Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

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.”

List
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.

Thanks for Helping our Spring Flowers Bloom!

Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2024 by No comments yet

Thanks to thousands of Front Porch Forum members… We made it!  So many folks generously chipped in to reach FPF’s spring Supporting Member Campaign goal. These dollars will help fund FPF operations in the months ahead.

If you meant to donate to FPF and haven’t yet had a chance, there’s still time. Please give today!

FPF is a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation and not a nonprofit. Contributions are not tax deductible.