How many people have we heard from who want to blast their political message across a wide swath of Front Porch Forum? Too many to count.
It makes sense. FPF has a huge local audience and Town Meeting Day is March 2… less than a week away. Candidates, political parties, advocacy groups… they all are working to get the word out about their issue, their campaign.
But at its core, FPF isn’t about blasting out a single message to thousand of local homes. It’s about neighborhood-level conversation. Any local resident may join the single FPF neighborhood forum where he/she lives and post to his/her heart’s content. (FPF is available in 25 Vermont towns.)
Most people are glad to read items from their clearly identified nearby neighbors… then continue the conversations on the sidewalk or at the local store or school. FPF members seem less excited about reading one-way bulk postings from non-nearby neighbors.
Case in point… a Burlington resident who opposes a ballot measure to repeal Instant Runoff Voting. She asked FPF to broadcast her posting across many of Burlington’s nearly 40 online neighborhood forums. We declined and encouraged her to post it on her “home” neighborhood forum and ask friends in other neighborhoods to forward her message.
She took our advice and now we see her message popping up all over the city, and in each case it has a lead-in sentence from the friend stating their agreement with her position. So now thousands of potential voters are getting the message, each with an extra pitch from a nearby neighbor… very effective. “Best advocacy tool in town,” is how she put it.
And the original advocate had to convince dozens of friends across town to help her get her message out. This is democracy! Just the opposite of big money buying elections through mass media.
Indeed, I answered a knock on my door this morning and found a neighbor returning a borrowed pan. We took the opportunity to discuss the merits of the IRV-repeal ballot measure for five minutes, each getting a little more food for thought before our respective moments in the voting booth next Tuesday. A great use of Front Porch Forum!