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Author Archives: Michael

Peach theft in North Bennington… brings out the best in neighbors

An FPF member’s peach tree was stripped of fruit in Bennington County recently, so she posted to her neighbors… then followed up a couple days later:

Normally I would say North Bennington is about the nicest place to live. But today I discovered that someone stole all the peaches from my one brand new peach tree. REALLY, how lousy can one be? I do not think there were enough peaches to prevent anyone from starving, but I was looking forward to a tiny peach pie after the first year of carefully tending my tree. To make it worse, the thief broke the branches of the little tree in their haste. There are enough reasons to doubt the humanity of our world these days, and this experience is just totally disheartening. Shame on you, thief.
• Christine, North Bennington

What an outpouring of caring comments following my Front Porch Forum posting! I think more people wrote me wonderful notes about my peach loss, than there were actually peaches on the tree! Some thought it was a bear, some said squirrels, some said hungry people, and some just felt badly about the whole thing. But it has all come around and I feel surrounded by very special people, so thank you all. I think I”ll plant several more trees next year, and let life happen. thanks!
• Christine, North Bennington


Expressing gratitude… make it count!

See something you really appreciate in your local community?  Post a “thank you” to your neighbors via FPF…

Jay, Anne, and all who contributed to the flowers in the villages. They are soooo nice, well kept, and send a welcoming invitation to anyone passing through, including us locals. Beautiful pots and lovely flowers all summer long. THANK YOU!
• Beth & Jerry, Cambridge FPF

I drive through Cambridge Village on my way to work and have been admiring the yellow flowers in the pots. What a lovely welcoming combination of colors. Very unique. I was trying to decide who to send a thank you to and thought perhaps the town clerk . But what a good idea to reach a lot of people here on Front Porch Forum. Thanks so much for the colorful welcome to your village.
• Charlene, Belvidere Center


Carpool forming in the Islands via FPF

Carpools can save money and time, reduce your environmental impact, and help make friendly connections in your community.  Many Vermonters use Front Porch Forum to start their carpools, like Anne below…

Just checking in to see if there’s any commuters to Plattsburgh from Alburgh or Isle La Motte area. I drove into work today and there were six Vermont cars going over the bridge to enter New York and we all got off around the same exit towards Plattsburgh. Do you want to save money and share the drive? Just let me know. It can be very flexible on days that people can’t carpool, no worries, but at least you’re saving gas and sharing the driving.
• Anne, Isle La Motte


Stolen snowblower returned thanks to FPF-reading neighbor

AUGH!! My big snapper snowblower was stolen recently from my LOCKED garage. (Thief broke in through the small side door.) If anyone saw anything, knows anything or hears anything please contact the police. I recently moved to Brattleboro – it’s an unsettling ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ to say the least. Thanks in advance for any help that comes my way…
• Susan, Brattleboro FPF

A HUGE thank you to the neighbor who saw my Front Porch Forum posting over my stolen snowblower, took a walk, saw my snowblower in the woods and called the police. I just got it back this morning! I can’t tell you how grateful I am. The police said they hardly ever see anyone get their property back, so I know how lucky I am. A very heartfelt THANK YOU. I’ll be going out to buy a lottery ticket.
• Susan, Brattleboro FPF


59th on the wait list? Ask neighbors instead!

Looking for a hard-to-find item?  Use your local FPF to ask your neighbors.  Cathy is glad she did!

Hi Neighbors – I am looking for the Book “Where the Crawdads Sing.” I hear it’s great! I have it on hold at our local library, but I’m 59 on the list. Thanks!
• Cathy, Underhill FPF

Hi Neighbors and friends! Woohoo! I just received a copy of the book that I’ve been looking for. Thanks you all for your time and trouble. I love Front Porch Forum!
• Cathy, Underhill FPF


Vermont Country Stores Reach Customers via Front Porch Forum

From Anne Wallace Allen in VTDigger yesterday…

Jack Garvin, longtime manager of the Warren Store in the Mad River Valley, which sells gifts, housewares, craft beer and other items, said that like every store, his has a group of regulars who meet every morning for coffee. Apart from participating in a huge range of events, Garvin finds it helpful to advertise on Front Porch Forum (FPF), the online bulletin board.

“Regardless of how loyal your customers are — and they love the idea of having a country store in their town — when it comes to bottom line and looking at your wallet and looking at your disposable income, they’ll by and large go to the better deals,” Garvin said. But he added he can see through FPF analytics that his ads reach people outside the Mad River Valley.

“We don’t know how that translates into people walking in the door, but people are paying attention,” he said.


Fighting Online Bullying

From Micah Sifry in Civicist 1st Post today

Katy Steinmetz reports for Time magazine on how Instagram is trying to use AI to reduce how much the platform is used for cyberbullying, but as she notes, “it’s much easier to recognize when someone in a photo is not wearing pants than it is to recognize the broad array of behavior that might be considered bullying.” Oh, and the person in charge of this whole effort, Adam Mosseri, previously was in charge of the development of Facebook NewsFeed, so this should inspire confidence. (How does your AI read sarcasm, he asked.)

One problem with Steinmetz’s article is that she accepts the frame of all the blitzscaled platforms, which is that connecting the entire world online requires massively open platforms, unfortunately creating massive toxic effects. But cyberbullying isn’t, as Steinmetz writes, “a problem that crops up anywhere the people congregate online.” It’s a problem that crops up wherever a platform has been optimized for engagement over any other value, and where there is limited to no human moderation. For example, a user of Front Porch Forum in Vermont, where each instance is centered on a neighborhood of roughly 1000 households and a paid part-time moderator helps keep the conversation civil, does not experience cyberbullying, as a recent study found.