Yearly Archives: 2008

Community-building chorus in Winooski

Posted on Monday, December 15, 2008 by 1 comment

An uplifting story from Matt Sutkoski at the Burlington Free Press today…

The city of Winooski needed more music, more songs, Maria Rinaldi decided earlier this year.

At about the same time, the same thought crossed the mind of Sister Pat McKittrick of the Sisters of Providence. “I wanted something to lift spirits and bring people to the community. I really believe music is healing,” she said.

The two women’s thoughts culminated recently in the inaugural concert of the Winooski Community Chorus. About a dozen chorus members entertained about 125 people Dec. 6 at the Sisters of Providence chapel. McKittrick said that was many more people than expected…

McKittrick and Rinaldi recruited chorus members by posting messages on Front Porch Forum and in church bulletins and by talking the chorus up to friends and relatives…

Maria Rinaldi

Serving your nation, your community or your neighborhood

Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2008 by No comments yet

Craig Newmark writes in the Huffington Post today…

Deep in the Barack Obama platform, there’s a reference to “a craigslist for service.” It’s humbling to see our name in there, but I’d prefer to see that as only a metaphorical reference to the need for greater service to others, with the spirit and culture of trust of craigslist. Obama is inspiring millions of people to consider service to others, and to innovate for service. Check out what Barack says at

“When you choose to serve — whether it’s your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood — you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That’s why it’s called the American dream.”

Sounds like a description of how many folks use Front Porch Forum.

Bobcats, pet cats, and FPF

Posted on Saturday, December 13, 2008 by No comments yet

Folks in Rural Charlotte having been posting about lost cats, and then today a member wrote…

The cat’s family has turned up, plus others looking for their cat. It’s amazing how fast Front Porch Forum gets people in touch with each other! Thanks!

Charlie followed up with his own posting…

Speaking of cats, I saw two bobcats loping through Horsfords towards demeter yesterday (Friday).  They may be why the cat at the Hammers is seeking refuge – I know our barn cat Mirabel hunkers into the barn more when a bobcat is around.  Greenbush Roaders may want to keep a close eye on their pets.

This is the first time I’ve seen bobcats roaming in pairs.  I suspect their population is on the rise.  Does anyone else think so?

Snow Blower Fairy

Posted on Friday, December 12, 2008 by No comments yet

Northwest Vermont had its first good snow storm of the season today.  Hannah of South Burlington posted the following to her neighbors on Front Porch Forum this afternoon…

Hey neighbors! – I just wanted to thank the snow blower fairy who took care of my driveway and walkway this morning. This act of kindness really made my day and spared my back. If you want to let me know who you are I’d really like to make a plate of cookies or something. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

“The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people”

Posted on Friday, December 12, 2008 by No comments yet

Another outstanding quote provided by a Front Porch Forum member.  Thanks to Annie Dunn Watson in Essex…

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”  –David Orr

Zip Codes and Polygons

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 by No comments yet

Defining physical boundaries of neighborhoods is a cornerstone of Front Porch Forum. So we’re interested in local boundaries generally.  Vermont-based Maponics shares a good primer today about ZIP Codes and carrier routes (and they have neighborhood polygons too)…

The ZIP Code and carrier route coding system was specifically developed by the United States Postal Service (USPS) in order to make mail delivery more efficient.  This means that what the average person refers to as a “ZIP Code”, is actually a collection of addresses that have the same 5-digit code assigned to them. The USPS then further splits up each of these ZIP Codes into smaller blocks of addresses: carrier routes. A carrier route literally corresponds to the group of addresses that an individual mail service employee is responsible for delivering to each day.

There are roughly 43,000 ZIP Codes in the US.  These are divided into approximately 600,000 unique carrier routes with, on average, 15 carrier routes per ZIP Code.  Fifty percent of these are PO Box-based carrier routes which do not have actual delivery areas.

ZIP Codes and carrier routes do not tie in to any other US geography. Because of this, they frequently cross city, census tract, county and even state boundaries. The USPS does not provide maps or map data for ZIP Codes and carrier routes. Businesses looking for postal map data to inform their sales territory tracking, direct marketing and other initiatives have to turn to private map data compilers for this information.

Read the full post

“Happy neighbors make you happy”

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 by No comments yet

My neighbor Greg Fanslow posted this on Front Porch Forum just now…

Something happened to our outlooks when we moved to the Five Sisters last summer. The sense of community seems to make people happier and we literally felt like it was quite contagious. Now there is compelling scientific evidence to show that having happy neighbors is good for you.

Yesterday I came across a recent article in the British Medical Journal that analyzed data from a long term study of 5,124 people from Framingham, Mass. While a lot of previous studies have looked at links between happiness and genetics and socioeconomic factors, this study looked at how peoples’ social connections influence happiness.

And they found that the happiness of your next door neighbors is a stronger predictor of your own happiness than any other significant relationships. Incredibly neighbors have a bigger effect than spouses!

The study concluded that:
– If a friend who lives within a mile of you becomes happy, it increases your chances of being happy by 25%
– if your coresident spouse becomes happy, your chances increase by 8%
– if your sibling living within a mile becomes happy your chances increase by 14%
– if your coworkers are happy, it has no effect on your happiness.
– if your NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR becomes happy, your chances increase by (drum roll please….) a whopping 34%!

So that’s right. If you have a grumpy coworker, it might be a nice thing to try and brighten their day, but you won’t benefit from your efforts very much. On the other hand, if your neighbor is feeling down in the dumps, it’s clearly worth it to cheer them up!

All that said, in spite of the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, I plan to continue being accommodating and cheerful with my wife, Yolanda– just to be safe.

For the full article, see:

Greg seems like a fairly happy guy… good for me!  I’ll try to return the favor.

Front Porch Forum in Two Slides

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 by No comments yet

Here’s Front Porch Forum boiled down to two slides…

“next Buddha will take the form of a community”

Posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 by No comments yet

Janet, a Front Porch Forum member in Burlington, shared this quote yesterday…

“The next Buddha will not take the form of an  individual.  The next Buddha will take the form of a community; a community practicing understanding and loving  kindness, a community practicing mindful living.  This may  be the most important thing we can do for the survival of  the Earth.”  –Thich Nhat Hanh

I see that it’s all over the internet, but I can’t easily find the original source.  I seem to recall hearing Thich Nhat Hanh in an overheated and overflowing UVM gymnasium a decade ago.  Not sure why memories from age 12 are crystal clear, but those from 32 are so foggy.

Neighbors can be there through good times and bad

Posted on Monday, December 8, 2008 by No comments yet

Not all Front Porch Forum stories are about good news.  From Joanna today…

A sad story, but Front Porch Forum made it just a bit less so.  Our cat disappeared on Halloween and we were worried.  A neighbor posted on FPF that they had found a cat matching Rinster’s description, which had been hit by a car.   The people who found him were kind, thoughtful, and understanding.  I am so grateful that we did not spend days or weeks wondering what had happened, and that we were able to mourn and bury him.  Thank you for being there.