Members have been using Front Porch Forum for neighborhood watch type activities for some time. Here’s something similar. Burlington police use a nationally available service that automatically calls all phone numbers within one or more neighborhoods to alert the community about a missing child… wonderful use of technology. (I can’t imagine how terrible this situation must be for the people caught up in it.)
The downside… after receiving this alarming call from a machine, with few details (you don’t know who the kid is typically… just that a neighbor boy or girl of certain description is gone), you get nothing more… no follow up. No “we found Billy and everything is okay.” The service can’t be used that way, only for emergencies.
So it was interesting to read the minutes from the March 2007 Neighborhood Planning Assembly meeting for Ward 5 today:
Corporal Fabiani informed the NPA of a localized “Child is missing” alert that was activated recently and was successful in finding the child safely. Currently there is no ability to make a similar phone call to cancel the alert. Suggestions were made that the Front Porch Forum could be used to alert neighbors of the status. Local TV and radio stations are already used.
That’s another great use of our neighborhood forums, and, in fact, this has been done at least twice recently, once in the South End and once in the Old North End to good effect. Put the word out on the forum and it spreads across the neighborhood.
Thanks to a couple Vermont women for bringing a Vermont Woman article to my attention today… that’s Melanie Brotz and Nancy Osborne. In the April 2007 issue, Ann Hagman Cardinal writes about Marci Young who has given up driving for environmental reasons… commendable! But here’s the part that caught my attention…
“I ended up catching a ride home [from Solar Fest] with friends I hadn’t known were going. That’s why we need Front Porch Forum!” she says, referring to the Internet-based neighborhood networking movement.
That’s right, we (all 4,300 members to date) are a movement! Alright! Love it.
The Local Onliner brought an interesting couple articles to my attention today by New York Times writer Jonathan Berr:
“I was reminded of what made eBay a success while I was reporting the story,” writes Berr, in a separate story picked up by AOL Finance. “First, it’s still a very affordable way for many small businesses who don’t want to spend the money on search advertising to sell their wares on the Internet. eBay also seems to be replacing garage sales as the means that people use to get rid of their junk.” [emphasis added]
I find this last bit troubling. I assert we need more garage sales, not less. Let’s compare on a few fronts:
Garage sale… Talk to the blue-haired lady a few doors down about her antique lamp and what the neighborhood used to be like. Buy a watered-down Dixie cup of lemonade from the four-year-old who may be cutting your grass in another ten years. Talk with real people, face to face as you shop… “do you think I’d use this bread machine?” Find a deal.
eBay… Email distant strangers about Barry Bonds bobblehead dolls. Sit by yourself and decide you must have it.
Sustain our environment:
Garage sale… Walk up and down the street. Pull loot home in little red wagon.
eBay… Box up bobblehead, big delivery truck picks up item from sender’s house, trucks and jet aircraft ship across country, another big panel truck rumbles into the neighborhood and leaves cardboard and plastic-entombed doll at your doorstep. The way our society looks back in befuddlement at the Salem witch trials and wiping out millions of buffalo, and other past obvious atrocious behavior… that’s how our kids/grandkids will view behavior like this… “what were you thinking, Gramps?”
Keep your money in the neighborhood…
Garage sale… Your $20 goes to the guy who lives a couple blocks away. He then spends it at the corner store, etc.
eBay… Your $20 is split between the distant seller, eBay, Visa, UPS, Staples (for the box), etc. and leaves your community behind.
We should all put more thought into our personal dot.com practices and avoid uses that cause more harm in the long run than good. Thus ends today’s sermon. 😉