Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

A Bright Spot Amid Storms

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2024 by No comments yet

Last week brought torrential rain and fast waters to areas of Vermont that were, ironically, marking the one-year anniversary of devastating floods in July 2023. With the muscle memory of the year prior, municipalities, businesses, and neighbors jumped into action to deliver emergency and repair services as well as resources for the long process of rebuilding. Like last year, Front Porch Forum shifted into response mode and published critical messages as soon as they were submitted.

Here are just some of the many postings from around the state. We share them here as a beautiful reminder of how Vermonters value community and step up for each other in times of crisis.

Giving Thanks
Carol, Moretown

We had a tree come down and block our small brook, which became a raging river due to the storm. It blocked the stream sending it over its bank and into our driveway. Took the driveway and half of our town road. While the road was still passable, we could not leave our home due to a 6-ft-deep hole that once was our driveway.

My can’t-sit-still husband decided he would build a bridge! A neighbor came and brought materials that would help in his endeavor. I can only imagine that after doing so… there may have been second thoughts. Whether out of fear of safety, or just a good belly laugh, the story of bridge building soon spread. Very soon after we were told that the town would be coming to assist.

Martin and his crew came delivering stone to create an out. We are free once again! Still need to repair a major hole, but building a bridge is no longer needed… much to the disappointment of my husband.

A very sincere Thank You to Martin, his crew and to James – not only for their concern, access to the road, which is so very much appreciated, but also for the good laughs that we had imagining the conversation that took place of The Great Bridge Build on Murphy Road!

Town Reports, Road Crew
Barbara, Stowe

I am joining the chorus of gracias, mercis, thank yous, dankas, and more [spelling doesn’t count] The town emergency reports have been extremely helpful, The road crews amazing. Thursday I drove Edson Hill from West Branch and several driveway’s worth of gravel covered Rt 108 and in the time I had breakfast the town crew had cleared the gravel and the only signs were wet spots on the pavement. Our road crews, public and private are amazing. When we are going on “drive abouts” let’s give them a flash of our high beams to say thanks. Let’s remember to dim them after. 

Who Needs Help Recovering from Recent Floods?
Arica, Winooski

It seems Winooski came through the recent rains ok, but many of our surrounding communities did not. Does anyone know of folks hit by the flooding who need help this weekend? I checked the state websites, but they are only listing volunteer opportunities for LAST year’s flood. I guess it’s too soon to have the volunteer opportunities posted for Wednesday’s storm. If you know of someone who needs help this weekend, please let me know. Looking for ways to help.

Eric, Waterbury

BIG shoutout to KORE power and the MANY others who offered help on Randall Street and I’m sure all around town to help after the flooding!

I went to get a friend and a small temporary electric hot water heater while my dad and a friend pumped five feet of water out of their basement. By the time we got back to muck out the remaining mud a dozen employees from KORE had already hauled it all out (400 bucket loads worth!)

We were lucky and it was just our basement but I saw people driving and biking around offering help to total strangers and it was great to see! Others offered food and drinks, etc. Flooding sucks but since Irene it’s been quite remarkable the response from the people and businesses in the community to help lighten the load.

From my sister’s HUHS soccer team, higher-ups from Ben and Jerry’s, the Alchemist (remember the brew pub?) delivering “new” beers WAY back in the day, a next generation of Harwood athletes, to now KORE and MANY others, the dingy old basements in Waterbury have welcomed quite the crowd.

As things change in town, as is apt to happen over a number of years, it’s pretty cool how nothing has changed in the gracious and sympathetic nature of the community to help friends, neighbors, and strangers! 

Re: Kudos Again!
Jane, Stowe

We had a complete washout of the dirt road leading up to our home and several others above Topnotch. By 6am, when my husband called Percy for help, as they usually service our road year round, they had already received 40 calls!!

Despite that, they were here to restore one lane access this afternoon, and will return tomorrow.

Outstanding service to our whole community, and they must be exhausted after all their efforts in the whole Stowe Hollow complex. 

