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Restoring Trust

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

A newly installed City Council in the Netherlands. It is right after the elections and the pain stacking process of creating the Board of Aldermen[1]. After all this, the work starts: the City Council members need to collaborate, but all trust is gone.

We receive a call for help. Can you create a 24-hrs program that will restore the trust within the City Council? After several in depth talks with a small task force of 3 worried City Council members, we design and execute a program based on this.

What the participants are

  • City Council members are more than representatives of a political ideology, they are human beings: fathers, mothers, home cooks, readers, poets, chocolate lovers, sport fanatics, and so on and so forth…

  • These are highly skilled social animals: a high pace program with continuous group rearrangements will not worry them.

How the program should work

  • Trust is created by doing, not by listening to a presentation.

  • Hence, the program should offer 10% stage input versus 90% of being active.

What content will help

  • Art should play a key role, because it bonds on a very personal level.

  • Synchronized physical movement and a bit of stress will help them create oxytocin, the hormone that is responsible for a caring attitude.

  • The content should be diverse and include everything except politics.

How it should be facilitated

  • The facilitation needs to be of the highest standards to help them trust the program.

  • The facilitator needs to be approachable, inspiring and trustworthy.

And it worked. One of the participants, a lady who chairs many Council meetings, says: ‘a miracle happened’. These were the highlights:

  • A format called the Souper Culturel, in which the group enjoys a fantastic dinner, as well as great amusement between courses. However, the amusement is all done by themselves. Directed by 6 artists who helped them create acts, in a compact rehearsal of only 45 minutes, at the beginning of the evening. Theatre, poetry, music and even dances, it is all there.

  • A 20-minute workshop on paintings of Frans Hals, the famous 17th century Dutch painter. The workshop results in writing a short poem about being important.

  • 45 minutes of good old badminton, basketball, and football. Indoor and in small teams.

  • Transportation in a bus, sitting next to someone you do not know very well yet, helped by a conversation topic.

  • Creating your personal dish, helped by a world class Chef, from a local 1-star Michelin restaurant.

And as a result of all this: lot of laughing, joking, intimate conversations and forgetting politics. Mission accomplished.

Orange Gibbons’ Eric de Groot


[1] This being a key moment in local governance in the Netherlands. From the elected members of the council, a Board is formed. They act as the executive team, chaired by the Mayor and supervised by the City Council. As a political party, you want to have aldermen in the Board. That goes with political dealing and wheeling that causes a lot of mistrust and anger.

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