#BTV #VT – Thanks to some observant and helpful neighbors, my adult Radio Flyer bike is back in my possession! Front Porch Forum is great!
Good news shared by Don in Burlington’s South End on his neighborhood FPF today.
#BTV #VT - We’re working hard to improve and expand Front Porch Forum in 2012-13 and we need your help to make it all happen. Please become a supporting member today and help us reach our annual goal of raising $40,000 by October 31! Contribute here:
Every year, members like you help fuel FPF so that we can continue to help neighbors connect and build community. More than 40,000 Vermont households have joined and shared hundreds of thousands of postings with their neighbors through FPF!
Whether it’s group yard sales, car break-ins, sharing perennials, flood recovery efforts, election debates, block parties, plumber recommendations, lost dogs, town notices, or other topics, our small band of committed staff work day and night to keep this all going.
If you enjoy and value Front Porch Forum, please become a supporting member today at:
Your contribution is critical to keeping FPF going strong — and will be enormously appreciated. We look forward to serving you and your neighbors in the coming year.
Your FPF team,
Michael, Nina, Linda, Lynn, Gisele, Suzie, and Jan
P.S. We also accept checks, payable to…
Front Porch Forum
PO Box 64781
Burlington, VT 05406-4781
FPF is not a charity and contributions are not tax deductible. Ad sales to Vermont businesses cover part of our expenses, and your annual supporting-member contributions help close the gap.
#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 – Donna Faser-Leary writes in the Charlotte Observer this week…
Early this summer a new resident arrived in Charlotte: a black bear. The Charlotte Front Porch Forum, an online neighborhood communication resource, has been instrumental in keeping Charlotters informed of the bear’s whereabouts and activities. What first appeared to be a chance sighting soon became a frequent occurrence from East Charlotte to West, especially around the Mt. Philo area. Reports of destroyed birdfeeders, strewn trash bags and raided compost piles have been evidence of a bear’s visit. Only one bear has been occasionally sighted, and it has not shown any aggression toward either animals or humans but has merely given a huffing sound as a warning of its presence, a normal bear response…
People need to put away birdfeeders and store trash and other bear-appealing items in lock-safe containers. Don’t leave cookout or other food supplies out in the open unattended, and lock your sheds. Prevention is key. If a bear keeps coming around, Drury suggests hanging heavy-duty balloons loaded with some cayenne (hot) pepper powder off a shed or porch overhang. The bear will pop it, and “one time is usually all it takes.” Shooting at the bear with rubber bullets, which will scare but not kill it, is also an option…
Another online resource to tap into is the Charlotte Front Porch Forum, a free neighborhood communication service open only to people in your town. To join, go to frontporchforum.com. It will help you track bear sightings, find your dog, sell your stuff, get robbery alerts and keep informed about local issues and events.
#BTV #VT - Thank you Front Porch Forum friends. After reading your posts. I started checking and found that starting yesterday someone started charging large amounts to one of my cards. I will be filing a police report as soon as I get a statement from the bank. Very scary. I think I will increase my monthly donation to FPF for performing such a vital service to the community.
That’s from Marie to her Richmond FPF today. Lots of folks there are sharing their recent stories of credit/debit card misuse and fraud in this one small Vermont town. What’s going on? Here are some of their stories…
UPDATE 2: Natural Provisions posted on the Richmond FPF today a lengthy description of all the steps it’s taken to protect its customers.
UPDATE 1: More shared among neighbors on the Richmond Front Porch Forum (1,300 FPF members out of the 1,600 households in town)…
#BTV #VT - I just wanted to thank my neighbors on Ward Street for their help in recovering our stolen canoe. Within an hour of my original Front Porch Forum post, I received several emails from folks in the neighborhood with information that helped us recover the canoe and will hopefully help us find the perpetrator. Thanks again.
That was just posted from John in Burlington’s ONE West FPF. His canoe was stolen right off the roof of his truck yesterday. Happy ending.
