Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

This year’s January Posting Flurry is OVER… and the Lucky Winner is…

Front Porch Forum members submitted hundreds of clever “toboggan” entries into FPF‘s January Posting Flurry! Thanks to those who entered, and to all who enjoyed this bit of fun. Entries received before 1 pm on January 11 were entered in the random drawing. Please DO keep posting to your local FPF as the spirit moves… but the contest is done at this point.

Without further ado, the winning entry of this year’s random drawing for an iPad is…

“Our Wii died so I thought I’d check to see if anyone local has one they don’t use that they’d like to sell?
*bonus joke* 
Why do people from Massachusetts go to auctions? 
Toboggan!”  • Cathy in Granville

Kudos, Cathy! In addition to her clever post, we received some other noteworthy posts shared here:

“As you drive around town with your toboggan on the roof of your car, why not wave to the people in cars you meet going the other way ? You have more in common than you think – and a friendly wave will help spread good will and create a sense of community!”   • Holly in Tinmouth

“Hey All, I’ve got Vapor XV hockey gloves size 13…used, but usable ($40); Winnwell hockey stick ($15) and OP Black size 11 men’s low sneakers ($15). I’m certainly willing ‘toboggan‘!”  • Judy in Derby

“I joined FPF after another member explained it to me and encouraged me to join and I am so glad I did. New to the area, I have been able to keep up with important things I otherwise would not have necessarily known about, like the PFOA clinics for example. Also I found snow plowing services through FPF after no luck with ads, yellow pages, etc. So, I won’t need a toboggan to get out this winter! “  • Alice in Sunderland

“Our couch thinks it’s a toboggan and slides all over the room. We could use an area rug to teach it otherwise.  Maybe you’ve got one waiting for a new home?” • Beth in Stowe

What exactly is a “toboggan”? The answer is simply a matter of perspective, often based upon locale. In the south, a “toboggan” is a hat. Up north, a “toboggan” is a sled.  Let’s allow this contest to serve as a reminder that a misunderstanding or differing view is simply a matter of orientation. And that the most effective and neighborly way to engage with each other, whether on FPF or in person, is to first take brief moment and consider a different perspective.  Cheers to the first snow of the year, and may the lesson of the “toboggan” positively impact all posts in 2019!”  • Alexandra in Winooski

“RiseVT has graciously donated snowshoes to many libraries including the H.F Brigham Free Library. These are brand new Tubbs snowshoes in a variety of sizes. Come and borrow them for free with your library card! Sorry we are not lending out any toboggans at this time.” • Library Director, Bakersfield

“Do you have a great homemade remedy for scrapes and scratches from a runaway toboggan? The ride was great until it swung around and flipped over!” • Mary in Woodbury

“My wife and I are looking for an inexpensive home to buy, rent, or rent to own. Fixer uppers are great. Mainly looking for secluded. May consider other options. A toboggan hill would be a plus.” • Randy in Albany

“Its a little difficult in snow, 
But I geared up and ran. 
Those sneakers are now put away, 
While the ole “Toboggan” 
Will be my new play.”  • Dechen in Lincoln



It’s January Posting Flurry time!

Returning for another year, Front Porch Forum‘s Posting Flurry, a simple contest for FPF members through 1 PM, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Simply submit a posting on a topic of your choosing (“desk for sale,” “seeking plumber,” “ode to the cold”… you choose) and include the contest word “toboggan” anywhere in your posting and you will be automatically entered. We’ll randomly draw a winner this Friday, Jan. 11. That’s it!

So, if you’ve been meaning to post a question, concern, announcement, offer, observation, advice, etc… do it now and you might win a new iPad!

1. Any current FPF member may enter by submitting a posting to their local FPF before 1 PM on Jan. 11, 2019. The posting must include the word “toboggan.”  Remember to make sure you spell it correctly!
2. To be entered in the contest, postings should reflect a genuine effort to communicate, in the spirit of our mission “to help neighbors connect and build community.” The idea of the contest is to encourage legitimate postings, so please curb the impulse to post nonsense messages.
3. Limit one entry per day per member account.
4. The winner of the random drawing will be presented with a gift certificate to Small Dog Electronics with sufficient funds to purchase a new iPad 9.7-inch 32GB Wi-Fi.

To submit your posting:
Go to https://frontporchforum.com and click “Login”, then click “Compose Posting,” enter your message, and click “Submit Posting.”

Keeping Hearts and Bellies Warm

It’s the time of year when we see more and more neighbors stepping out to lend a hand and making an extra effort to share goodwill. Enjoy a recent good tiding from Front Porch Forum

“My daughter works as Zachary’s and last night (12/23) she accidentally accepted a reservation for a family for the next night (12/24), not realizing the restaurant was going to be closed for xmas eve and xmas day. She didn’t get a phone number, just a first name so there was no way to call them back. The manager opened the pizza place tonight (12/24) for the family and he, my girl, and a couple of other generous people chipped in to serve them up their dinner.

Now that is is above and beyond. Good job on all parts, especially the manager, for caring so much about his customers that he didn’t want the family to show up to a “closed” sign AND for NOT getting mad at my sweet pea for her mistake. Nice all the way around! Happy Holidays everyone.”  • Diane E., Waterbury, Vt.

