for her. There would be balance between give and take.

So we talked about these things for a while. And we decided we needed to expand these conversations to the entire community. We don't really know the way forward yet, but we'll will find that out the more we meet and start finding solutions. Building trust takes time. We decided to meet weekly, on Saturdays, and every time someone hosts us at their house.

These might seem like small steps. But the more we embrace such small changes in our lives, the more value we put on things that actually matter.