09Social CapitalGreater Fayetteville United, a local nonprofit group, wanted to know how people are giving and volunteering in faith-based organizations, politics and national affairs, and how they are participating in civic groups. The group wanted to know if residents trust each other. The agency commissioned a survey to measure trust, communication, interest and engagement in various areas. The idea was to determine the level of social capital in the community.

Darl Champion, president of Greater Fayetteville United, disclosed results of the survey to group leaders last week.

Most Cumberland County residents have a positive perception of law enforcement. They have a less favorable perception of streets and roads, public health and mental health services and the availability of affordable housing.

And most people don’t believe all of Cumberland County schools have the same resources available to them. As for trustworthiness, the survey of the more than 600 people who responded indicated it is a matter of community engagement. “One of the key factors is the trust people have in each other,” Champion said.

He noted a remarkable outcome was the relationship of trustworthiness to religious involvement and community engagement. “The most engaged residents are more trusting in general and more trusting of people of other races and ethnicities,” he said. The survey was mailed, emailed and phoned to randomly selected households in Cumberland County by market research firm ETC Institute, which conducted the poll. It has a +/- error rate of 3.9 percent. Champion said that where social capital is low, involved community members will look at how to build relationships and trust. That will begin at a community forum on Sept. 19 at Fayetteville State University’s Shaw Auditorium.

Officials consider it important that they delve into the details of the survey. For instance, daily work schedules, lack of information and inadequate financial resources were cited as obstacles or barriers making it difficult for respondents to be more involved in their community. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they have some obstacle that makes it difficult for them to be engaged. “An objective of the public forum next month is to raise the level of trust of residents have in each other and government in hopes of improving the quality of life for everyone,” Champion said.

Interestingly, one’s level of trust in his or her community members has little to do with that person’s happiness. One of the questions making this survey unique was the question, “All things considered, how happy would you say you are?” Seventy-two percent said they were happy or very happy.

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