Trade associations form when a group of businesses in the same field feel a need to work together to (1) get a better shake from government and/or (2) get group discounts from the vendors that serve them. Professional societies serve the same purpose for individuals. Last I recall, the United States has an incredible number of these organizations. That’s how you get things done… find a group with common interests to yours, then work together to lobby government and twist the arms of your common business partners (yes, they also provide training, issue credentials, market the industry, etc.).
I’ve been in and around such entities for much of my career in Washington, DC (trade associations central) and more recently in Vermont (where I ran a 30-employee association of utilities).
Now in launching Front Porch Forum, I’ll be darned if I don’t find myself on familiar ground. This past week, a neighborhood forum in Williston bustled with talk of neighbors banding together to muscle a bulk discount from a trash hauler. Previously, a forum in Shelburne discussed a group discount on home heating oil. Neighbors in Burlington have connected through their forum to split cords of firewood. Another group of neighbors jointly purchased a power leaf mulcher. Plenty of potential to save a buck using your forum to organize a group of neighbors to get some leverage. I wonder what’ll be next?
Using neighborhood forums to political ends… that’s even more common. Burlington forums debate the Southern Connector highway project. Williston forums heat up over the proposed landfill. Our neighborhood’s phone service used to cut out during every hard rain… for years… decades. Our forum got folks mobilized and making calls (when the sun shined!). Now we have new poles and lines and great service. We have a similar story about our old nearly impassable sidewalks… replaced now with concrete the envy of every trike rider in town.
Need to mobilize your neighborhood? Try Front Porch Forum.
Posted in: Good Government, Local Online, Stories
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