Beth’s comment to an earlier blog post here deserves to be featured… wow…
I am on the Westford Front Porch Forum and look at it as the best way to keep up with neighbors, get community information, form new community connections, and have healthy, respectful debates about local issues. In the year and a half I have been on the Forum I have found it helpful in the following ways (this is just off the top of my head):
1. Started a singing group
2.Found a new home for a friend’s dog
3. Debated the merits of town meeting vs. australian ballot
4. Debated the merits gay marriage
5. Been reminded of events at the library such as Women’s Game Night and speakers and then attended these events.
6. Started a local neighborhood watch program
7. learned about musicians coming to the town green
8. Learned what booths will be at the farmer’s market each week.
9. Joined a Westford CSA for local produce
10. Found a neighbor to help carpool to high school with our foreign exchange student.
That is just how I have personally been able to use the Forum. I also get to have an ongoing conversation about everything with my neighbors. I am not a major community organizer. I am just feeling like an active member of my community with this important tool. What is even more telling is that much of Westford does not have high speed internet access. While I know the FPF works fine on dial up, there are people who skip connecting altogether at home because they do not have a high speed option. I only see the FPF expanding as the options for connecting expand.
I talk about the forum at work (which is in Franklin County) and they are intrigued and would like FPF to expand beyond Chittenden.
It actually pains me to read that Brennan Woods is not making good use of the FPF when they have such high participation. It is an opportunity to connect that looks like it is being squandered.
And many others commented about the odd editorial in the Free Press on FPF itself (below), on Twitter, on Facebook, on Free Press online, on this blog, in letters to the editor (we’ll see if the Freeps will run any of them… not yet), and to me directly. From Patricia in Burlington’s Old North End…
I, too, thank City Councilor Marrissa Caldwell for prompt and continued attention regarding the Battery and Pearl crossing. Although I am not in Marrissa’s voting ward, she responded quickly to my first Front Porch Forum posting and continued with the second… The FPF postings also revealed that the whole design of Battery Park at its multiple points of pedestrian entry and exiting needs further attention from the city. Signs stating the Vermont law that cars must yield to pedestrians, speed bumps, and other car traffic calming initiatives were all offered by FPF readers as means to end the thruway mentality.
UPDATES: Good for the Freeps… they published two letters to the editor on Sept. 4 about this. And here’s one FPF member’s response, as posted via FPF to her neighbors…
Today’s Burlington Free Press, in Letters to the Editor, praises the Front Porch Forum for helping us to be informed in a democracy. I second this! Thank you Front Porch Forum, for helping us all, in our media-connected, busy work a day lives, for giving a sense of community.
UPDATE 2: The Free Press just published another piece about this… a My Turn by James Sullivan of Burlington.