Logo

Monthly Archives: October 2007

Economic Development through FPF

Amy Kirschner writes in Money in the Mountains this month…

Getting to know your neighbors leads to economic opportunities…

If you’re a Burlington resident, you’ve probably heard of Front Porch Forum. The service was started in the Five Sisters neighborhood by Michael Wood-Lewis and his wife, Valerie as a way for neighbors to share news by email.

Front Porch Forum has gotten a lot of press and recognition lately as a community building tool. It’s interesting that beyond building social capital, being neighborly and coming together on community projects, members have found FPF to also be a place to be creative economically.

In the Old North End Central neighborhood, the Soup Mama, started a business delivering soup to neighbors – by bike! – and has been advertising weekly on the forum. A student has taken the fundraising-for-a-school-trip-bake-sale online by offering pumpkin pies delivered to your door the week before Thanksgiving.

Testimonials featured on the website list people who have found plumbers, bought and sold homes, and found tenants for rental properties.

Many of us have skills that we couldn’t pursue full time in the market economy but that could be used to supplement our income. People can sometimes find communities of interest online or in their area that might make a transaction possible, but Front Porch Forum has made it possible to market those skills to your geographical community.

To strengthen and diversify our local economy, there are two strategies we must pursue: creating the capital and creating the market. Front Porch Forum has filled a gap in marketing and exchanging services among neighbors while building community.


eNeighbors making progress

eNeighbors is making steady progress in its work in serving neighborhood’s online needs.

26 neighborhoods online.

2,797 registered users at 2,628 unique addresses. We now have neighborhoods in Kansas, Missouri, Florida, Virginia, California, Texas and Arizona.

With 9,745 potential addresses in the neighborhoods that have signed up so far, we are at 27% adoption rate for our entire resident base.

Congratulations eNeighbors!


DocStoc may prove useful

From TechCrunch today. This type of service could prove useful to Front Porch Forum users to share documents among neighbors.

Docstoc is designed to be a shared repository of commonly used forms and documents… Docstoc competes with Scribd… Today, Docstoc is coming out of its private beta into a public beta. Anyone can now upload and share documents. Already, there are 12,000 documents on the site. There is no limit to how many you can upload, and Docstoc accepts the following file formats: .doc, .xls, .ppt, .rft, and .pdf.


1% Rule does not apply here…

From Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is reported to have told a library group that month:

  • 50% of all Wikipedia edits are done by 0.7% of users
  • 1.8% of users have written more than 72% of all articles

If we also add evidence from Bradley Horowitz that roughly 1% of Yahoo’s user population starts a Yahoo Group, we seem to have The 1% Rule: Roughly 1% of your site visitors will create content within a democratized community.

I haven’t analyzed all of Front Porch Forum for this, but when I looked at our flagship neighborhood forum awhile ago, we saw 90% of the neighborhood subscribed and 50% had posted in the past six months. FPF’s design encourages a very high level of participation from the general public.


YourStreet Launches

YourStreet.com is launching. From TechCrunch

What do you get when you combine Google Maps with hyper-local news and comments? You get a map-based news site called YourStreet… [it] detects where you are located and serves up news stories about events that recently occurred in your city or neighborhood, as well comments from YourStreet members who live nearby.

The startup has developed an algorithm that extracts geographical information from stories, such as street names, neighborhoods, and cities. It then geo-codes the articles against a longitude and latitude database so that it can place them on a map… If he can attract enough local visitors to YourStreet, the local dry cleaner may also want to show up to advertise there. The localized ads will be simple text ads at first, but they could also eventually be push pins of a different color.

YourStreet has been self-financed so far by Nicholson to the tune of about $400,000. His last company, Netventures, was sold to CNET in 1999 for about $12 million.


Meetro Making Forum Hosting Easier?

TechCrunch reports today

We’ve been informed that Meetro – provider of a location-based instant messaging service – is working on a stealth project that aims to make forum setup, customization, and moderation as easy as blogging with Blogger.

The project, codenamed “Makaha”, has been in development since the beginning of this year. While many forums require users to find their own hosting and install software, Makaha will enable users to create and personalize forums through a point-and-click interface. Forums will have their own subdomains at the Makaha website just as blogs have their own subdomains at Blogger… Forum moderators will have full control over CSS styling (in addition to premade templates) and will benefit from an extensive community moderation system.

Even with the attractiveness of that traffic, few companies have been innovating in this space. We recently reviewed Tangler, which provides forums that function much like chat rooms by immediately displaying posts via Ajax when they are added to a discussion thread.


Pickle the Cat Reunited after Crosstown Jaunt

I’ve always wondered about those stories of pets finding their way across unfamiliar terrain to get back home.  Now we have a Front Porch Forum version.  First, Lara posted her “lost cat” announcement on her new neighborhood’s forum and got no response.  Then, she got it posted on an FPF neighborhood forum in Burlington’s South End…

I moved from Adams Street [in the south end] last month to Rose Street in the north end. Since Monday night (10/15), my cat Pickle has been missing. He’s a black and grey tiger-striped short hair. He’s long, lean, and very soft. He’s also double-pawed (he has extra toes that make it looks like he has thumbs). He may be making his way back to our old place.  Photos on MySpace and SnapFish.  Please call with ANY sightings at 802-318-6125. Thank you!

Now today we see…

The Cat Came Back!  Actually, Pickle didn’t technically come back. He went all the way to our old place on Adams Street in the south end! It took him 10 days, but the new tenant Rebecca called me this morning to say that Pickle was on her front porch. He’s healthy (not a scratch), happy, and finally home. THANK YOU to everyone who contacted me with possible Pickle sightings. We moved to ONE a month ago, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me that my new neighbors are so thoughtful. And yay Front Porch Forum!!


Special Offer on Burlington Telecom

I’m pleased to share this special offer for residents of Burlington, VT…

Sign up for Burlington Telecom service (phone, internet, cable tv) now and receive a $25 CREDIT when you mention Front Porch Forum at the time you place your order. Referral also supports your neighborhood forum. Order at 540-0007 or http://www.burlingtontelecom.net (check the Front Porch Forum box under “How did you hear about us?”).  Limited time offer: For new orders placed between 10/25/07 and 12/31/07.


Social Networking Sites Grow and Shrink

Interesting traffic numbers for social networking sites on TechCrunch today.  Lots of interesting comments.  My first take-away… loads of options for online social networking and more flooding onto the web every day.

It’s not about features, it’s about who’s already there and tone.  The internet is overflowing with social networks for (1) snarky techno-types, (2) pop-culture-obsessed kids (i.e., college age on down), and (3) career-focused climbers in a few industries.  For the rest?


Burlington Livable Community Project

This appears to be a genuinely valuable project locally here…

As the age boom impacts Burlington, can residents say with conviction “this is a great place to grow old?” The Burlington Livable Community Project is engaging residents, community organizations and the City to make changes so people of all ages can live in the setting of their choice, get around the city in a variety of ways, and engage fully in the life of our community.

AARP Vermont is the lead and lots of other entities are involved.  I heard from their early “community listening” sessions that Front Porch Forum came up from citizens multiple times as a great resource for helping seniors feel connected to their neighbors and community.