Maine Trust Project: Michael Burman, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Neuroscientist Michael Burman spends a lot of his time as an associate professor of psychology at the University of New England in Biddeford
teaching his students that their sensory experiences are not trustworthy.
Trust is fundamental to human functioning and survival, but if we can’t trust our brains to perceive what’s real then how does trust develop? How do we – our brains – even form trust?
There isn’t any particular part of our brain – no specific structure – that we can point to as the location where we form trust, Mike says, rather, many brain systems are involved in what we generally call “trust.”
Maine Trust Project: Russ Murley, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Lack of trust in yourself can really do a number on you, says Russ Murley, a meteorologist who co-owns his own forecasting business and who Mainers have seen and heard on local radio and TV broadcasts. When he is doing his job, even when he's in front of a national TV audience, he has an enormous amount of confidence in himself. But, he isn’t always so trusting of himself. “I think for me – for any individual – learning to trust yourself is a constant work in progress.”
Building trust with yourself, he said, takes effort, time and thoughtfulness, but there’s one element that is particularly important: verbalizing to yourself that you can trust yourself, he said. “Tell yourself you’ve got this. That’s how you build it. I’ve learned in my life negative self-talk can kill you.”
Maine Trust Project: Sheri Oldham, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
The trust that happens for hunters out in Maine’s landscape is not easy to verbalize, says long-time outdoorswoman Sheri Oldham. “To explain to people who have not had those experiences is difficult,” she said. There’s the trust the hunters need to have in themselves: in their skills and experience, to keep themselves and others safe, and to treat animals and their environment respectfully.
There’s a certain amount of distrust, too, she said, that can help you keep yourself safe. “You need to be aware of your surroundings when you’re doing these things, because someone else in the woods has a high-powered rifle, and I’ve had circumstances where I’ve seen people acting in an unsafe manner in the woods,” she said.
And then there’s the human-animal bond. Not the relationship between hunter and hunted, but the trusting relationship between hunters and their hunting dogs.
Maine Trust Project: Inna Bezborodko, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
The child of an "enemy of the people" in the former USSR, Inna Bezborodko, a semi-retired psychologist, knows how difficult it is to learn to trust and how valuable trust is. After witnessing and living the brutality of the Soviet government, she found refuge in Maine, where generous and caring Mainers helped her to learn how to trust.
Maine Trust Project: Jean Vermette, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
When Jean Vermette told her family that she felt more female than male and she was going to explore what that meant for her, she did so in a letter. She didn’t want to put them on the spot by telling them in person. She wanted them to have the time and space to think about it before talking with her.
“That’s the big fear for everybody. This is your family. You’re never sure. My parents had gone through a lot with six kids. They always expressedtheir love and always expressed their acceptance of us. But you always wonder: Is this going to be the one thing that’s too much? So that held me back for a while.” But, when her gender reassignment surgery was done, she felt instantaneously complete.
Maine Trust Project: Dana Chandler, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
As the director of six funeral homes in western and central Maine, Dana Chandler sees people during some of the most emotional times of their lives. The death of a loved one is an incredibly vulnerable time, and he understands how important it is that these hurting people can lean on him and trust him to take the utmost care of the deceased, their reeling family, and family secrets. “When they come in, if they’re upset, we hear a lot of the family history,” he said. “We hear things that you can’t discuss anywhere.”
When families unload decades of family secrets on him, they are placing a level of trust in him akin to the sacredness of the confessional. That is a responsibility he feels deeply, but one he shoulders with ease. It is, after all, practically in his DNA.
Maine Trust Project: Jane Ogembo, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
When Jane Ogembo was about 20 years old and living in her native country of Kenya, most of her friends were getting married. But not Jane. She had her heart set on a different path: college in the United States. “I was adventurous,” she said. “I wanted to see the world.”
Today, she is the only dentist at St. Croix Regional Family Health Center in Princeton, a rural community at the U.S. border with Canada in northeastern Maine. Trust, she said, is key to becoming part of a community where she looks and sounds quite different from other residents.
Maine Trust Project: Kathleen Swinbourne, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
As a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher, Kathleen Swinbourne knows that yoga is so much more than just poses. It’s a practice of trust, a lifelong process of learning to meet yourself where you are without judgment.
