A local hardware store is running ads for its handyman service, called “Rent a Husband.” A friend, John Grimm, took them to task via his ONE West Neighborhood Forum awhile ago and several other neighbors then piled on. He talked to the business owner, which didn’t seem to go anywhere. Then yesterday I saw that the local daily paper finally printed John’s Front Porch Forum piece (I assume he submitted them at the same time).
So today’s posting by a woman in the Richmond South Neighborhood Forum made me smile…
Seeking “handy” person… or a “husband”. My Brian doesn’t want to HAVE to do anything domestic when he gets home from work and my honey-do list has gotten really long. My honey won’t and I can’t. If you know someone handy for hire, please let me know. Thanks.
I hope she finds someone… my honey-do list is getting a bit ripe too!
I love the message posted today on the Five Sisters Neighborhood Forum below by a father on behalf of his kid…
I am 8 years old and a 3rd grader at Champlain. I have been playing the drums for two years (lessons every week) and I am getting quite good. My Dad and Mom have told me that it is “cool with them” if I want to start a rock band. I am looking for a singer, guitar player, keyboard player, and a bass player. I am looking for band mates from the ages of 8 to 12. We can practice at my house on the weekends. I have my own drum set and we have keyboards as well. Please call me if you are interested. Rock on…
I think this is a first for Front Porch Forum… maybe we’ll make it in the liner notes some day (do they still write liner notes?).
The findings are from a three-year study involving some 600 children and 80 parents in five contrasting areas – two inner London boroughs, an outer London suburb, a new town in the South East of England, and a city in the Midlands. During the study, the researchers examined children’s experiences of traveling to school and to a wide range of activities outside the home – from formal clubs to hanging out in the park.
They found that the more parents were involved in the lives of their neighbours, the more freedom they gave their children. At the same time, the more social networks children have in a neighbourhood, the greater parents’ confidence in the safety of that area.
The research also suggests that when parents allow their children to roam, their classmate’s parents draw from that confidence. This in turn impacts upon their classmates’ freedom of action.
It’s good to see more evidence of Front Porch Forum‘s underlying premise… when people are more connected with their neighbors and plugged into their local community, all sorts of good things can happen, including for kids.
Refrigerator Rights reports about being new in the neighborhood. Bought an “outdoor fireplace” and lit it up this spring in his small front yard. Within a little time 21 neighbors had wandered over with beverage in hand, and dog/kid in tow. Repeat a week later to same effect. People crave connection! Folks just need to make an effort to create the time, space and welcoming environment. As the post says… “Build a fire and they will come.”
In this example, communication was easy… people looked out their front windows and saw a party forming and joined in. Other times it’s not so easy. That’s when Front Porch Forum comes in handy… one brief email and dozens of neighbors get the word about your event.
More than 100 local officials have joined Front Porch Forum spread among the various 18 towns and cities that make up Chittenden County (don’t forget Buells Gore!). We always envisioned city councilors, selectboard members and school commissioners joining and having access to the multiple neighborhood forums within their districts. This is a great way for elected local officials to listen to their constituents and to broadcast out announcements… and even to have constructive back-and-forth discussions. And it’s been broadly supported and appreciated by our members.
However, we now also have many appointed local officials, that is, department heads (public works, park and rec, zoning, etc.), police and some elementary school community resource people. In general, these folks sign on and simply “listen in.” If something comes up relevant to their area, they may respond to the neighborhood forum or the person who wrote in originally, or may do nothing… or something else all together. They occasionally post announcements.
One or two FPF members have complained about this latter group, saying it gives them too much power around political issues… if a neighborhood is fighting a development that the city is pushing, for example. I have yet to witness any outright abuses of this set up.
For their part, the local officials seem mostly grateful for the service, but also a little unsure about how best to put it to use… fair enough, Front Porch Forum is a new beast. One official complained just today that “we have well-established public processes for public input on issues… now I’m supposed to monitor all these neighborhood forums to learn what our citizens are focused on?”
With 20% of Burlington participating across 38 neighborhood forums – many hopping with hot issues (e.g, historic preservation, graffiti, car break ins, heroin, homelessness, taxes, traffic planning, stormwater, snow plowing, etc.) – our subscribers increasingly include a line in postings like… “if our public works department is reading this, will you please… ” So there does seem to be a degree of public expectation.
At the same time, other folks are adamant that the neighborhood forum be limited to residents only.
One last thought, some years ago the Five Sisters Neighborhood Forum (our flagship forum) essentially defeated a proposal to build an indoor tennis building in South Park. A few neighbors stated strong opposition based largely on false or missing information about the proposal. The developers, including King Street Youth Center, immediately backed out and the project died before the public even knew what it really was. One person declared that the neighborhood didn’t support the project, based on the forum postings, to which my neighbor Larry replied… Front Porch Forum is “a soap box, not a ballot box.” And I think he’s right… and that’s an important point for “listening in” local officials and contributing members to keep in mind.
A few folks have used their neighborhood forum to great effect… raising their issue on the forum and rallying support among the neighbors. Then, when interest is up and the local officials are starting to tune in, they use their forum to get a critical mass of neighbors to engage the municipality through existing channels… e.g., by turning out a crowd at a commission or council meeting.