Art Break: Restoring Public Trust – with a Promise

Public trust is in the doldrums. It’s not the first time it’s happened, of course. Trust in institutions periodically hits the skids and we collectively respond with different kinds of trust mechanisms to restore trust. Think lemon laws and occupy marches.

Could art be one of those trust mechanisms? Today, I went to a public trust book launch and discussion, the result of an interactive arts experience called Public Trust, which began last fall. Artist Paul Ramirez Jonas took a team of ambassadors to three locations around the Boston area and collected promises from 956 Bostonians. The promises were made very public, on a marquee, but also given to promisers as a charcoal rubbing. And they were codified in a book, too.

Great stories from the panel. One participant told of the promise she made, back in September. Two months later, she woke up in despair, after the election. But she remembered the promise she made: “I promise to never give up hope.” And she treasures the experience.

The first promise was, “I promise to show up.” The last promise was, “I will be a better citizen.” I’m trying to live up to those promises through this blog.

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