Logo

Category Archives: FPF Milestone

Spring refresh: FPF’s Email Forum redesign

Change is afoot. Front Porch Forum is glad to present a new and improved Email Forum design today.

The daily FPF Email Forum has a new look.  At the same time, we’re keeping all the content and functionality that members have come to appreciate in place and easy to use.

This redesign is one step in a series of upgrades that FPF is making to deliver the highest quality service to our members. The new, simplified layout of the Email Forum is designed to make postings shine. We’ve also made it easier to compose postings, search the posting archive and more!

Other recent steps we’ve taken to improve our service:

  • Launched a mobile app, making FPF easier to read from a smartphone
  • Expanded our service to parts of upstate New York
  • Became a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation
  • Celebrated our 180,000th member (and counting!)
  • Continuing to grow our in-house team of software engineers
  • Serving as essential civic infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis

Already we’ve seen how these milestones and changes have helped us to fulfill our mission across the state in Vermont and in growing upstate New York forums. As the weeks go on, we look forward to sharing news on the additional updates and new features we’ll be rolling out to better serve you and our communities.  Next up… redesign of our website, including the posting archive and Web Forum.

Stay tuned for details about these and other exciting new features and updates. We eager to share our progress!

For more information on FPF’s growth and community impact over recent years, check out the following pieces:


FPF’s Response to the Coronavirus Crisis

Here’s an update on FPF’s situation as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold for all of us.  The big picture:  

  1. FPF usage is up across the state
  2. Our team is solid and working hard
  3. We’ve stabilized our short-term finances
  4. We are innovating on many fronts to strengthen local communities

FPF usage is up across the state.  Vermonters are making more use of FPF during the pandemic than ever before.   Posting volume is up 42% and new-member sign-ups are up 83% compared to the same period last year.  We are seeing many different ways that neighbors are using FPF for crisis response, including:

  • Neighbor helping neighbor:  Many requests for help being made and fulfilled
  • Community organizing:  People using FPF to organize mutual aid and services of all kinds
  • Information sharing:  Public officials, healthcare facilities, and others disseminating essential information
  • Staying connected:  Combating isolation during this time of social distancing

We’ve stabilized our short-term finances.  While the future remains uncertain, we now are confident that FPF will weather the crisis intact.  Steps taken include:

  • Austerity measures:  We cut and delayed spending aggressively starting March 1.
  • Sales revenue:  We’ve worked intently with our small-business advertisers to help them with their goals while staying affordable.
  • Member donations:  We’re grateful for a tremendous response to our brief request for donations from our members in late March.
  • SBA loans:  We have applied for SBA loans and are awaiting news.

Our team is solid and working hard.  In response to the health and economic crisis, we have made several changes to both our operations and our service:

  • Protecting FPF staff:  We closed our central office and switched to 100% remote work.  Additionally, we have been able to avoid layoffs and pay cuts.
  • Keeping Vermonters informed:  We created new features in our software to make it easier for our members to find coronavirus-related information.  We also removed posting limits for government officials, hospitals and social services regarding crisis-related messages.  And we are aggressively screening out misinformation related to coronavirus.
  • Facilitating neighbor-helping-neighbor:  We continually are taking steps to reach more Vermonters and to encourage mutual aid-type postings.  We also are in conversation with groups across the state that are working to increase volunteer efforts.
  • Helping small businesses and nonprofits:  We dropped our advertising prices by 38% across the board.  We removed monthly posting limits for any messages related to the crisis, including changes to business hours, delivery services, etc.  We are promoting “buy local” to our 180,000 members.
  • Building social capital and community resiliency:  We built a new feature to frequently promote examples of neighbor connection to all our members during this time of social isolation.

We are innovating on many fronts.  Looking forward past the crisis-response stage to the recovery phase, FPF will focus on making Vermont communities ever more resilient by:

  • Building social capital among neighbors:  Helping neighbors connect and build community will remain the heart of FPF’s work.
  • Strengthening local economies:  We will support the 10,000 small businesses that participate on FPF by enhancing their connection with customers.
  • Supporting local social safety nets:  We will continue to work with grassroots mutual-aid efforts, nonprofits, and government agencies to strengthen supports in every community across the state.
  • Enhancing civic engagement and local democracy:  We are developing additional ways for Vermonters to become more involved in the civic life of their local communities.  We are also exploring options for giving public officials new tools to engage with neighbors post-crisis.
  • Elevating local journalism:  We will expand our efforts with local news publishers to bring their work to a larger audience and enhance their viability.
  • Strengthening FPF:  We aim to make FPF stronger as we move forward through growth, product innovation, tech resiliency enhancements, creative partnerships, and more.

