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Category Archives: Community Building

Welcome to Vermont

From maple creemee tours to swimming holes, farmers markets to local writers, there’s plenty of hidden gems that any new Vermont resident simply must check out. One perfect example is the locally grown VPR podcast, Brave Little State; it will tell you all you need to know about making your home in the Green Mountain State! We think their tip about joining FPF is especially good 🙂


“I love my town!”

From bread fairies and neighborhood scavenger hunts, to Little Free Pantries and mutual aid networks, Front Porch Forum members have been reaching outto offer their love and support to each other.  This Valentine’s Day we share the love neighbors have for their communities.

While there were too many heart-warming postings and stories to choose from this especially difficult year, here are a few that made us feel warm and fuzzy:

“I heartily praise Northfield’s “gem of a library” and know that there are many additional people, organizations and businesses that have also done a lot to help our community through these recent months. I’d like to suggest taking some time to send a card or email, or perhaps make a phone call, to thank those who have made a real difference in your life. And, in that spirit, thanks FPF for helping me stay connected to the community while I isolate at home!”  • Sue in Northfield

“Today, I want to reach out to everyone I have had the opportunity to meet, within the Starksboro community, and to those I hope to meet in the future. I want to say how thankful I am for this community. We are a little shelter of giving and caring and reaching out. Welcome to the newer residents. I have the fortune of knowing there are folks who help, and give, and tire themselves for other needier people around them. I have the fortune that I can disagree with someone’s politics and still be grateful they are my neighbor. Take care everyone this winter season. Reach out. Extend your love and care. Ask for help. We all need to know we are not alone.”  • Carin in Starksboro

“I am so grateful for the business owners, healthcare workers, teachers, school nurses, sanitation staff, grocery store staff, and so many others who are obligated to risk their health for the sake of the community, or the sake of themselves and their family as they hold an in-person job while so many of us are struggling at home.  Sending thanks and love to the children and teens in this community, whose resilience astounds me and inspires me to keep going, keep making safe decisions to keep their schools open and their lives as close to normal as possible.” • Lauren in Waitsfield

“This is my first time in a small community and the love and support of total strangers has overwhelmed me. I don’t remember everyone’s names, but you have provided me with rides to work, tires, ironing board and iron, and the list goes on. When I post a need, I receive multiple emails. I am grateful to each and every one of you.”  • Gloria in Morrisville


Wood for Good

Front Porch Forum gives members across Vermont and parts of upstate New York and Massachusetts, a space to connect with their neighbors and communities. We see all kinds of postings, but some of our favorites are postings were people come together to help meet a need in the community.

Eric Axlerod, and FPF member from Jericho, uses his neighborhood forum to help provide firewood to neighbors in need. It started with a simple surplus of wood and has evolved into an effort to source, cut, stack, and donate cords of firewood.

Check out this excerpt from Seven Days:

“Thus far, they’ve given away 12 cords of wood. The crew is hoping to collect 20 cords to have on hand ahead of this fall. While they started collecting at their own house, they’ve also cut wood on neighbors’ properties.

The trio has dubbed the undertaking “Wood for Good,” and its mission is similar to that of organizations such as the Monkton Wood Bank in Addison County. Axelrod said he eventually wants to form a nonprofit and hopes to sign up more volunteers to help the cause. He’d consider expanding beyond Chittenden County if it takes off.”

Burlington Free Press also covered the story, sharing that many community business have pitched in to provide trees, wood-splitting and stacking equipment, and volunteers to help get firewood ready for this winter:

“Last month North Star Leasing Company in Burlington announced it was donating a portable wood conveyor to Wood for Good…

…Employees of North Star Leasing are arriving earlier to help split wood. People from the Rotary Club of Burlington and Axelrod’s men’s group have also come to help. Barrett’s Tree Services in South Burlington dropped off seven loads of trees that gave Axelrod a huge boost for 2021. Teachers Tree Service in Shelburne also donated trees.”

