Building Trust Through Understanding Cultural Identity

In my last post I explained in brief what trust building is, how important it is and what ways to approach it. I also mentioned how it can be difficult working with a community that may not trust your organization. This week in my social work practice class, we talked about how non government organizations (NGO's) often enter foreign countries with good intentions but dismiss the trauma that is present in these communities. I think the same thing happens here in America, in Richmond, when organizations enter some of the historic neighborhoods to work.

In this blog post, I would like to discuss what distrust could look like for communities that have experienced some form of collective trauma. It is my opinion, that in order to truly begin work and build trust in these communities, reconciliation must occur on some level. I am not an expert on reconciliation efforts and am in fact beginning to study it. Some organizations may not feel it is there place to be involved in reconciliation efforts. However, I would argue that at minimum each organization should enter a community with a certain sensitivity and trauma-informed knowledge. 

The below Ted Talk introduces the topic of building a resilient community through healing cultural traumas and supporting cultural identity. After you take a look at this video, I ask you consider how the residents of the community you plan to enter are connected to their environment. Ask yourself what it may have been like for them to shift their way of life around a policy decision, implementation of a program or the building of a structure across the street  from their home.

Towards the middle and end of the talk, the speaker focuses on how a community engagement was effective because it critically utilized the cultural aspects of his community. The approach was collective and bottom up. It intentionally used the skills and social capital that were present within the community. I believe those of us in the helping profession can learn a lot from focusing community engagement around culture.

 

Please contact me at jackie@storefrontrichmond.org or comment below to discuss further.

UPCOMING MONTHLY TOPICS:

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE STRENGTHS? HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE NEEDS?

Understanding why recognizing resiliency is just as important as identifying the problems when assessing a community

WHAT IS AN INTERVENTION WITHOUT COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT?

Examining why community engagement is the basis for an effective intervention

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF IT WORKED?

A summary of ways to evaluate community interventions and practice.