How Trust Builds an Economy

Today I attended the Toronto Vital Signs event hosted by the Canadian Club, with keynote address by the CEO of the Toronto Foundation, Rahul Bahardwaj.  There were six things that Mr. Bahrdwaj highlighted that Toronto, and in fact, other major cities should focus on when thinking about the social fabric of their communities.  Of the six things that were highlighted, there was one in particular that I want to touch on - that of TRUST.

As was pointed out in this presentation, while finance and buisiness makes the economy grow, it is trust that is the fundamental glue that keeps societies together.  Without which we cannot have viable, sustainable communities because wouldn't trust the products and services that were being offered by those very individuals and businesses that are feeding the financial economic machine.

So how do we build trust in a city of several million people?  

This question drew me back to when I was working on the Nenshi campaign for his first election.  What came out of that was the Three Things for Calgary.  This grassroots movement took Calgary by storm.  There was swag, there were photo ops (bombs) with the #3, there were references to amazing projects that every day citizens were undertaking.  What's even more impressive is how this project has permeated the very fabric of the city.

So when asked the question of how to build trust, Mr. Bhardwaj's response is very similar to that of what Calgary is doing.  You start with your neighbour, then your block and then your community.  You create places that community wants to "own" and make into a living space.  You restore the trust within each other by not seeing the person next to you as "the other" but as someone who, together you can build something with or upon.

Toronto is at a cross-roads.  It is a city coming off the PanAm and Para-PanAM Games that has a legacy at its feet to grow upon.  I look forward to seeing where this Vital Signs report takes the Toronto Foundation this coming year and what projects and grassroots initatives it chooses to support.  More importantly, I look forward to hearing whether the premise that trust can actually build an economy can and will be measured.