#BTV #VT - Good news/bad news in Burlington’s Old North End. First the bad… judging by the many recent Front Porch Forum postings, a string of yard and porch thefts is running block by block. Some of this stealing doesn’t amount to much, but other cases are hitting folks where it hurts. From Gloria…
I don’t have dogs or cats – or young kids – I live in a tiny little condo and get flowers in the Spring instead of spending money on Christmas gifts. My flowers are what I pour great love into. I love tending to them and how they make the neighborhood shine. Last night I lost six hanging baskets and a potted red phlox with a fragrance so sweet it could make you float. I had the police here this morning and the damage was so significant – financially and otherwise – I have taken some measures. Will be doing more. (We cried most of the day as it was a huge loss…)… One of the stolen hanging baskets was a rare kind – most fuschia are the “dark eyes” variety… A few days back I had Irises taken out of the ground in my front garden…
And from Gretchen…
Saturday night my husband and I were awakened at 2:30 by our dog barking. My husband ran downstairs to find our gate open and the zero gravity chair my family had gotten me for my Birthday was gone from our yard. We tried to chase down whoever was responsible (we were only minutes behind someone carrying a large chair) but we were unsuccessful. Things like this cut very deep into our community and leave us feeling vulnerable and sad. I like to trust my neighbors and I constantly wax poetic about the Old North End and the people who live here, but this puts a little chink in my armor. So if you happen to see someone who has newly acquired a lovely tan zero gravity lounge chair with a cup holder no less and they seem a little shady, please let me know, I would love to have my Momma chair back.
In the face of this trust-killing behavior neighbors are rallying. Some good news arrived today via FPF from Gloria again…
Today, just as I was about to begin a phone session with a client, an angel, dressed as a woman from Vermont, drove up to my home, got out of her car, and gifted me with an amazing, full, in-bloom fuschia hanging basket. I had never seen this person before in the 12 years I lived here, yet I was reduced to tears in a nanosecond and hugged her. She had heard of our losses from the other night and brought this beautiful plant to us to help us to know there is still good in people in world. She had a chair stolen (the same night the block was hit) that her family bought as a gift to her, and yet she came with this gift for us.
I want to express how much this gesture meant to us – and apparently to the hummingbirds in the area! Over the past few days we have been trying to replace/redo what was stolen…
Thank you for your beautiful heart, your generosity and please, please let me know if I can ever do anything for you. May God bless you and your family.
#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!
Seniors in Vermont have long put their neighborhood Front Porch Forum to good use. Today, AARP reported on this growing trend…
According to a 2010 Pew Internet and American Life Project report, of nearly 2,300 surveyed, half ages 50-64 did not know their neighbors; the number was 52% for ages 65+.
So when I heard about free neighborhood websites, I stopped multitasking. They are a place where neighbors communicate online with others who live nearby about community issues (a new building project in the area, traffic concerns, a burglary, a favorite gardener, a family in need), post requests, and get to know one another. That often leads to face-to-face connections and new relationships.
According to Michael Wood-Lewis, cofounder of the Front Porch Forum, a neighborhood website in Burlington, Vt., there are about 20 similar start-ups around the country. Created in 2006, his is among the oldest and serves one-third of Vermont.
One of most recent entrants is the San Francisco-based Nextdoor, which debuted last October and is in more than 1,200 neighborhoods nationwide. In order to join one of these private social networks, you have to live in that neighborhood (except if you’re an adult child/caregiver) and when posting, use your full name. If there’s no neighborhood website, you can start one and invite neighbors to join.
What does this have to do with caregiving? These companies are seeing adult children, who are caregivers, or their parents or relatives, the care recipients, using it to enlist the help of others. Last winter, during a blizzard, an adult daughter living across town got on the Front Porch Forum website and asked her mother’s neighbors to check on her. Several went over to make sure she was okay and fed, while someone else shoveled her driveway and walk…
Arthur Goyette knows the value of good neighbors. His wife Betty died three years ago, but while she was battling cancer, his neighbors brought countless meals to their Caroline Street home. When the neighbors learned that Betty had always wanted to ride in a convertible, they found a dealership willing to loan them a car, and surprised the Goyettes with a Chrysler Sebring. When the couple drove down the street with the top down, people lined the block waving and taking pictures.
