Category Archives: Citizen Journalism
#BTV #VT - Increasingly, the answer to this question includes Front Porch Forum. Ninety Vermont towns are served by FPF and public officials, advocacy groups and voters alike use their FPF to share information, state opinions and encourage participation in local democracy. Occasionally an FPF will get heated in the days approaching Town Meeting… but that’s how community works. Ideally neighbors pull together and move the community forward after Town Meeting Day, regardless of which candidates and ballot measures prevail.
FPF is popping up in traditional media this week. Two recent front pages (one and two) of the Burlington Free Press mentioned FPF’s role in Town Meeting issues. And Seven Days quoted former City Councilor Ed Adrian today…
In a February 28 posting on Front Porch Forum, Adrian lodged five points of criticism against Bushor, including: “To the best of my knowledge, Sharon has never posted on FPF. Anything.”
Ed will be glad to know that Sharon posted a campaign-related item to her FPF today!
#VT - How fortunate we are in Bristol to have Front Porch Forum at our disposal. I certainly hope that someone is recording all these postings using some media that is not ephemeral (imagine if the Constitution had been recorded on 8 track?) as future generations may be able to use current Front Porch Forum postings the way our generations use the old Bristol Heralds- a view into a time gone by.
I was talking with a good friend the other day who had been considering starting up another newspaper that would deal with only local issues, much like the last several efforts to do the same but which all met an early demise. We don’t need another newspaper- we have Front Porch Forum which meets all those needs.
I just hope that future generations can enjoy this as much as we do and that they will be able to look back to our time and try to understand the issues that confront us in the same way that we use old publications in our quest to understand the issues of earlier times, and as George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Shared by Ted with his Bristol, Vermont, neighbors on their FPF today.
- Silvio’s Silver Lining (3:20 mark).. crime in Cambridge
- Weinberger Wants Year-Round Waterfront Action, But Some Neighbors Are Wary… Burlington politics
- UVM Sets Kill Traps for Dam-Building Beavers in Centennial Woods… wildlife controversy
And they’re not alone… ABC22/Fox44 local news covered a Burlington break-in via FPF this week, and the Burlington Free Press, VPR, WCAX, and many community newspaper frequently turn to FPF.
We love it. FPF helps local traditional media find story leads. And we help grow the audience for the stories that they report. We’ve heard many times from FPF members who rarely tuned into local news before signing up for their Front Porch Forums… and now they pay more attention to community issues. Strong and vibrant local media… it’s crucial for our democracy and we’re honored to play our role.
UPDATE: Just saw these tweets…
#BTV #VT - Posted to the Old North End Front Porch Forum in Burlington today…
Last night (Friday, 10/5) at 8:00 PM, I exited the rear of my house… and noticed the dome light on in our car. I thought my wife had accidentally left a car door ajar so I went to shut it. Upon approach, I saw a man stretched across from the driver’s side rifling through the glove box. He had no idea I was standing right there at the door he entered.
I paused, incredulous at what I was witnessing, then leaned down and said: “Did you get everything you need?” He rushed out of the car. But I: a) had the element of surprise; and b) had a very easy jump on him. When he exited, I immediately tackled him hard to the ground. He managed to stand up and I, not knowing what was coming next, grabbed his left arm behind his back and smashed him against our house then against the fence.
I let him struggle his way out to the front where I knew my neighbors would help. Sure enough, my neighbor Jim across the street came running out and together, we slammed the guy onto the ground to restrain him until police arrived. My other neighbors called the police. He was wily and strong and managed to get out of our grasp and start running west… But without his backpack which was now in my and Jim’s possession.
As I chased the guy, I heard Jim holler: “I got his knife.” That was enough for me even if I misheard Jim. I followed him from a safe distance and watched him go up the driveway… He seemed to make a quick change of clothes and was then spotted just a few doors up… walking quickly away from me. He must have jumped some fences. Again I gave chase, this time with the police dispatcher on the phone. She recommended I stop so I did with tremendous reluctance, knowing I was watching the thief get away, last seen around the corner of Elmwood and Cedar in a black t-shirt.
Instead of getting anything from our car, the police now own his backpack full of thief tools, drugs, needles and items from other cars. They also now own his bike which he left in my driveway. Police also have the flashlight he was using as well as a can of dog repellent (aka mace) that he was apparently going to use on me.
