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.

Next post:

Previous post:

sign up for my free pdf on

How you can raise your civic engagement one civic act at a time

Don’t feel helpless or that you don’t have enough time. Civic engagement starts with a single act. I’m here to help you focus on what you believe in, commit to a plan of action and take that first act.

Sign up for my free PDF on “How you can raise your civic engagement with one civic act.”

give your support

Can you help me inspire others to make one civic act? Support me on Patreon and I’ll give you special perks and a chance to chime in on the direction of One Civic Act.