Help During July 10 Flooding
Jennifer, Waitsfield

I want to thank all the brave men and women who came to the rescue last night of my mother and I after Shepard Brook turned nasty. The patrol from Chester, aided by our amazing local teams, successfully got us to higher ground in a Zeppelin. A special shout-out to Mr Irish for waiting in the fire truck with us while our overnight accommodations ride arrived. Amazing people doing amazing deeds! 

Huntington Neighbors Are the Best
Liza, Huntington

I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank Troy and Lisa Liberty. They went way above and beyond last night during the flooding to help me in a time of need. Very, very grateful for this town and the people that live in it and all that we do to support each other. 

Thank You West Bolton for the Love
Jenn, West Bolton

Brandon and I would like to graciously thank this amazing community for the love and support we have received since Thursday. As many know, our house (the little red house on the corner) was hit hard on either side from the rivers. It has been one of the worst and scariest times of our lives. The way this community stepped up was unreal. People came running with shovels, tractors, and wheelbarrows asking what they could do. We organized a clean up day and nearly 50 neighbors showed up to help York Road, many of which I met for the first time that day.

Thank you Connor for getting us up, thank you Jeff for picking us up, thank you Susan for housing me while I cried, thank you Chris for digging out our neighbors, thank you Dickie for giving us a driveway, thank you Eric + team for giving us the road, thank you Zack for the dump run, thank you to the 50 friends who showed up to spend a day working in our yard, and thank you to everyone who has stopped to give a hug and condolences. This support is unreal!

Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Fred, Marshfield

In response to the flooding that has devastated much of our central Vermont communities, Twin Valley Senior Center is here to help. TVSC is offering assistance to flood victims and volunteers. TVSC has a large space that you can use for potential community meetings or individual meetings with state and federal agencies. We will also provide free lunch to anyone affected and volunteers.

Twin Valley Senior Center cares about our communities and is ready to do our part to help. 

Thank You, Peacham!
Jenny, Peacham

We are so grateful to dear friends and neighbors in Peacham, Barnet, and St. J who came today — 60 people — to help us save precious things from our home before the flood mold sets in. People mucked out, saved our children’s toys, pet meds, our winter clothes, our snow tires, etc.; double-checked on safety in the home and helped us make decisions; drove endless shuttles to a new home for now in Peacham; made food and fed volunteers; power washed muck off furniture; sorted out possessions to dry; lovingly salvaged and dried single photos and kids’ artwork; took clothes and quilts to wash and dry; built stone steps for a safe passage to the house; rescued items from our barn down the river; documented the full disaster for insurance; gave hugs. Many, many other people gave offers of housing, car loans, furniture, and child help. This is truly the best community in the world. It has been such a hard day, but also one filled with love and kindness, and we are so grateful.

Displaced Chickens
Monica, Plainfield

If anyone needs a foster/rehome for any displaced chickens let us know. Jeremy and I took in three hens from last year’s Barre floods and we have room in our coop to host some homeless birds who may need safe shelter.

Unfortunately we can’t take a rooster as our beloved boy would be aggrieved by another fellow to compete for his ladies.

P.S.  Thanks to FPF for their rapid-fire distribution of postings during this chaotic time — information flow is critical in disaster recovery; thank you for this contribution to our community!

Looking for Fayston Neighbors Who Need a Hand
Aaron Lamb, Fayston

My property damage was minor, but for many Fayston town residents they suffered substantial property damage and loss. Because of that, I’m looking to get a crew of folks interested in donating their time to help those locally.

If you don’t like physical labor, but still want to help? We could use donated water for those with well water too dangerous to drink, or donuts to fuel the recovery efforts of the manual laborers… whatever you can offer. I know of some families without power or those emotionally/physically drained that could use a meal.

Tomorrow I am kicking-off a volunteer program of helping your Fayston neighbor.  No major equipment needed for this job, just sturdy hands and a rake/shovel. We are hoping to clear the sand, rocks and various debris from the property. Nothing crazy, but good manual fun, sweat and a workout with your neighbors. Let’s get to know each other.

