For nearly 20 years, the Orton Family Foundation has successfully helped people in small cities and towns navigate change in a way that honors their connection to community. Orton’s track record of using technology and process to yield strong place-centric results is truly impressive.
FPF member and University of Vermont dean Susan Comerford is quoted in that same article. She says, “Front Porch Forum is a post-modern return to citizen democracy…(it) may well be the most important advance in community development strategies in decades.” She might be right.
But the coolest thing about FPF in my book is that it upends the assumed role of the Internet in our lives. It asserts that our online lives don’t have to be distinct from our offline lives—that they can merge in healthy, useful, positive, reciprocal ways. And even better than that…Front Porch Forum encourages us to reconnect with each other in person, tête-à-tête, to have conversations and shake hands and share babysitters and roto-tillers and generally help each other out. It pulls us out of our digital isolation and pushes us back into our front yards and onto the street, out to the park or the playground or the farmer’s market or the local garage to see what’s going on, to remember who we are, and even who we want to be, as parents and friends and citizens. It helps us be neighbors.