How would you rank your interest in news, by proximity? International vs. national vs. local vs. neighborhood?
“Thank you to the many neighbors who responded to my request for lilacs today. I was moved by the generosity of so many, and feel blessed to live in such a wonderful community. I’m so grateful for Front Porch Forum as well. I don’t post very often but I read daily, and it helps me connect to the people and issues in our community. FPF serves as a wonderful reminder of the amazing thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity we are surrounded by… I started out mourning our old lilac trees and wishing we had our own trees now to supply a bouquet or two; but, honestly, I love that my daughter’s birthday celebration will be deepened not just by the beauty and fragrance of lilacs, but also by the kindness and compassion of the community she lives in. Thank you again!”
• Stephanie, Hinesburg FPF
“I just have to say how much I love FPF – and for so many reasons. It is such an amazing resource for all of us, and it really brings people together. I have met so many great folks on here, found good deals, and passed things along that I no longer needed. Its a great source of local info and updates when you feel out of the loop, and can sometimes be very inspiring.
“A year ago this week I had the honor and pleasure of being introduced to a pretty special guy through this link. Who knew looking for compost would bring such sweetness into my life… thank you Front Porch Forum.”
• Angela, Hardwick-Walden FPF
“Honestly I’m so grateful for Front Porch Forum. Even when I’m not actually using it myself or don’t have a chance to read it, it’s still somehow wonderfully settling to know my neighbors are communicating and up to the usual and unusual when I see FPF in my inbox. Thank you so much.”
• Sam, Calais FPF
“Vermont is awesome! We have this thing called Front Porch Forum – like a neighborhood Craigslist. I posted seeking to borrow a GPS unit with UK maps, and, low and behold, someone came through! Saved $150 on renting one with the car. Being able to trust a small subset of local strangers is great. Front Porch Forum has restored some of my faith in the good of humanity. Seriously.”
I couldn’t agree more with former Vermonter, Dan Gillmor’s recent piece…
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.
“Hello all – Where in the world is Linda T.? Am I dreaming that I saw something on FPF that she is doing alterations again? I was a regular customer over the years, but then she took in the shingle. Linda… are you out there? From a short guy whose pants are always too long!”
• Norm, Northfield Front Porch Forum
“Hi all, Well, with the help of many people who contacted me, I found Linda! From the very bottom of my hemmed pants, I want to thank you all for your help. Though the literal front porch, a la To Kill a Mockingbird, is no longer extant, it’s great that we can have this digital replacement. I always pull up a smile when I see people sitting and jawing on the Roxbury Country Store front porch, regardless of what the may be talking about. I hope it’s not me! Living history.”
• Norm, Northfield FPF, next day
“Owing to great success, Front Porch Forum has become my “look here first” place for finding props for various productions I’m involved with. Currently, I am producing a feature film for a Burlington area filmmaker. We are seeking a complete set of fly fishing gear (rod & reel, waders, etc.) and possibly the expertise of the owner to consult on the film. Production of this scene will happen in late May or June, likely to be a one-day shoot. We are providing credit in the film. Thanks!”
• Kenric, Montpelier FPF
“I have not posted to Front Porch Forum often, but read it every day. I had occasion to both receive and give something away. I met 2 of the nicest families and feel like I expanded my community. It was a great experience knowing someone was willing to share and also to be able to share items I could no longer use. Thank you for this opportunity.”
• Lucy, Jericho FPF
The Rutland Herald reported recently that…
A proposed social media policy that would cover both town employees and elected officials was met with pushback last week in Rockingham, with Select Board members saying they felt the proposed policy was a threat to their First Amendment rights…
Abby Friedman, director of the municipal assistance center for the [Vermont League of Cities and Towns], said Friday that many larger towns and cities in Vermont have social media policies, but she said she didn’t know whether they had adopted the one drafted by the league.
She said Barre City, Williston and Colchester were among the larger communities that had policies.
“The policy was written back in 2010. It was before Front Porch (Forum) existed. We need to look at our policy too to see if it needs any updating,” she said, noting that a lot of towns were concerned about the social media issue.
Chris Winters, deputy director of the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, said his office so far had not given towns and town officials any official guidance on the issue.
“Eventually, this summer, we were thinking of putting together some guidance,” he said. “And give the towns some help on online and social media behavior.”
In many Vermont communities, more than half of the households participate on their local FPF. So many more residents of these Towns read comments on FPF than would ever attend selectboard meetings. If we want healthy local democracy, we should update state and local policies to encourage participation… not the opposite.
One correction… FPF has been serving Vermont Towns since 2006, and we’ve had public officials participating during each of the past ten years.
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