Once this house is done, we can move onto help another neighbor. If you are in need of this volunteer assistance, please reach out to me and I will put you on the list. Unfortunately, our skills are limited as we are not contractors, but for some slightly bigger jobs, we are looking for those willing to donate tractor/equipment time. Let’s rebuild Fayston! 

Snipe Ireland Neighbors!
Olive, Richmond

Howdy Snipe Ireland folks (or surrounding roads)!

Fortunately we are not cut off by the road closure, so if anyone needs groceries or supplies, I am happy to get them to you!

We can also leave supplies by our mailbox if anyone who wants to bike/walk up needs them. Just let me know what I can grab at the store.

Hope everyone is doing ok!

Resources for Flood Victims and Volunteers

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2024 by No comments yet

The staff and families of Front Porch Forum extend heartfelt concern for all those who have experienced loss in this season’s recent flooding. Vermonters, as usual, are rallying to each other’s aid. At Front Porch Forum, we aim to quickly publish emergency notices and availability of aid in the relevant Forums.

Knowing where to go for help can feel overwhelming. There are excellent resources, but sometimes they are difficult to find. We are sharing this comprehensive, dynamic document created in July 2023 and now being updated for your reference. It was created by Wendy Rice at Vermont Connector.

Talking “Good Web” with Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure at UMass Amherst

Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 by No comments yet

“How did Vermont’s favorite civic social network turn into a climate disaster response network overnight? Michael Wood-Lewis Tells Us About His Local Good Web”

Producer Mike Sugarman joined Michael Wood-Lewis in the Front Porch Forum office in Burlington to provide an “inside look at how Vermont’s favorite civic social network runs.”

The episode mentions the Seven Days article “Talk of the Towns: Neighbors Seek Plumbers, Lost Pets and Community on Front Porch Forum” as well as forthcoming research from two-time Reimagining guest Talia Stroud for New_Public.

Michael talks about why Front Porch Forum works in Vermont (as opposed to, say, a suburb of Phoenix), what it means to be a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation, and helping communities to build resilience. “Front Porch Forum is in the business of … increasing social capital among neighbors, increasing the vibrancy of the local Main Street businesses, increasing the vitality of the local nonprofit sector, increasing, improving involvement with local democracy.”

en to the full (and rather inspiring) conversation with Mike and Michael here.

Best of FPF: A Final Commute!

Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2024 by No comments yet

Last week, Ann invited neighbors in the Underhill Forum to help cheer on her husband on his final bike ride home after 29 years of commuting. We thought it was well worth a share:

“Whether you know his name or not, you’ve probably seen my husband riding through your town at some point — looking intent, pedaling hard. He’s the guy with the fanny pack and when it’s cold, a pink and yellow helmet cover!

Now it’s time to celebrate with him! At the end of the school day, Todd and I will be leaving the high school on our bikes for his final commute. There are a few ways to celebrate his career:

1) Offer a friendly toot or good word if you see us on the roadway.

2) Ride with us for the last three miles by meeting us at the Deborah Rawson Library. We will travel to the Town Pond together.

3) Meet us at the Town Pond for a quick celebratory hip hip hooray!”

Vermont Vision For Youth Success

Posted on Friday, June 21, 2024 by No comments yet

Together with many other organizations, Front Porch Forum was honored to partner with Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) in their multi-faceted effort to research and write the newly released report, the Vermont Vision for Youth Success. FPF helped VCRD to gather critical survey data and organize discussions about key issues by posting messages across the state. More than 600 Vermont youth and allies participated.

The report names six key areas requiring attention and offers four overarching recommendations. Connection to community, as a solution, is a steady drumbeat noted throughout the report. Front Porch Forum can and does play a healthy role for that kind of connection, both for youth and adults.

“Opportunities for Work and Life Experiences within and Beyond the Classroom” and “Spaces and Activities Accessible and Welcoming to Youth and Families” are named as critical needs. But, what does it look like when communities offer their young people opportunities to connect? This! We see postings on a daily basis from businesses and organizations announcing programs and events where youth are encouraged to participate, learn, and engage.