As a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation, FPF’s goal is to help Vermonters stay connected and build community throughout this crisis and beyond.  We welcome feedback and ideas about how FPF can be of service in this time of need.



Is FPF lost in your inbox? Try our NEW Mobile App!

Exciting news… you can now use FPF’s new mobile app to connect with your neighbors. The app makes it easy and quick to keep up on community goings-on, post to your neighbors, and more.

  • Stay logged in – no more trying to remember your password
  • Easy to view multiple days, see neighboring forums, and search past postings
  • Post to your FPF on the go
  • Get notified the moment a new issue is available – be first in line for that free toboggan!

Download FPF’s new mobile app from the Apple® and Google Play® app stores today.

P.S.  Of course, you’re still welcome to access your local FPF via email or our website too!


“Go West, Young Company: Front Porch Forum Expands Into New York State”

Front Porch Forum has made its first significant out-of-state expansion and is now serving parts of New York, where about 1,500 members have joined so far.

“Now the free, hyperlocal social network has 170,000 members around Vermont and is striking into new territory: upstate New York. In June, the company launched its first major expansion outside of the Green Mountain State, into New York’s Washington County, a rural stretch that borders Vermont in the Slate Valley; and Warren County, which contains Glens Falls. ”

Read the full story by Molly Walsh of Seven Days here.


Front Porch Forum is expanding to Upstate New York!

Residents in Warren and Washington counties, NY, will now have access to their own FPF!  If you live, work, or know anyone in the greater Glens Falls/Lake George area, across the line from Bennington and Rutland counties — ask them to sign up at FrontPorchForum.com and help spread the word!

FPF‘s mission is to help neighbors connect and build community.  Our free community e-newsletters go out daily with postings from neighbors, community organizations, and local businesses about everything from lost dogs to plumber recommendations to upcoming community events.  Sign up today, and join the conversation!


Documentary about FPF Spreading Interest Internationally

Canadian filmmaker Peter Strauss’ new documentary film about FPF, “The Story of Vermont’s Quiet Digital Revolution,” has garnered international interest. After numerous screenings around the state and features in International film festivals, more and more folks outside of Vermont are eager to see just how FPF works.

“The film on FPF that’s in Middlebury on Tuesday must be good. Last fall I met someone in Nova Scotia who had just seen it at the Halifax Film Festival. As soon as she heard I was from Vermont she wanted to know if I was on it, asked a lot of questions, and had a good time looking through the posts on my phone.” • Polly D., New Haven, Vt.

Have you had friends, family, or new acquaintances ask to take a peek at your home forum? FPF is currently available in Vermont and Washington County, NY. Folks can learn more about FPF by watching the documentary at one of our statewide screenings or on Vermont PBS.


The secret? Staying local

We’re seeing an outpouring of interest in Front Porch Forum in light of the recently published article on the Verge!

Andrew Liptak, author of the Verge article How a Vermont social network became a model for online communities,” writes “Vermont’s Front Porch Forum is a good example of how to create a positive, online community – staying local.” 

Creator of Ruby on Rails and founder/CTO at Basecamp, David Hanemeier Hanson, saw the article and tweeted on his feed.  Then Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter and Square, retweeted it.  Clearly the work we’re doing is being recognized!  Thanks @dhh, @jack and the many others who have shared this article.

“Front Porch Forum isn’t designed as a virtual replacement for one’s real-world neighborhood — it’s meant to facilitate those everyday, in-person connections that form the basis of a community.”


The unseen value of being a good neighbor

Our very own co-founder, Michael Wood-Lewis shares the FPF story at TEDx Stowe. “A dozen speakers told stories about the Green Mountain State, stories that, taken individually, stood solid on their own merits, but when combined into an entire evening, became a sort of warm, fuzzy, flannelly fabric.” – Tommy Gardner of the Stowe Reporter


FPF Tech Team Expands

Since 2006, Front Porch Forum has been helping neighbors connect and build community by hosting a statewide network of online local forums. Our strong tech team plays a crucial role in this work and we’re happy to announce the addition of our new in-house software engineer – Matt Barry!

Matt works closely with longtime CTO, Jan Schultz, and Toronto-based tech firm The Working Group. Together they maintain and improve FPF’s unique web application, which is used by half of the households in Vermont on a daily basis. Stay posted for new features and updates!

Matt looks forward to his new role and remarks “I really enjoy working on a special product that has a measurable positive impact, not only in the community I live in, but also across the state. I think FPF has some unique and interesting technical challenges due to the inherently geographic nature of the service.”