Ironically, our motion-sensing floodlight had just burned out the night before. The timing of this thief was unlikely to be coincidental. He likely trolls around at night looking for opportunities.
Description: White male, 6’1, approx. 200 pounds, 18-22 years old, short dark brown hair, unkempt inch-long facial hair (sort of curly), had on a long sleeve white pullover shirt but was removed in place of a black t-shirt underneath, loose jeans.
There is so much to say here but it’s worth just summarizing a few things:
1) In hindsight, my actions were reckless. I could have been hurt or stabbed by a dirty syringe in our struggle.
2) Even still, I’d do it again to protect my family’s – and neighborhood’s – sanctity.
3) For what it’s worth, I repeatedly told the guy to stop resisting and he would not get hurt. Hurting him was never my intention.
4) Knowing your neighbors creates powerful bonds for those unexpected times when you really need their help. Thanks neighbors!!
5) Lock car doors and homes and don’t leave valuables out. Our car was unlocked. This was a crime of opportunity. Also, quickly fix deterrents like floodlights.
6) If crooks are monitoring this forum and see my post, know this: Your bad choices will not be tolerated. We’re watching you.
Let’s hope this kid woke up today sore and with a fresh perspective on life. It’s never too late to start making positive life choices.
#VT - Front Porch Forum is choke full of unusual wildlife sightings this weekend…
- Mama bear and cubs in the South End of Burlington
- Porcupine near Five Corners in Essex Junction
- Loads of hummingbirds all over
- And turtles on the roads near Lake Iroquois, including this note just posted by Kathleen…
I moved a little turtle today, too, about the size of a baseball. She and I worked together, with the help of an envelope I had, to encourage her to move. I was surprised by the noise her feet made when she literally RAN to the side of the road. I had no idea that turtles could RUN. They can.
#BT #VT - Most Front Porch Forum postings are simple matters of locating a babysitter or lost dog, selling a bike, or hitching a ride to Boston. We get lots of bear/moose/skunk/etc. sightings too.
Increasingly people use FPF to tackle some of the tougher challenges faced by their communities… street crime, school and town budgets, disaster recovery… and currently in Burlington, illegal drug use…
Hello Neighbors – Over the last few months, everyone in our household and that of our downstairs neighbors’ (and landlord’s) had noticed certain vehicles consistently parking on the quiet side street next to our house, and just sitting there for a long time. Of course, this sort of thing makes you wary, but we had not seen or experienced anything overtly suspicious or criminal… until yesterday, when I found two used needles and bloodied alcohol swabs discarded curbside, right next to our house…
Last night, after dark, a cherry red car with a loud muffler pulled up to the same spot and sat. Our downstairs neighbor noticed this, and after a few minutes walked out to have a look/be a presence. The car quickly pulled away, turned around and took off toward North Ave. Sure enough, another pair of used needles and dirty swabs were found on the street. We called the cops, and an officer was sent over to have a look; we described the vehicle to him, and he collected one of the syringes. His idea is that people are buying on North St and then pulling back into our relatively quiet, not-much-patrolled neighborhood to shoot up.
Needless to say, this is disturbing and disheartening, and we’re hoping to help bring a stop to it ASAP. Be aware of stopped vehicles lingering at the curbside in your neighborhood, and be very careful to watch out for discarded needles, especially for the sake of children in your area (“luckily”, the needles that we have found have bright orange plastic components and are easy to spot; also, the idiot users have been thoughtful enough to cap them before dumping). Obviously, direct confrontation is not encouraged, but notice patterns and take down license plates of repeat visitors. And, of course, be very careful and wear gloves when cleaning up after these losers (the cops will come to pick them up if you’re not comfortable doing it, but they do not want them as evidence unless they are still loaded).
Be careful out there, and teach your kids the same!
After midnight last night, I observed a very large bright red light in the sky traveling north away from Smugglers’ Notch ski area. It appeared to be quite high in the sky, above the mountains and traveling slow. It was not a plane. There was no sound. I ran outside and watched as it traveled over my house. It appeared to go higher as it continued, in straight line path in the sky. I watched until it disappeared over the mountain behind us. I was hoping someone else observed this unusual phenomenon. I would also appreciate any reasonable explanation as to what this could have been.
