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.