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Category Archives: Citizen Journalism

How did Fisher get to be called a cat?

The members of FPF‘s Calais neighborhood have been having lively discussions about this creature found in Vermont’s woods!

Conversation began with this simple post alerting neighbors:
A fisher cat has returned and has been seen behind my small pond down the hill from the closed road in North Calais.”  • Reid

Followed by a flurry of topics related to the “Fisher Cat”: 
“”fisher cats” is a common, but incorrect, misnomer. The fisher is a fairly large member of the weasel family, and bears no relationship whatsoever to cats…” • Warner

“I was interested in why they have been mistakenly called cats. Are there physical similarities? Are the sounds similar? Perhaps the use got transferred to large feral cats….Just wondered..” • Mary

“With all the emphasis on “cat”..my question now is — Why fisher…? Do they fish?” • Heather

“My first thought upon seeing yet more posts about fishers was, “Oh, no!” but I found myself laughing out loud…I think I will name the next cat that comes into my life “Fisher” as in “Fisher (the) Cat…” • Craig

Nothing like lively conversation on Front Porch Forum to connect us with our neighbors!


Attempted apiary break-in

“The suspect was large and brown, with a big nose and quite unkept fingernails. A similar break-in was reported 1/4 mile away at a neighbor’s trash can. The suspect’s given name is believed to be Ursus, but uses many aliases including: “Baloo”, “Paddington”, “Smokey”, and”Yogi.” It is believed that the famous, “Poo” of the Hundred Acre Wood is also the same individual, or may be a cousin. Suspect is not believed to be armed, although citizens should consider the suspect to be potentially dangerous in certain circumstances and take appropriate precaution in the event of an encounter. Citizens should be advised that re-currant attacks are possible, even probable, and should take appropriate steps to protect valuable garbage, honey, and any other potential targets. Happily, appropriate safeguards were followed at the apiary for such an event and the perpetrator was unable to access the valuable honey stores.”   • Steven in Middlesex

Have you had bear sightings in your neighborhood? Let you neighbors know by posting on FPF!


Local photographer, Dan Higgins, captures Winooski FPF story

Dan hosted a FPF Winooski Photo exhibit for us a number of years ago. We’re delighted to see him at work again highlighting conversations from Front Porch Forum members!


Knife Assault on Burlington Bike Path

“On April 27, my 13-year-old was attacked just before 6 p.m. by a man with a folding pocketknife on the bike path near the train trestle between North Beach and Leddy Park. The man demanded my son hand over his bike and his wallet. Although my son was fortunate enough to get away with both his bike and his wallet, the man slashed him with the knife on his face and his shoulder. The cuts were superficial, but the whole event was incredibly frightening. Please take care on the bike path!”
• Lori, a Burlington South End neighborhood Front Porch Forum

UPDATE:  “I’ve received several requests for a description of the man who assaulted my son on the bike path on Thursday, April 27. My son is still in shock and cannot recall all that happened, but here are the details he remembers about the man:  White male, mid- to late twenties, approximately 5′ 7″ tall, average build, was wearing a very nice Nike zip-front black hoodie with the hood up and navy workout pants, and had two rings on his right hand—one on the pointer finger and one on his middle finger. The man first slashed my son while the knife was in his right hand, but then transferred the knife to his left hand before slashing my son the second time.”




Vermonters appreciate updates from their elected representatives

“I want to express my appreciation to Rep. Robin Chestnut-Tangerman for posting legislative updates on Front Porch Forum, and for his obvious commitment to his work on our behalf. It also seems clear that you (Robin) really enjoy what you are doing and your passion shows. I feel well represented by you, and thank you for keeping us all informed.”
• Paul & Margaret, Tinmouth FPF


Click local! When will “local first” arrive on digital shores?

I couldn’t agree more with former Vermonter, Dan Gillmor’s recent piece…

Journalists: Stop complaining about Facebook, and do something about it

Dan focuses on Facebook’s growing dominance as a news distributor…

How should we respond? From my perspective, two primary schools of thought have emerged. One is to embrace that dominance, albeit with some unease, and fully participate in Facebook’s ecosystem. Another is to persuade Facebook to take seriously its growing responsibility to help get quality journalism in front of as many people as possible.

Both of those approaches assume that Facebook is too big, too powerful to resist—that we have no alternative but to capitulate to its dominance. But if that is true, the consequences will be disastrous. We will be living in the ecosystem of a company that has repeatedly demonstrated its untrustworthiness, an enterprise that would become the primary newsstand for journalism and would be free to pick the winners via special deals with media people and tweaks of its opaque algorithms. If this is the future, we are truly screwed.

I say: no. Let’s not give up so easily. Instead, let’s resist—and find a way out of this trap… (click to read the full article)

And… to add to Dan’s call… let’s go beyond journalism.  Let’s click local for retail, for discussion, for classifieds, for reviews, for sports, for entertainment, for networking and more.  Many communities have local efforts underway, and they struggle to capture people’s attention as so many of us habitually scroll through our Facebook feeds, go to Amazon, Yelp, etc.  Why not try local efforts?  While the internet and mobile devices still hold the promise of decentralization of power, we now know that the digital juggernaut is also acting as a giant concentrator of wealth into a small number of pockets.  Thousands of local taxi companies replaced by Uber and Lyft.  Thousands of local bookstores replaced by Amazon.

To quote Dan one more time…

I say: no. Let’s not give up so easily. Instead, let’s resist—and find a way out of this trap.



Local TV news… fear-mongering or reporting on crime? (Burlington burglaries)

One day and 3,000 miles apart, two local TV newscasts took diametrically opposed approaches covering crime and local online forums.

KGET20160310KGET-17 in Bakersfield, CA asked multiple times in their story (Neighborhood safety apps and websites, are they actually safe?) if services such as Front Porch Forum, NextDoor, EveryBlock and AmericanTowns are safe to use.  While a local police sergeant advised caution about what a user shares — which is good, common sense, advice — his point that the Bakersfield Police Dept. has “only seen the programs used in a positive way” was buried in the closing sentence.

WPTZ20160311Meanwhile, in an unrelated story the next day in Burlington, VT (Police see city-wide spike in burglaries), WPTZ-5 reported that the local police chief had just posted on Front Porch Forum — to which more than 75% of local households subscribe — about a string of burglaries.  The Chief provided details and told his FPF readers that “the department is using plainclothes, unmarked and patrol units to track down those responsible.”

We’re pleased that law enforcement in Vermont finds value in Front Porch Forum, and that local media here mine FPF for story leads.  FPF is part of a healthy local media ecosystem and we’re glad to play our role.