But since she moved back to her childhood home recently, she has been struggling with trusting herself. “I keep trying to force myself out of what’s naturally happening for me,” she says. And what's naturally happening for her is a calling to continue developing her gifts as a psychic. “It scares me. How do I trust it?” she says.
So, she continues to pray and seek guidance, reminding herself what yoga continually teaches its students: meet yourself where you are and trust will come.
Maine Trust Project: Bobby Bergeron, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
The first time Bobby Bergeron went whitewater rafting, it was the first run of the season on the Dead River in The Forks. Barely out of winter, the water was running high and fast and cold.
He had a blast: “I was like, wow. This is like, really wild.”
Now a seasoned river guide, Bobby depends on trust to keep his guest paddlers and himself safe and having fun in a dynamic environment. “(Paddling guests) need to trust me,” he says. “I need to trust them.”
Maine Trust Project: Dona Emerson, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Dona Emerson picks up hitchhikers. Most people, especially women, have been schooled in the dangers of giving strangers a ride, and Dona was no exception. “My (85-year-old) mother,” she said, “would kill me if she knew how many I’ve picked up.” And yet, she still does it.
Why? Because Dona Emerson understands the importance of reaching out to people to create connections, and she values the role of trust in that endeavor.
Maine Trust Project: Deon Lyons, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Deon Lyons has cancer. It’s advanced and the outlook is anything but cheery. But he’s not letting that get him down. His attitude is not surprising given one of his favorite words is “opportunity.” “Opportunity” is a much better way of looking at what life has handed you then, say, “challenging,” which is the word most people would use to describe what he has faced over the course of his life: cancer as an infant, reconstructive surgeries as a teen, and now, cancer again.
In the face of this new fight with cancer, he is figuring out this latest “opportunity.” “No matter what you do or where you go, no matter whether it's good or bad, there's always an opportunity in there somewhere,” he says. “Sometimes it's right on the surface. Sometimes you got to go and dig it out.”
Maine Trust Project: Amanda Huotari, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
When physical comedian Amanda Huotari was about 10 years old, in her hometown of South Paris, she saw an ordinary man transform himself.
You could argue that this man – the late master mime artist Tony Montanaro – was anything but ordinary. But, alone on the stage, dressed totally in white, without props, there was nothing to suggest what was about to happen.
Before Amanda’s young and amazed eyes, and without uttering a word or sound, he morphed from human-ness to rooster-ness.
Maine Trust Project: Joe Reagan, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
To say that trust is crucial in combat situations is an understatement.
Joe Reagan was just 22 when he arrived in Afghanistan for his first tour there. He was in a place that was unlike anything he had experienced before.
Over the course of 16 months, the platoon’s casualty rate exceeded 100 percent, and every member of the platoon was awarded the Purple Heart, sometimes more than once.
Maine Trust Project: Myron Beasley, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
When Myron Beasley moved to Maine to take a position teaching African American studies and American cultural studies at Bates College in Lewiston, he was determined to reach beyond the borders of the Bates campus to make connections with people in his new community.
As someone who has lived in and traveled to many places across the globe, he knows how to create community wherever he is. Dinner parties are his go-to community-builder.
Maine Trust Project: Marie Harnois, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Four years ago – during the “coldest December ever” – Marie Harnois found herself doing something she couldn’t have imagined before: installing hoses to collect sap from sugar maple trees. She’d been looking for an opportunity to make a change, and boy, she got it.
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Joe Black is a man living his dream. With a light in his eyes, a quick smile and a sense of humor that invites you in, he stocks shelves and engages customers at Renys department store on Front Street in Bath. He’s been doing his dream job for more than 20 years and says it’s the perfect job for him. “I’m a firm believer that there are different kinds of dreams.”
Maine Trust Project: Mike Douglas, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Mike Douglas has contracts with the robins around his home. He knows that if he were to head directly toward a robin, it would call out an alarm, letting all other animals in the woods know that he was there. And then they’d all hide from him. But he doesn’t want them to hide. So he builds relationships with the robins based on mutual trust.
Maine Trust Project: Mary Betterley, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Every day, 83-year-old Mary Betterley and her border terrier Raymond, aka, The Mayor, walk down the hill from their condo in Damariscotta to Main Street. Having lived in town for 40 years, Mary is greeting or greeted all along her way by most of those who are out and about. Trust, for Mary, is a default position – she trusts unless given a reason not to.