Posted by Karen on the Cambridge Front Porch Forumtoday!
FOLLOW UP POSTINGS…
- I am very intrigued by your sighting… I’ve visited the crop circles in England and I do think that we have neighbors… Thank you for sharing your experience.
- It was most likely a Flying Sky Lantern. We have sent those into the sky many times and had neighbors comment on seeing a UFO.
- What you saw may have been a satellite. I’ve watched them in the past. Check out the web site stellarium.org for real time satellite and star locations, it’s an amazing site!
- I don’t know how bright or how fast your object was but Mars is a very bright red right now and would be about where you described it at midnight. Planets, especially Mars and Venus are often mistaken for UFOs, especially if scudding clouds give them a sense of greater movement in the sky. By the way there is a spectacular dance going on between the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter in the western sky right now during the evening and early night hours. Here’s some info.
- I live just down the road from Smuggler’s View, and although I did not see the large, bright, red light, we now live in unusual times. With last week’s unseasonable heat wave and the strange behavior of my two pups, I feel inclined to paraphrase Carl Sagan’s epitaph to astronomer Johannes Kepler: I prefer the hard truth to my dearest illusions. Go with your gut on this one.
- The UFO sighting thread included a comment by a neighbor about sending “flying sky lanterns” “into the sky many times” which were mistaken for UFOs. Please reassure me than nobody would release a balloon or other device with an open flame, combustible materials, or any other hazard that could cause a fire. We’ve just had a period of high risk of brush fires due to dry weather. I’d like to think that everyone who lives in this area is aware of the danger and would not send anything “into the sky” without considering the potential for setting fire to the woods. Probably unnecessary to point out the obvious, but the concept of a “flying sky lantern” caught my eye. Hopefully this was just a joke, a bit early for April Fools. If I saw my neighbor releasing a balloon-borne candle or such, I’d certainly have a discussion with them, but not about UFOs!
- I want to thank all of my Front Porch Forum neighbors for all of the emails and posts, in their efforts to solve my UFO mystery! I now believe it was indeed a sky lantern. After doing some research and checking out some images on Google, it seems to match what I saw. My guess is the lantern was launched at Smuggs. Looking forward to a special occasion to launch one myself some night!
#VT - I thought it was pretty neat that at 15 minutes into the Starksboro Town Meeting, Front Porch Forum had been mentioned 3 times by town officials (Town Clerk, Selectboard Chair, and I think also by the Moderator), with things like, “Watch for updates on Front Porch Forum.”
And the thing that struck me, was that it was always said like everyone would know what they were talking about. Here we are three years after start up there, and it’s a fully integrated part of the way the community interacts (and has been for some time). Pretty cool…
That note arrived today from an observer of Starksboro’s March 3rd Town Meeting… and we’re hearing the same from other towns who met prior to Tuesday’s official Town Meeting Day in Vermont.
#VT - Lots of great discussion of various online tools today at the e-Vermont workshop in Randolph. I was blown away by first-hand accounts of Moretown citizens responding to Hurricane Irene, as well as the folks of Westford self-organizing a food shelf to help neighbors in need.
Vermonters have so many digital media tools in the toolbox from which to choose. That said, I’m partial to our Front Porch Forum for many applications. Apparently Doris in Argyle, NY feels the same way (from her current posting)…
Thanks to everyone who posted or emailed info about the Pleasant Valley public hearings, which my husband will attend tonight. I was pleased to see that Front Porch Forum published the info in a timely manner.
It occurs to me that one week of following FPF has given me more positive information and ideas than several years of trying to negotiate Facebook. With Facebook I have struggled to figure out who is seeing what information and I have not gleaned much of anything from a world of “friends” except for gossip and a lot of negative interaction. So, goodbye Facebook, and hello Front Porch Forum!
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this bit about Twitter… just in fun, of course…
Update: And from Carrie in Argyle…
Doris, I agree…been thinking the same thing about getting rid of facebook. I love that the FPF news I hear is local!!! I feel so much more connected.
Ghost of Midnight is an online journal about fostering community within neighborhoods, with a special focus on Front Porch Forum (FPF). My wife, Valerie, and I founded FPF in 2006... read more
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