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Category Archives: Updates and Admin

An opportunity to connect and share

Read your FPF by email?  Prefer the website?  Are you a mobile app aficionado?  However you connect with your neighbors online, FPF has gotten some major upgrades this year, including a new look across the board and new features to make reading and posting even easier.  Here’s how some FPF members have responded to the changes:

“The great thing about FPF is anyone is welcome to post on subjects that are important to them; for some people it’s Doggy Play Dates or Free Plants, and for others it’s Community Health Issues. The new format and bold subject field enable you to peruse the page, read the posts that interest you, and skip the ones that don’t (or maybe be exposed to a different point of view.) Thanks, FPF for the opportunity to connect and share.”  • Joseph in Waterbury Center, Vt.

 

I used the “Edit post” option for the first time just now.  It may have been there for a while but I just happily discovered it and wanted to pass along my excitement for the service Front Porch Forum is providing to our communities!”  • Elly at Lamoille Regional Solid Waste

We just moved to Vermont from California and I am looking forward to using this forum for resources!” • Holly in Williston



Keep up daily using FPF’s mobile app

Did you know FPF has a mobile app? Compose a posting, search the archive, and more… all in one place!

“Wow! Hyped about the app—keep up the incredible work, team. Love Front Porch Forum, always find what I’m looking for using it ”  • Zach in St. Albans, Vt.

“Downloaded the app instantly! I’m so happy there is an app now. Its aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and elegant in it’s simplicity – great work to all of you who developed it and my sincere gratitude!”  • Melissa in Rutland

“Get the App…best thing since sliced bread. I will now be able to keep up with it daily. Thank you FPF  • Tammy in Morrisville, Vt.

“FPF has come of age!  Love the ease of mobility when I want to check out other forums.” • Paul and Rosie in Burlington, Vt.

“Thank you!  What a delight to use!”  • Mary in Starksboro, Vt.

“Great idea about the FPF app! Just downloaded!” • Rebecca in Berlin, Vt.

“Took me about 30 seconds to upload and sign on.  Looks like a great way to get this daily information.” • Marie in Shelburne, Vt.

Ready to get the mobile app?  Find it in the Apple® and Google Play® app stores.


Front Porch Forum Expands Engineering Team

Front Porch Forum’s tech team is growing! Two more software engineers, Noah Harrison and Aaron Lipman, have joined FPF to continue upgrading and expanding our custom-built mobile, web and email platforms to better serve our social mission.

Since 2006, FPF has been helping neighbors connect and build community by hosting a statewide network of online local forums. Out of Vermont’s 260,000 households, FPF has more than 190,000 members.  As part of FPF’s 20 staff members, our software developers play a crucial role in providing high-quality service and developing relevant new features for members across all of Vermont and parts of surrounding states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Hires:  Aaron Lipman and Noah Harrison

Noah and Aaron each work closely with Lead Engineer and Tech Team Manager, Matt Barry, and tech advisor, Jan Schultz. Together they maintain and improve FPF’s unique web and mobile applications, which are used by more than half of the households in Vermont on a daily basis. Stay posted for new features and updates!

Noah, who is working with email integration and web browser technologies, says “I really enjoy the direct appeal that FPF forums have to many of my friends and neighbors.”

Noah comes to Front Porch Forum after ten years as a software developer and project manager consultant for various companies, including projects for NBCUniversal and on a 3D globe projector.  He earned a degree from Dartmouth College, having studied Classics, Religion, and Computer Science.

On his new role, Aaron remarks “I consider myself privileged to work on a platform that helps Vermonters work together in weathering events from Hurricane Irene to the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Aaron has a background in electoral data modeling and a passion for writing software that strengthens communities. Outside of Front Porch Forum, Aaron contributes to several open source projects. When not writing code, Aaron enjoys road biking.

Front Porch Forum is an award-winning Vermont Public Benefit Corporation.  Our mission is to help neighbors connect and build community, leading to more resilient communities.  FPF hosts regional networks of online local forums where neighbors, small businesses, nonprofits and municipal officials post about a wide variety of topics.  This daily neighborly exchange leads to people feeling more invested in their communities and getting more involved.


Job Opening: FPF Online Community Manager

Front Porch Forum is hiring! We are seeking an Online Community Manager to join our team. The position is 32-40 hours/week, including weekend shifts, working from home. Help us fulfill our community-building mission.

Click for details and to apply


FPF Got a Makeover! Access your Forum three different ways

Since Front Porch Forum released the email forum redesign in June, we’ve heard lots of great feedback from members! See what some of your neighbors have to say about the new formatting:

“Way to go FPF! You are a star in our communities. As a generator of two posts a week, I find FPF an ideal forum to keep our communities informed. You Rock!!!!” • John H. from Charlotte/Shelburne, Vt.

“The great thing about FPF is anyone is welcome to post on subjects that are important to them; for some people it’s Doggy Play Dates or Free Plants, and for others it’s Community Health Issues. The new format and bold subject field enable you to peruse the page, read the posts that interest you, and skip the ones that don’t (or maybe be exposed to a different point of view.) Thanks, FPF, for the opportunity to connect and share.” • Joseph C. from Waterbury Center, Vt.

In addition to the email forum redesign, FPF has taken more steps to make the forum cleaner and easier to use. Last year, we released a mobile app, which can be download from the Apple® and Google Play® app stores. It’s changing the way many FPF members read their forums!

“Get the App…best thing since sliced bread. I will now be able to keep up with it daily. Thank you FPF”
• Tammy W. from Morrisville, Vt.

Lastly, FPF members can access their forum by logging in from our website https://frontporchforum.com. Submit a posting, search the archives, access the business directory, and more!


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.


FPF celebrates two decades of service

Sunday, March 29, 2020, marked the 20th year of Front Porch Forum providing a means for helping neighbors connect.  It’s been our mission ever since and it’s never felt more meaningful than now.  Here’s how one of those first FPF members from Burlington’s Five Sisters neighborhood reacted:

“Look what I got in the mail today.

You opened this Front Porch Forum account 20 years ago TODAY. Happy anniversary! Thank you for being an important part of connecting neighbors and building community.

Impossible to have lived life without FPF!  I have found help with my biz… I have an annual Caroling with Carolyn on Caroline St. and people from all over the neighborhood join us each December. New wonderful friendships have developed because of FPF. We are all so lucky to have this incredible resource.”
• Carolyn in Burlington


FPF Search: A very useful function

Looking for a recommendation from an old, “lost” posting on Front Porch Forum? Members remind us that you can use our “Search” function with great success!  (Searching past posting is available both on our website and the FPF mobile app!)

“I notice a lot of requests for past postings that people are requesting. If you were to log into your Front Porch Forum Account, Click on the “Search” button and type in a key word. This will bring up all sorts of past postings that you are looking for. I’ve done this numerous times in the past.”  • Michael in Bristol

“If you are looking for old posts, you do not have to wait until you post a question and (hopefully) get an answer the next day. Just go to frontporchforum.com, sign in and hit search archives. If you just type the pertinent words in the right side of the page, it finds any posts on the subject for whatever date range you request and whichever neighborhoods you want. If you want a phrase, put quotes around the phrase or it might find anything with any of the words. It may find even some posts you did not recall seeing in the first place which could be helpful. I’ve used this more times than I can count to locate people and find recommendations.”  • Donna in Calais

“It really helps to post recommendations to the Forum as opposed to emailing the author.”   • Nancy in Fairfax

“If you need to search past issues of FPF, go to the login page and the third option on the top menu is “search archive.” It is a very useful function.”   • Laury in Montpelier