Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2007 by Michael
Gotta love surprises! At least good ones. Last night I noted a post by Mark Glaser of MediaShift, a PBS blog, that put the question to his readers… “What’s your favorite way of getting hyper-local or neighborhood news?”
I wondered how Front Porch Forum members would answer that, so I asked a group of them, specifically the FPF Neighborhood Volunteers. The surprise arrived this morning when I checked the comments on MediaShift… Nine of 12 remarks are from happy FPF members… lovely and insightful comments to the one. Here’s a sample from Jeff in Richmond…
Front Porch Forum is a local e-mail based newsletter in and around Burlington, Vermont. We use it to share whatever is in our garage, learn who is sick in the neighborhood and find out what is happening in local politics.
Why would an entire neighborhood need a canoe in every garage, when we can share, reduce consumption and create community by loaning our canoe to our neighbors.
We have collected 150 sets of silverware from garage sales and tag sales and let our neighbors know through Front Porch Forum that they can borrow our bucket of silver whenever they have a large gathering. So much better than using those petroleum based plastic forks and spoons.
We found out through Front Porch Forum when our neighbor’s son was shipped out to Iraq and were able to contribute to weekly care packages sent by another neighbor.
We find out about everything from public hearings to lemonade stands through this service and as a school board trustee I get direct feedback from my constituents.
We love Front Porch Forum.
Thanks Jeff and all who have and will add their two cents. Now I see that the PBS blogger has added a question specifically to FPF members…
Welcome all you folks from Front Porch Forum! Glad to have you on the blog. I’m curious if some of you can explain how you first heard about it, and why you trust the information there. Also, what new features would you like to see on that service or similar ones? And finally, can Front Porch Forum or other services really call out public officials or businesses if there are problems, or are they too tied in to those local power centers?
If you care to respond, add your comment at MediaShift. Also, if you’re an FPF member and so inclined, please share this link on your own neighborhood’s forum.
UPDATE: And respond you did! Thanks to all the FPF members who answered the PBS.org reporter’s questions. Here’s the latest one from Lorinda who participates on the Milton Neighborhood Forum…
My neighborhood Front Porch Forum is still in its baby step stages, but it is still the best way for immediate news. I also am connected to the Volunteer section of the forum which contains selected messages that may be of wider interest than just one neighborhood. I heard about it from my daughter who works in the neighborhood of the original forum.
I trust the news the same way I do when I meet someone in the grocery store (Vermont is still the kind of place where you ALWAYS meet someone you know at the grocery store). These are truly MY neighbors — and why would they lie to me about a lost cat, the time of the school board meeting, or wanting to borrow a garden tractor, for Pete’s sake?
And what was that about being tied in to the local power base? You have to be kidding, right? It’s people like us who ARE the local power base, whatever that is and if we have one. How is anyone going to tie up the collective voices of thousands of reporters, each speaking from her own heart and his own home? This is the most free form of expression and the absolute best use of the internet I can think of.
[…] And from the stream of FPF comments on the PBS blog MediaShift… Is there an echo in here? There oughta be for the Front Porch Forum in Burlington, VT. Not only is it a source for hyperlocal news, but it is also a record of our times a la Studs Terkel. All history is personal – isn’t that the premise. What Michael Wood-Lewis and family have created is nothing short of a perfect marriage between technology and community, from the banal to the profound – and everything in between. -Richard […]
Front porch forum in my neighborhood is a virtual “stoop” – the word we used to use in Brooklyn to describe the three or four concrete steps in front of the skinny 2 or three story buildings we lived in – a la, “Come to my stoop after lunch and I’ll tell you what Tony did to that little brat at the dance,” or “Come to my stoop any time and I’ll pick some a them figs from my tree for you. Oh Madonne, Magnifico!”
At Front Porch Forum my neighbors identify lost/stolen pets and bikes, talk or rant about city ordinance decisions, invite people to summer barbecues, entreat youth to help shovel snow, find room-mates, offer free appliances, and track possible stalkers. It’s a rich representation of the generous, thoughtful, caring people in the Old North End.