Remembering this time, the 71-year-old Goyette marvels that he barely knew some of the people who helped him. He might never have known them at all if it weren’t for an email newsletter called the Front Porch Forum, which serves the South End neighborhood known as the Five Sisters.
Goyette’s neighbors used the newsletter to organize support for the family. “If the web wasn’t there,” he says, “it never would have happened.”
Goyette is not the only South End resident who credits the 6-year-old Front Porch Forum with bolstering community. The FPF website lists testimonials from dozens of users who say they like the way this free online service helps them connect with others in the immediate area; of the 350 households in Five Sisters, 286 subscribe…
Thanks so, so much for posting the message about Operation Snow Shovel throughout Burlington. The response was incredible! Can you believe that I’ve heard from 57 people willing to volunteer to shovel? 57! (That’s in addition to the 33 permanent volunteers who shovel for a particular person each time it snows– many of them were recruited through Front Porch Forum, too.) A large percentage of volunteers said they’d heard about the need through their neighborhood forum.
As of right now, every single elderly or disabled person in need of help that contacted OSS has been accommodated. And those I’ve yet to hear from will get help quickly. What a wonderful resource these forums are! Many, many thanks!
And another one… Watching neighbors connect through Front Porch Forum is often both fascinating and moving. This post from today, e.g., adds to other evidence we’ve witnessed of people wanting and waiting for a chance to lend a helping hand to those around them.
My husband died from metastatic prostate cancer in October. I asked for help finding someone to snowblow my driveway [through her FPF neighborhood forum] and think I have found someone. Then I went away for a week and when I returned my leaves were raked and removed and items moved from around the house to the driveway. I don’t know who did this, but I have to think it was someone in the neighborhood and I wanted to say thank you.
This message comes from a suburban-style neighborhood where about a quarter of the 200 households signed up with Front Porch Forum in the first three months of operation. To further thank her neighbors, the writer goes on to share a warning:
You should also know that in July 2006 we had a house invasion during the daytime (2:30 pm, man with a ski-mask) and my husband’s pain medication was stolen ([he] was lying in bed at the time). While I was away in November, there was another break in. His remaining medications were taken too. There is no more medication in the house and it is now very much more secure, but be aware that this sort of thing happens even in our own “safe” neighborhood.
Many thanks to the kind-hearted and energetic people who helped me out.
The anwser to the request for snow-removal help for the coming winter is great. The mysterious leaf-rakers are even better. But it’s the willingness of the writer to share her loss, ask for help, and offer a constructive warning to her neighbors out of what must have been an awful experience that motivates us to make Front Porch Forum happen for more people and neighborhoods.
#VT - Saturday night between 5:00 and 8:00, I lost my phone and internet connections. During that time at approximately 7:00 p.m. my two large male German Shepherds started barking from inside. My 3 year old flew out the door & off my porch barking ferociously & atypically. The next morning a Telecom worker came to fix my service and said that the telephone box had been unscrewed, left open and the wires had been dismantled. He added: “This doesn’t just happen. It had to have been deliberate.”. He and the State Policeman said that this is what intruders do to disconnect any alarm system whether you have one or not. Warning: If your phones suddenly stop working, check your outside box for suspicious activity. I was home and that did not seem to matter. The Police said that the good news is… my dogs were home too. Extra treats and back rubs for them!
This was just posted now by a Charlotte Front Porch Forum member.
We’re seeing lots of break-in news shared among neighbors on FPF, so be sure to lock up and take reasonable precautions. Also, connecting with neighbors is helpful. I know I rest easier when my neighbors and I are all keeping an eye out for each other.
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