… “I think it’s a better world when we know our neighbors,” says Michael Wood-Lewis, the founder of Front Porch Forum. “I think that’s changed in the last couple generations.”
Wood-Lewis aims to get back to that tradition with a very contemporary tool. He’s the founder of Front Porch Forum – a sort-of digital bulletin board that brings people together in a particular town or neighborhood.
Wood-Lewis talks about his business with a certain passion. And at 46, he still carries the boyhood idealism that he carried years earlier, delivering newspapers in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“I had a paper route as a kid,” Wood-Lewis recalls. “I knew everybody up and down the street. We all went to the same school. It was a different kind of world. Now it’s hard to know your neighbors. And Front Porch Forum helps people connect in that way.”
Here’s how it works: only people who live in your neighborhood can read or post comments on Front Porch Forum. It’s free, and individuals use it to announce yard sales or declare a lost pet; to exchange political views or just share gossip.
Michael Wood-Lewis says in a small, rural town like Plainfield, one online forum is enough. But in a larger city like Burlington, he says “it would be a dozen or two dozen neighborhood forums.”…
Since Wood-Lewis and his wife founded Front Porch Forum six years ago it has spread quickly – to 80 towns and more than 40,000 households. So far, five cities and towns have agreed to pay for the service, including Vermont’s second largest town…
Back at the bakery in Burlington, Michael Wood-Lewis maintains that Front Porch Forum is one of the most effective ways town officials can communicate with Front Porch Forum and they say, ‘Oh, I don’t pay attention to local news, but I do care what happens up and down my street.’”