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. 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
 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.