A Win-win Story

Positive outcomes abound on Front Porch Forum as neighbors share gratitude, thoughts, and even leftover paints.

“I wanted to pass on to you a win win story thanks to Front Porch Forum! I am the Director of Theatre Adventure of New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro. I read in Front Porch Forum that Joanna R. was giving away interior latex paints. I was interested because I was in the beginning stages of working with two scenic artists to create a rolldrop for our next production.
I wrote to Joanna that I was interested in her free paints. She immediately wrote back and invited me to come look at them and take anything I was interested in. I did just that!  I left Joanna’s with a full trunk of many cans of paint and a smile on my face. The artist who painted the Brattleboro street scene with these newly acquired paints was equally pleased!

See the photo for the finished scenery that we will use for our April production, “Raising Our Voices Together.” • Laura in Guilford

Wishing all a merry and bright holiday season!

More Neighborly Communities

Front Porch Forum members report closer-knit communities.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ― Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Lynn A. of Montpelier, Vt. says Front Porch Forum: discovering Vermont’s neighborly spirit, one glorious post at a time.”

FPF members report knowing and trusting more of their neighbors than national averages, resulting in closer-knit communities. Neighbors who know each other are more likely to lend a hand in times of need, whether it be loaning a pressure canner, larger-scaled community projects like organizing a foodbank, or emergency efforts.

FPF co-founder Michael Wood-Lewis shares that “when neighbors know each other and offer help or advice among each other, social capital accrues. FPF fosters real connections throughout networks of neighbors, and those ties bring genuine value to a community. Why buy a new ladder when you can borrow one from a neighbor?”

Front Porch Forum is a place where folks can learn their neighbors’ names and share hopes for the community and perspectives on local issues. The forum enables participants to familiarize and become informed online so that they can get out and have face-to-face discussions and take action offline. The result: optimism, unity, trust, and helping one another.

Stephanie Teleen, Neighbors Day VT organizer, uses Front Porch Forum to get the word out. She says “there are a few things you can count on in Vermont: beautiful scenery, ample snow, and Front Porch Forum. When Vermont became the first state in the country to celebrate Neighbor’s Day on June 2, 2018, FPF was the first and only statewide organization to help promote this event. Why? Because FPF knows the value of personal connection and communication within our communities. Neighbors Day happens once a year, but FPF works to connect neighbors every day, all year long. FPF is like a digital potluck with no cooking required! Being neighborly is paid forward in Vermont… to everyone’s benefit..”

*The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded an independent third-party, Network Impact, to design, implement and analyze an online survey of 132,188 Front Porch Forum members in March 2017. 13,086 Vermonters completed this 20-minute survey. With a 99% confidence level, the survey results represent the full FPF membership.

**2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Survey of Health Attitudes

Heartfelt gratitude for our fire fighters

It’s witnessing these acts of neighborliness that has such an impact on FPF members.

“On a slushy, awful night, there was a grease fire in an apartment above Delish and The Quirky Pet. I got the call and rushed downtown to find our fire department walking through my wet shop as well as Delish where the water was literally crawling down the walls. This might sound trivial, but the concern they showed for the health and well being of my eleven parakeets in the aviary was extraordinary. All are healthy and present for because our fire department made sure my shop was powered up to remain warm and was smoke free before they left for the night. The same concern was shown for the well being of the dogs and cat in the apartments upstairs. Our fire fighters alongside my husband and me carried load after load of candy into my pet shop saving Delish’s livelihood. They didn’t have to join in on that.

It is really unfortunate that most of us don’t really notice the fire department until they are involved in a fire call. Montpelier’s fire department is a tightly run shop of really caring people who are very good at what they do. You don’t normally see them get mentioned in Front Porch Forum.

As a Montpelier business owner… and a resident of Montpelier as well, they have my heartfelt gratitude not only for what they did for Delish and my shop but for our upstairs residential neighbors as well on a very messy night weather-wise.”   • Richard in Montpelier

When the power is out, neighbors offer help

Those with the means to help their community did so on Front Porch Forum!

“The school will be open as an emergency shelter. If you or someone you know might need a warm place to stay or a source of water, you are welcome to take shelter in the school’s multi-purpose room. Please bring sleeping bags, food and any supplies you need. You are welcome to fill your own water containers in the kitchen.”  • Principal, Robinson Elementary School

“While parts of town are without power, we want to let everyone know if they need to get fresh water, charge a phone, use the WiFi, or just hang out in the light/warmth, they are welcome here. We are happy to open our doors to community members during this inconvenient time.”  • Priscilla at Quarry Hill Farm

“If you are a local who is out of power, you are more then welcome to come here for a shower!”
Erin at The Climb Fitness Center

“We have space in a chest freezer if you are out of power and want to save some of your freezer goods.” • Lisa in Richmond


America is suffering an epidemic of loneliness

A recent opinion piece in the New York Times had us reflecting on how Front Porch Forum works to bridge loneliness.

Photo credit: John Taggart for The New York Times

“Each of us can be happier, and America will start to heal when we become the kind neighbors and generous friends we wish we had.”  • Arthur C. Brooks for the New York Times

FPF‘s community-centric framework has created a powerful norm of neighborliness that builds enduring social ties.