Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Strangers Loaning Money to College Students?

Posted on Monday, May 12, 2008 by 1 comment

After witnessing boatloads of goodwill among neighbors through Front Porch Forum, I thought I had seen it all.  Well… can you guess the response to this posting?

 Hello – I am a UVM student about to spend my first summer in Burlington. All year long I’ve been dreaming of joining a CSA for the first time. I’ve done my research, found a farm, and am totally pumped for fresh local veggies. But, of course, there’s one problem: money. Like any typical college student, I have some financial woes, namely that I have very little cash at the moment. I have a job lined up for the summer with the Vermont Landscape Change Program (check it out at which is funded by the National Science Foundation, and is therefore well-paid. I can afford a CSA, just not until I start getting paid in early June, which, unfortunately, goes against the very idea behind CSA (ie cash up front).

Since everyone on this forum seems to care about community programs, local business, and general camaraderie, I thought it wouldn’t kill me to at least ask if there is anyone out there willing to give me a loan for 200 dollars. I realize this sounds a little sketchy… I am more than happy to talk for hours, meet up, provide references, and even draw up a contract. I’d also be thrilled to bake you pies all summer long! I realize you can’t get a good sense of me via e-mail, but if there’s any chance that you might be able to help me out, I would be so, so thankful. I promise that my intentions are totally honest and that you will get your money back. thanks!

Now, less than 12 hours later, I just stumbled across her blog posting

Yesterday I asked my neighbors for a loan to get a CSA share at a local farm. By 10 am today, I had six (SIX!) offers from strangers, happy to loan a college student a couple hundred bucks. I couldn’t be a less safe bet (I mean, come on, I’m a college student who spent two weeks scrounging for food!), and yet so many people were willing to give me a shot. Wow.

So here’s my conclusion: there are, actually, more good people than bad people out there, but the problem is that they don’t ever really show their ‘goodness.’ If everyone were just a little less shy, then we could all do a better job helping each other out. That said, everybody should join the Front Porch Forum (

Posted in: Burlington, Clay Shirky, College Students, Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, MacArthur Fellows, Neighborhood, social capital, Social Networking, Stories, Vermont

One comment

  1. Dan says:

    Well, that’s a perfect example of Robert Putnam’s central dictum: ‘many interactions over time lead to the norm of generalised reciprocity’! Great to see that it works through online interaction too.

    Though it can’t just be the ‘online’ element – there must be some combination of online and the physical locality that makes the development of social capital possible…

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