Build Trust

The confidence of people in your promise to listen, inform and empower them without manipulation. Don’t take this for granted as many communities (especially the most vulnerable) have had disappointments in the past.

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People will not invest time if they don’t trust the process you are offering.

If you value engagement and co-creation, trust has to be built one step at the time.


The City of Austin Equity Office is tasked with measuring and coordinating progress to tackle racial inequities in the city. Community trust was damaged over generations by social injustices such as the racial divides conceived in the 1928 master plan.

Austin’s Annual Equity Forum provides an important opportunity for city staff, community organizers and residents to build trust by discussing progress, sharing experiences and holding the city accountable using the Equity Dashboard that tracks progress in the city.

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Set expectations

Be open about what you are able to deliver, how ‘homework’ is going, what can go wrong.

Recruit local

Recruit facilitators locally and provide them with quality training to manage the process.


An open listening period is essential to build trust. Allow people to express themselves, their problems and desires. 

Prioritize problems, aspirations & needs

Help the community organize to express their priorities. Avoid steering them toward issues you need answered.


Investigate and report back on concerns and priorities for example by collecting data and convening city leaders.

Fund independent advice

People may not trust your experts. Help them find and pay for their own trusted advisers.

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