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Monthly Archives: February 2009

NY Times moving into Neighborhood Blogs

Looks like the New York Times is moving into the neighborhood-online world, according to this post

The New York Times (NYT) will experiment with hyperlocal blogs, starting with two next Monday, Brownstoner reports. Each site will be led by a NYT journalist, but the paper will also use free neighborhood contributors and will work with CUNY journalism students…

The Times will effectively be competing with a slew of neighborhood blogs, aggregators like Outside.in, and potentially even Google (GOOG) ad boss Tim Armstong’s new investment, “Patch,” which also has a beta site in… South Orange, N.J.

So, Front Porch Forum welcomes the Grey Lady into our online space!


Connecting local candidates and voters

With each passing election, candidates for local and state-level office use Front Porch Forum more and more.  We’ve been evolving our policy on this, centered on serving our subscribers’ interest and not giving incumbents or any other class an unfair advantage.

Many candidates are taking advantage of our posting policy leading up to the March 3 Town Meeting Day.  Here’s a nice thank-you note from Amy Booher, who is running for City Council in Winooski…

Thank you so much for all that Front Porch Forum does, not just allowing local candidates a voice, but for all the online neighborhood forums. It is a wonderful service.


Neighborhood Night of Success

Burlington is bursting with civic-minded people who act on their convictions… from shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk to taking on drug dealing.  The City throws a great annual party — Neighborhood Night of Success — to celebrate people and projects, share a meal and music, and mingle.  I recommend attending… March 25, 2009.  Also, Ita Meno is looking for nominations!

To show how long we’ve been at this… Front Porch Forum was recognized at the very first NNS in 2001 and then again in 2007.

Ita, the key organizer, invited me on to her talk show to chat about it.

P.S. Ita is leaving her position with CEDO, so the NPAs won’t have her as a resource any longer… a real loss! Best wishes to her in her new position and I hope CEDO hires well when finding her replacement!


Elated in Starksboro!

We’re thrilled with our recent expansion into Starksboro, VT.  This is Front Porch Forum‘s first step outside of our Chittenden County pilot… albeit a small step.  Apparently, we’re not the only ones excited… 50 households signed up in the first week (7% of the town), despite no real marketing effort.  And here’s a lovely comment from one happy new subscriber…

I just signed up and can’t wait to start using Front Porch Forum.  Some friends in Burlington have it and LOVE it. I think this will be an incredible asset for our community.  Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.  Yahoo!

Elated in Starksboro.


Using FPF to clean up stink

We’ve seen time and again that one or two citizens can’t get much action out of City Hall.  But put 20 or 200 neighbors together behind an issue, and voilá.

Here’s a posting on FPF yesterday from Burlington City Councilor Russ Ellis…

A few days ago, Christy Lorraine called our attention to the problem of sewage backup in the Staniford and Western Avenue neighborhoods with a note in the Front Porch Forum. I exchanged several e-mails with Steve Goodkind at the Department of Public Works about the situation. You will be interested in his positive response which follows:

“Russ – I share your concern that cleaning alone might not necessarily be the whole answer. I have not gotten the records yet, but I have already asked staff to pull what we have to see if there is any pattern to the problem. It may turn out that the problem is less with the line on Western Ave and more with the line it feeds into on Staniford. We will look at the entire system in that area and see if we can solve this. Please feel free to pass this on to any of the neighbors you are in contact with.”

My hope is that this terrible situation in your neighborhood can be corrected.


Make your neighborhood forum sizzle

People ask why some FPF neighborhood forums are more vibrant than others.  Here’s one answer…

Greetings neighbors!  When my husband and I moved into the neighborhood in May last year, we immediately signed up for Front Porch Forum. Our previous neighborhood forum in South Burlington exhibited quite a bit of friendly action; everything ranging from seniors who needed help shoveling driveways, teens looking for babysitting jobs, discussions of speed bumps, homeschooling opportunities, and even couches for sale. I think the same opportunity exists for the River Cove forum and I would welcome more action on the forum.

So I recently signed up to be a volunteer. I would like to get more people signed up in the area, and will probably be delivering flyers to mailboxes soon. I will also be checking out posts on the volunteers forum (this transcends the bounds of the neighborhood and even the town) to share things that I think may interest our neighborhood, in a manner that is hopefully helpful without being burdensome on your email inbox.

I welcome any assistance and would love to hear from others, especially if you’d be interested in joining me to get the word out about how to sign up for Front Porch Forum.

Cheers for now!


Thieves target four-year-old

So much positive neighbor-helping-neighbor stuff goes on through Front Porch Forum.  This posting today on the FPF ONE West Neighborhood Forum was hard to read…

We discovered yesterday that our storage space at the old April Cornell building on the corner of North Ave and Berry St. was ransacked and things were stolen.  Included in the missing items are a very large storage container of K’nex (my son’s birthday present), other kids games – also being stored for future presents, my kids 3-4 year old spring/summer clothing, my snowboard helmet, 2 sleeping bags and a tent.  In addition to the theft, dozens of vinyl records and CD’s were broken, as well as some glass jars and ceramic figures.  If you have any information regarding this, please contact the BPD.  And if you have any 4 year old boys clothing to donate to us, that would be appreciated.

I hope the neighbors rally around this family.


Local online is about local offline

From Greg Sterling today…

Here’s a general article on the local market from Business Week. Many people have seen it and emailed me about it.

It bothers me because it’s pretty superficial…

Here’s the reality, which BW either doesn’t fully “get” or seem to want to explore in sufficient depth:

  • Local is about offline — money spent in physical places.
  • E-commerce is <4% of retail; 95%+ percent of product purchases happen offline. Increasingly those purchases start online.
  • 99%+ of service business transactions happen offline/locally (yet online is the place where more and more people go to find service businesses).
  • People may communicate via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to others around the globe but they live in physical places and when they travel they’re also in physical places, where they stay, eat, shop.
  • SMB advertiser acquisition is hard, yes — no dispute there (see the last two years of blog posts)
  • The central barrier to more geotargeted and local advertising by nationals has been the challenges of offline tracking in any given campaign

FPF saving people $200/month?!?!

People in Huntington know how to get organized!  A person there posted on Front Porch Forum a question about propane prices… the heating fuel choice of many.  Well, one thing led to another — research, discussion, wheeling and dealing — and voila!  From Linda tonight…

The day I talked to Tina at Suburban she was calling this the Front Porch Forum Group Buy. She had already talked to 24 people from Huntington. This change is going to save us over $200 a month (!) in the Winter season. Shows you the power of communicating with your neighbors. We’re lucky to have FPF as a resource. Thank you to everyone who chimed in and made calls on this subject. If you think you’re paying too much for fuel, you probably are & I recommend the switch.


FreeCycle Rolls its Own

Looks like FreeCycle has built its own software after many years operating through Yahoo Groups.  Check out this international web service at My Free Cycle.