Here are just few FPF postings we’ve seen lately that meet this need:

  • Waterbury Public Library invites “Teens to hang out for Mini-Golf, Pizza, Switch games & Board Games to celebrate school being done!”
  • Water Wanderings’ is promoting “Hands-on, fun and enriching camp equip campers with practical skills in fire building, knot tying, canoeing, cooking and more while also teaching them about local ecology, sustainability, equity, community, and art,” on the Green River Reservoir in Hyde Park Vermont (tents, food, and canoes provided)
  • Middletown Springs “University” (a community-based learning hub) is hosting a “Teen Cookie Gathering.”
  • Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury announces “Teen Makery: Three labs are available each week – Woodworking, Sewing, and Magic: The Gathering. Youth can simply show up to the Career Center any Thursday afternoon.”

Local programs are an essential way for youth to connect to community. Front Porch Forum is an essential tool to help amplify these spaces and events.  So, please post youth-focused offers to your local FPF Forum and Community Calendar. It works!

Best of FPF: This Fire Chief’s Journey Could be Yours

Posted on Friday, June 21, 2024 by No comments yet

Adam, the Fire Chief in Grand Isle, posted this recruiting message in his Forum. We thought it was well worth a share:

“It is hard for me to believe that twelve years ago today I stepped into the Grand Isle Fire Station for the first time. I told Assistant Chief Wade Lawrence that I thought I might be interested in joining. He showed me around the station, showed me the trucks and the equipment, told me about the other members, and spewed a lot of acronyms, like SCBA, TIC, NFPA, PASS, ICS, LDH, IDLH, SAR. That evening was a scheduled training reviewing marine responses.

From the sidelines, I watched twelve islanders I had never met before. The experience was a bit intimidating, but I came back the next week and kept showing up.

Those acronyms soon became familiar as did the islanders. I attended the Vermont Fire Academy to learn more and get certified; I attended weekly trainings and went on calls. Today, I serve as Chief of Grand Isle Vol. Fire Department. Twelve years ago, that role was unimaginable.

I am writing this note in hopes that you will take the same jump I did and join the Grand Isle Volunteer Fire Department. You will learn new skills, help your community, and meet fellow islanders. Plus, you get to wear a cool hat, ride in a fire truck, and get paid to attend trainings and respond to calls.

To learn more or to join our department, stop by the station or reach out to me with questions. I’ll be happy to give you a tour of the station and our equipment and introduce you to a bunch of islanders who may soon become familiar faces and friends.”

Best of FPF: Welcome, Baby, to the Neighborhood!

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2024 by No comments yet

Jo posted this generous message in her Randolph Forum and we thought it was well worth a share:

“On my way home tonight I saw posters and balloons welcoming a new baby to the neighborhood. If you happen to know this family, please send them this message:

‘Congratulations on welcoming your baby! While these first few weeks are some of the hardest, they are also some of the best and go by so quickly! We celebrate our baby girl’s first birthday next week and I miss those newborn scrunches!’

‘Unsure if this is your first baby, and perhaps you have more support than you know what to do with, but I wanted to say, please reach out anytime for help or just someone to talk to! I am currently still home with my daughter and I am happy to be of any assistance or just a person to let you cry to if needed. I won’t offer any unsolicited advice, but I would happily share tips or things that worked for me should you ask.’

‘Congratulations again!'”

Best of FPF: A Hard Life Well Lived

Posted on Thursday, June 6, 2024 by No comments yet

John D. posted this in his Mad River Valley Forum some time ago. We thought it was worth sharing with you as part of our weekly Best of FPF series:

“A few winters back there was a very short, simple obituary in the Valley Reporter noting the death of the farmer, Donny Joslin, at age 91. In one way that was a fitting tribute, as Don was a humble, hardworking, uncomplicated person, but in another way it was woefully too short in marking the man and his imprint on the Valley.

Don was the most interesting Vermonter I have known. All summer, he could be seen on the Common Road or East Warren Road driving his antiquated tractor to numerous properties he hayed – including ours. For most of his farming career, he was a one-man band working from sun up to sun down. He lived a hardscrabble existence and never had a day off.