When people come together and give back to their community, amazing things can happen. This is a wonderful testament to how challenging times have inspired many amazing neighbors and small businesses to help support those in need of food, warmth, and support.

Read and post on FPF to brainstorm ideas for community outreach, connect with resources that may help you and your family, or organize an effort in your town!


We all have a part in local businesses success

Neighbors show their support of Vermont small businesses on FPF.

“I was on a call this week in which the somber fact of our local businesses on the brink of failure was very apparent. Many of our local sandwich shops, bars and restaurants are in dire need of support and are looking at the possibility of having to close down for good bc of the financial situation they are in. I was going to suggest we all try and support a “Take out Tuesday” (because A. Takeout sounded best with Tuesday and B. this would include all our eateries whether they were serving in their location or just doing take out), but realize many of our local spots aren’t open on Tuesdays. Therefore, I suggest we all try and go out to eat or get food to go from our local eateries that aren’t serving in house at least once a weekday when they need our support the most. Without our help, many of the local establishments that you love are not going to make it through this winter. Help out your neighbor, friend, or local business owner now, so that we may have the chance to enjoy them after this mess is over with. We all have a part in our local businesses success.

This also applies to our local independent shops as well. Please think of them with the upcoming holiday season and shop local this year!”  • Bob in Stowe

Share local dining/take-out options and gift ideas on Front Porch Forum.



An attitude of gratitude

“I am thankful to Front Porch Forum for adding GRATITUDE as a category. Perhaps we need it more now than ever. Tis’ true: “An attitude of gratitude brings amplitude.” • Lisa in East Wallingford

I Am Grateful
I am grateful to live in a neighborhood that I feel safe in for me and my children
I am grateful for all the tall trees in the neighborhood. They are beautiful and feel like protection
I’m grateful for my little property that produces veggies
I’m grateful for all the neighbors that talk kindly to my kids 🙂    • by Casey in Essex Junction, Vt.

“I am grateful for the treasure we have here…  the Bristol Trail Network. From the beginning this project has been led with integrity grit and grace. It has at times not been easy, but the results are a gift to all of us. There have been many volunteer hours from a host of volunteers that have made this possible. We live in a community where service is a part of what we do. So many organizations and individuals contribute to the vibrancy of our community.  As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, I look forward to our community coming together in unity to support each other in so many ways that we can’t even yet predict. If we care for each other, smile, give gratitude we will be stronger for it.” • Phoebe in Bristol

“Grateful to the responses of our bicycles that were collecting cobwebs in our cellar. Gone for better use now. And for the drum set collecting dust in a neighbor’s home is now going to be loved and played on by our grandson! Love FPF and our neighbors!” • Josy in Jericho

“A couple of weeks ago I’d requested the phone # for Corner of India, &, oh, did I hear from you! Not only did people respond to FPF, but I received 284 responses to my e-mail. I’ve gotten back to thank all but 68, so if you haven’t heard from me yet, I’m trying. Consider yourselves thanked here! Go, FPF, & all the helpful members!” • Debby in Shaftsbury

Share something you’re grateful for with your neighbors on FPF.


World Localization Day

June 21 is World Localization Day! This day is all about thinking globally but acting locally. Getting most of our food from local farmers, recirculating our money into the local economy as we spend on our day-to-day needs, and helping to grow meaningful employment opportunities.

It’s clear that there’s no “back to normal” So what comes next?

A new human story founded on the principles of connection and diversity is emerging. It’s called Localization.

Be part of this progressive, inspirational and life-affirming movement for change! Register to join this world-changing program of inspirational talks, interviews, films, humor and music.


Grow and Give

Front Porch Forum members are organizing gardeners to share their extra produce this summer with neighbors who are in need.

