Trusting & Believing

Despite our divisive times, Mainers see trust, respect and community binding us together. Each month for the past year, I sat down with Maine residents to discuss the precious commodity of trust. Here’s what I discovered.

We live in a world of doctored photos and video, misinformation and outright lies reported as fact, all coming at us faster than we can process. The result is that trust has taken a hit in American society. But what about here in the Pine Tree State?

Mainers, traditionally, are trusting folks. But we don’t live in a bubble. We may not have broadband internet through large swaths of the state, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t impacted by what is happening beyond our borders. So, are Mainers less trusting today? What does trust look like in Maine?

Last year, Pine Tree Watch launched the Maine Trust Project to learn where Mainers stand on trust. Once a month, we’ve published conversations with people from all over the state about the topic of trust.

What we’ve learned is that yes, Mainers are still trusting people, on the whole. In many places across the state, people still leave their keys in their cars and the doors to their homes unlocked. Not surprisingly, they trust those who are closest to them, but a good number of them are willing — up to a point — to trust complete strangers, too. And to give those who have broken their trust another chance.

Across the board, though, they distrust politicians and people who engage in abusive behaviors of all kinds — from discriminatory practices to bullying to plain old meanness.

Most remarkably, the people we’ve talked to have demonstrated the power of trust by publicly sharing personal stories and their deepest thoughts and feelings not knowing how they’d be received.

And they placed trust in us at Pine Tree Watch — that we would do our best to accurately represent them. As we’ve discovered over the past 15 months, it’s a humbling and profound gift to be trusted.

The Maine Trust Project will conclude at the end of 2019. Next year, we’ll be introducing some exciting new projects exploring other aspects of life and living in Maine. The Maine Trust Project won’t go away entirely, though. We’ll continue to check in with Mainers about trust periodically, especially in the months running up to the 2020 election.

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible,” said Russian playwright and writer Anton Chekhov. Thanks to all of these Mainers for making this project possible.

To view The Maine Trust Project series, click here.

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Stephanie Bouchard

Stephanie is an award-winning writer and editor based in Bath. She writes about healthcare, business, pets and Maine life and people. She has been published locally and nationally in publications such as the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Working Waterfront, Island Journal,, and Cat Fancy, Feline Wellness and MASSAGE magazines.
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