It is hard to appreciate the utter lack of creature comforts Don survived with for most of his life. For many years, he had no running water, or at least no hot water when he did have running water. He lived in a small portion of an extremely rundown farmhouse heated with a wood stove. He didn’t have the time or money to fix it up. But he didn’t seem to mind because that’s the way it had always been.

Don had an undeserved reputation as a mean, curmudgeon. While Don did label his farm ‘Misery Manor’ and had the saying ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here’ written on his gate, this was just evidence of his dry humor. He had very poor eyesight and hearing. So, as the many Common Road walkers passed him by and tried to get him to respond to their greetings, Donny often didn’t hear them or know who they were, so he didn’t acknowledge them – enhancing his reputation. Occasionally, if he knew who you were, and he wanted to take a break from his work, he could entertain you for a long time with some funny stories and perspectives on farming in the Valley.

He had the opportunity to sell a separate parcel he owned for more than enough money to live comfortably with a life of leisure in his remaining days. But Donny had no interest in sitting down. Farming and hard work were all he knew. Someone remarked to Don about the many spectacular views visible from his property. His response mirrored his love and respect for the value of his land – ‘You can’t eat the view,’ he replied.

Donald W. Joslyn loved his land, he lived his land, and died in his easy chair in his house on his land – that’s all he wanted out of life.”

A Neighbor’s Recommendation

Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 by No comments yet

Seeking suggestions for trusted businesses is one of the most common uses of Front Porch Forum. You read those postings all the time, right? Plumbers, contractors, tutors … Well, that’s one of the reasons that FPF developed a network of local Area Business Directories for every town in Vermont. Now businesses and nonprofits can log all their information into their Area Business Directory listing. So, when it comes time for you to get that leaky sink fixed once and for all, not only will you find numerous plumbers listed in your area, but if that business has recently shared an announcement or if a neighbor has chimed in with a recommendation, you’ll know which one to call!

Here are a few great examples:

Amanda, in Colchester, shared with her neighbors, “As this is a place to find trusted information, I wanted to send out a recommendation for the All-Star Cleaning Company. I signed up recently for weekly cleanings, they have been to my house twice now. They do great work, are friendly, and are clear regarding what you will and will not be getting for pricing. They are also amazing with my dog. At this point, I couldn’t be happier.” Check out All Star Cleaning Company, read all their reviews and recent postings.

Tara, in Waterbury, was seeking some tools to cope with anxiety. She discovered Butterfly Moon Wellness when River posted about her wellness and meditation coaching on FPF. Now Tara shared with neighbors, as can be read in the Business Directory, “She changed my life. She taught me all the tools I needed to take care of myself. You won’t regret reaching out. We forget how important our breath can actually be.”

When Fritz, in Shelburne, had a literal tangle with technology, he turned to the Independent Tech Guy for help. “Acting upon a friend’s recommendation in FPF, I emailed Henry Hilliard, who managed to untangle the mess we had and restored most of the 35 or so devices around the house to working order. Henry is a very accomplished, gentle and kind person who focuses on defining and remedying the issues at hand. He describes the problems and their solutions in layman’s terms. He is conscious of the need to simplify and save needless expenses.”

Introducing the Best of FPF

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2024 by No comments yet

Each week, FPF will share a posting, with permission, selected for its humor, storytelling, or community-building. You’ll find them in your email and also right here. We hope you’ll enjoy!

I Hate Vacuuming and Now You Can, Too!
We have a central vacuum.

When Grandpa moved to Texas, somehow we got his Miele Leo vacuum cleaner, which went into the basement for the past four years. Then Grandma Goose downsized and we ended up with yet another vacuum. This time a Dyson DC25. It also went into the basement.The two machines have been quietly sitting in the dark all these days, just waiting to get out and suck again…

And now, thanks to wife’s threat to, “CLEAN ALL THIS JUNK OUT OF THE BASEMENT, OR ELSE, BECAUSE I AM LITERALLY GOING TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK IF YOU DON’T. I’M NOT KIDDING, MISTER,” you can help either one of these vacuums to suck again!

$100 for the Dyson.$100 for the Miele.$200 to save the marriage.

– Steve, Weybridge Cornwall Forum

P.S. These vacuums are no longer for sale.