If you have a veggie garden, and as you find yourself with more produce than you can use in the coming months, I’m hoping you might donate it. Local food pantries welcome produce from home gardeners.  My plan is to harvest extra produce as I have it and take it to one of them. It doesn’t need to be a lot — every fresh little bit helps. Just grow and give.”  • Karen in East Montpelier

“We just put out a Little Free Greenhouse & Seed Library in front of our house.  If you have extra veggie starts or seeds to exchange, please consider contributing them to the greenhouse and library for others to take. There will also be free wildflower bouquets for the taking from time to time. There are some lettuce starts in the greenhouse at the moment as well. Please take whatever you need and contribute what you can.”  • Allegra in Burlington

Ready to start something similar in your town? Post on FPF!


“The Internet’s Missing Link in the Age of COVID-19”

COVID-19 is forcing everyone to adapt. An essential part of that adaptation is the use of technology to keep people connected without the face-to-face risk factors the coronavirus presents. Micah Sifry of Civic Hall observes the many challenges we all face as we navigate a global pandemic and the tech solutions that may help us move forward.

Sifry identifies Front Porch Forum as digital public infrastructure that can help communities thrive. See the excerpt below.

In all my years of reporting on how we use tech in civic life, one platform has stood out for how it has successfully fostered healthy community engagement while reaching significant scale: Vermont’s Front Porch Forum. Seventy percent of the state’s 260,000 households have an account on one of FPF’s local town or neighborhood forums, which are in every part of the rural state. Two years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released an in-depth study of FPF’s users, finding that their daily use of the site led to increased trust in their neighbors, increased interest in civic life, greater participation in local government, and increased optimism about the future. ‘Witnessing everyday acts of neighborliness is a powerful driver of both online and offline community engagement,’ the study concluded.

Last week, I checked in with its founder Michael Wood-Lewis and his chief innovation officer, Jason Van Driesche, to find out how they are weathering the current storm. After a brief dip in the site’s fortunes when the state went into lockdown in March, they were happy to report that even though no one was posting yard sales or local events, the type of information that has always been FPF’s bread-and-butter, user engagement was up. The number of net new signups per day doubled during the first weeks of the crisis, and posting is up considerably over the seasonable average, along with open rates.

Wood-Lewis and Van Driesche are also gratified to report that people are using the forum’s daily email bulletins to organize help for neighbors, share vital public health information, and fight isolation. They’ve decided to have their paid community moderators screen out misinformation about COVID, which Wood-Lewis said is ‘usually people getting stuff off of Facebook and sharing it with good intentions.’ They’re working on an array of service improvements, and also thinking hard about how to support the 10,000 local businesses, thousands of local officials and hundreds of nonprofits that use the site. ‘On a daily basis, most of the people in our state are giving us five to ten minutes of their attention,’ Wood-Lewis noted. But he and his team are frustrated that so much of FPF’s core mission, which is to bring neighbors together face-to-face, is stymied by the pandemic. ‘We know we’re successful when those real in-person things happen,’ he adds, so his team is trying to highlight local initiatives like safe scavenger hunts for kids and community claps for frontline workers.

Front Porch Forum’s model works because it keeps its forums to human size and speed, and it has paid moderators perusing every post before they reach subscribers. A typical instance has 500 to 1,000 people on it, all from the same town or neighborhood, and all verified, using their real names. Everyone sees the same content at the same time, Van Driesche pointed out; there’s no microtargeting of content. So while people still are people, and they may post things that get on their neighbors’ nerves, the general tenor of the site is ‘let’s pull together instead of knocking each other down.‘”

Read the full article here.


“Ode” to Our FPF

“I can find a house, a boat,
I can sell a fridge, a goat,
I found my super Subaru
I searched each day, and so can you!

Children grown, grandchildren too
Too much stuff, so what to do?
I’ll sell the crib, lego and bike,
Then I can buy that dress I like!

You want to share news of a bear,
A barn sale, concert, country fair
Lear how to hunt a good mushroom
Find a painter for your room

You need to get a ride to Lansing
Or new partner for some dancing
You say you need a plumber SOON
Ask “The Forum” and he’s there by noon!

I think you get the picture now
You know the “why”, find out the “how”.
And don’t forget “There’s no free lunch”,
Donate to help the Front Porch bunch!” • Alison in Charlotte, Vt.