Designing Trust: Building Social Trust Through Urban Design
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Social trust has been weakening in the Unites States since the 1960s; inextricably tied to social capital, this decay has been lined to the parallel decline in well-being, health, safety, community participation, income equality, and governmental accountability. Causes are numerous, but one significant origin of the deleterious trend is our built environment. Reliance on automobiles, the sprawl that has spread us apart, and shrinking public space have pushed people into their homes to the detriment of the community. Ensuring low social trust causes more isolation, and the cycle spirals. Yet studies show that this isn't what we want; I believe that our urban communities can rebuild and adapt their physical forms to prompt lingering and interaction, and thereby mitigate the downward trend of trust. Here I suggest design solutions that can, at a large or small scale, begin this change.