Tag: CSC

The Trust Agreement

By Titus Tomlinson and Aniko Drlik-Muehleck

History and relationships in rural communities run deep. This creates a rich web of networks and shared wisdom that can support a community through tough times.

The flip-side of longstanding relationships, however, can be paralysis. As humans, we remember the past and in particular, we remember the wrongs of the past. If someone snubs or undermines me, I’m not likely to want to work with them again. I might even go so far as to tell all my friends and colleagues not to work with them again. Word spreads quickly, and factions start to develop; we dig in and don’t cooperate with people or groups we don’t respect.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly legitimate to cut off relationships. You don’t, for example, want to keep working with someone who is stealing from you. In the context of community development, however, holding grudges does not pay off. If you’re serious about getting things done in your community, you can’t let the past get in your way.

Here at the Community Service Center, we’ve been experimenting with the Strategic Doing framework as a way to move community conversations beyond the usual sticking points of tense relationships and power struggles. It is never easy to change the direction and mood of a community conversation, but here’s something we’ve tried that you might be interested in bringing to your own community work: The Trust Agreement.

The Trust Agreement is simple, but powerful:

We believe in behaving in ways that build trust and mutual respect. That means:

  • Leave your ego at the door.
  • The past is the past.
  • Treat others with the respect you hope to receive in return.
  • We are a coalition of the willing…
  • …ALWAYS focus on the positive. We’re here to talk about what we CAN do, not what we can’t.

When you’re coming in to a particularly difficult meeting where you know egos and historical grudges might be at play, consider beginning your discussion by laying out these concepts. Then courteously yet firmly let meeting participants know that if they can’t embrace the Trust Agreement, this meeting probably isn’t for them.

What the CSC means to me

By Corum Ketchum

The Community Service Center was my window to the outside world during my undergraduate career. I began my time with the CSC taking a risk: enrolling in an unknown, unverified course, Real World Eugene, that had the audacity to trust undergrads with the responsibility of doing “real” work. I was rewarded for my gambit with some of the most meaningful opportunities I have had in my time at the University of Oregon.

The CSC shows not tells. So much of the college experience is purely academic; high ideas that are never applied. My work in the CSC’s Real World Eugene and Community Planning Workshop gave me an outlet to test my mettle, a platform to use my education to make a difference. I was taught best practices and new ways of approaching problems. I was emboldened to create change beyond the university bubble.

To me, the CSC embodies trust and hope. It engages young minds with the nitty-gritty problems that Oregon faces daily, knowing that the passion and drive of its pupils can propel our community into a better tomorrow.  More importantly, it enables its students to do work that stands up on its own, beyond the classroom. I would not have the confidence and skills that I have today without the CSC.

Thank you, CSC, I would not be who I am without the help of all the great people that believed in me.

-Corum Ketchum

Corum graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management.