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Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

How many neighbors do you know?

I’ve talked with hundreds of people in casual conversation about Front Porch Forum over the past many months. One of the most common comments goes a little something like this…

“I’m chagrined to admit it, but out of our entire neighborhood I only know the couple next door… and I’ve lived here for TEN years!”

It’s fascinating to watch the 130 neighborhood forums that we’re hosting across metro-Burlington… urban vs. suburban vs. rural; renter vs. owner-occupied; low vs. middle vs. high income, etc. We’re seeing successful adoption of the service across many of these different types of communities. It seems fairly universal that people want to connect with the people who live around them and attach to the neighborhood grapevine.

Kevin Harris posted the following in his blog today from the UK:

A friend was telling me today about a conversation with a neighbour, who she reckoned has lived in her street for well over ten years. The question she was asked was something like ‘have you seen so-and-so over the road? I haven’t seen her for a while.’ The lady in question had died some three years previously, unbeknown to the questioner.

For my friend, who grew up in a rural area, a bit of adjustment was necessary, because this couldn’t have happened in her village. But she lives now in a northern English city. I’m not surprised and probably most people who think about neighbourliness in contemporary society wouldn’t be surprised, which suggests that this sort of disconnection between neighbours is far from exceptional.

I don’t know how the United States and England compare along these lines, but it seems to me that this kind of thing happens in all sorts of settings in this country these days, at least here in Vermont, where many rural residents are urban/suburban transplants, not multi-generational farmers.

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Stories, Vermont


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