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In the classroom, Dave Trautman has a speech he likes to give his students, and it goes something like this: Society depends on trust. Without it, institutions like marriage don’t work. You can’t raise children without it, either, or pay taxes, or even get safely through a four-way stop. “Trust,” Dave says, “is underlying everything.”

And over the past few decades, the semi-retired video producer has witnessed trust as a value go through significant upheaval. Rather than sit back and let the experts do their jobs, sight unseen, he now sees everyday citizens clamouring to have more and more of a say in how their governments operate. As long-time president of the Argyll Community League, Dave walks the walk, too, having spent years advocating on behalf of the central community that he describes as “quite proudly” the smallest in the city.

When he was in the market for full-time work, Dave kept finding himself drawn to jobs that allowed him to use video technology to bring people together — whether that was helping the provincial government implement video conferencing in the mid-2000s, or working on specialty programming (including many programs in minority languages) for Shaw Cable’s community channel in the 1980s. “I’ve always been helping people,” he says. “Every one of my jobs has been a kind of facilitator for helping other people do something.”

Everyone has strong opinions on the place they live. But by stepping away from yelling through their laptops and instead taking up community engagement on a personal level, Dave sees an opportunity for his fellow Edmontonians to not just trust City policy, but actually feel like they own it. “And if they feel they own the process,” he says, “they can’t criticize it. They have to champion it. They have to pitch it to other people, and say, ‘The City didn’t do this to us. We made it happen.’”

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