Front Porch Forum members are organizing gardeners to share their extra produce this summer with neighbors who are in need.
“If you have a veggie garden, and as you find yourself with more produce than you can use in the coming months, I’m hoping you might donate it. Local food pantries welcome produce from home gardeners. My plan is to harvest extra produce as I have it and take it to one of them. It doesn’t need to be a lot every fresh little bit helps. Just grow and give.” • Karen in East Montpelier
“We just put out a Little Free Greenhouse & Seed Library in front of our house. If you have extra veggie starts or seeds to exchange, please consider contributing them to the greenhouse and library for others to take. There will also be free wildflower bouquets for the taking from time to time. There are some lettuce starts in the greenhouse at the moment as well. Please take whatever you need and contribute what you can.” • Allegra in Burlington
Ready to start something similar in your town? Post on FPF!
COVID-19 is forcing everyone to adapt. An essential part of that adaptation is the use of technology to keep people connected without the face-to-face risk factors the coronavirus presents. Micah Sifry of Civic Hall observes the many challenges we all face as we navigate a global pandemic and the tech solutions that may help us move forward.
Sifry identifies Front Porch Forum as digital public infrastructure that can help communities thrive. See the excerpt below.
“In all my years of reporting on how we use tech in civic life, one platform has stood out for how it has successfully fostered healthy community engagement while reaching significant scale: Vermont’s Front Porch Forum. Seventy percent of the state’s 260,000 households have an account on one of FPF’s local town or neighborhood forums, which are in every part of the rural state. Two years ago, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released an in-depth study of FPF’s users, finding that their daily use of the site led to increased trust in their neighbors, increased interest in civic life, greater participation in local government, and increased optimism about the future. ‘Witnessing everyday acts of neighborliness is a powerful driver of both online and offline community engagement,’ the study concluded.
Last week, I checked in with its founder Michael Wood-Lewis and his chief innovation officer, Jason Van Driesche, to find out how they are weathering the current storm. After a brief dip in the site’s fortunes when the state went into lockdown in March, they were happy to report that even though no one was posting yard sales or local events, the type of information that has always been FPF’s bread-and-butter, user engagement was up. The number of net new signups per day doubled during the first weeks of the crisis, and posting is up considerably over the seasonable average, along with open rates.
Wood-Lewis and Van Driesche are also gratified to report that people are using the forum’s daily email bulletins to organize help for neighbors, share vital public health information, and fight isolation. They’ve decided to have their paid community moderators screen out misinformation about COVID, which Wood-Lewis said is ‘usually people getting stuff off of Facebook and sharing it with good intentions.’ They’re working on an array of service improvements, and also thinking hard about how to support the 10,000 local businesses, thousands of local officials and hundreds of nonprofits that use the site. ‘On a daily basis, most of the people in our state are giving us five to ten minutes of their attention,’ Wood-Lewis noted. But he and his team are frustrated that so much of FPF’s core mission, which is to bring neighbors together face-to-face, is stymied by the pandemic. ‘We know we’re successful when those real in-person things happen,’ he adds, so his team is trying to highlight local initiatives like safe scavenger hunts for kids and community claps for frontline workers.
Front Porch Forum’s model works because it keeps its forums to human size and speed, and it has paid moderators perusing every post before they reach subscribers. A typical instance has 500 to 1,000 people on it, all from the same town or neighborhood, and all verified, using their real names. Everyone sees the same content at the same time, Van Driesche pointed out; there’s no microtargeting of content. So while people still are people, and they may post things that get on their neighbors’ nerves, the general tenor of the site is ‘let’s pull together instead of knocking each other down.‘”
Read the full article here.
We couldn’t agree more with one of our state representatives who shared words of hope on FPF:
“Looking east over Missisquoi Bay, I see a panorama that includes Jay Peak, Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield, big gray bumps in a blue horizon. To my left is Chapman Bay and a green strip of Canada. A northeasterly breeze creates a chop with occasional whitecaps on the water. In the distance a white-hulled fishing boat creates its own whitecaps with its spreading wake.
The thermometer reads 72º, but the breeze coming off the water feels cooler.
This morning I threw a line in the water and caught a fish on the second cast. Lucky.
The crabapple tree in the yard has flowered. All over the area flowering trees and bushes provide bright splashes of white, purple and pink against the spring-fresh green of new leaves.
Four pairs of Canada geese swim past, each couple with babies, 11 goslings in all.
It is a lovely day in Vermont.
It’s nice to be reminded that natural rhythms go on with little regard for the turmoil we create among ourselves. It’s also a reminder of a major reason why we choose to live here.
We need to take care of this state and its people.” • Tommy, State Representative, Washington-3, Barre
Children grown, grandchildren too
Too much stuff, so what to do?
I’ll sell the crib, lego and bike,
Then I can buy that dress I like!
You want to share news of a bear,
A barn sale, concert, country fair
Lear how to hunt a good mushroom
Find a painter for your room
You need to get a ride to Lansing
Or new partner for some dancing
You say you need a plumber SOON
Ask “The Forum” and he’s there by noon!
I think you get the picture now
You know the “why”, find out the “how”.
And don’t forget “There’s no free lunch”,
Donate to help the Front Porch bunch!” • Alison in Charlotte, Vt.
Change is afoot. Front Porch Forum is glad to present a new and improved Email Forum design today.
The daily FPF Email Forum has a new look. At the same time, we’re keeping all the content and functionality that members have come to appreciate in place and easy to use.
This redesign is one step in a series of upgrades that FPF is making to deliver the highest quality service to our members. The new, simplified layout of the Email Forum is designed to make postings shine. We’ve also made it easier to compose postings, search the posting archive and more!
Other recent steps we’ve taken to improve our service:
Already we’ve seen how these milestones and changes have helped us to fulfill our mission across the state in Vermont and in growing upstate New York forums. As the weeks go on, we look forward to sharing news on the additional updates and new features we’ll be rolling out to better serve you and our communities. Next up… redesign of our website, including the posting archive and Web Forum.
Stay tuned for details about these and other exciting new features and updates. We eager to share our progress!
For more information on FPF’s growth and community impact over recent years, check out the following pieces:
With many of us finding more time on our hands, what better opportunity to reflect on ourselves and how we fit into the fabric of our communities? Keep reading to take in a beautiful reflection on the past, giving items a second life, and giving and receiving as part of a close-knit community. We are so grateful to witness these kinds of exchanges on Front Porch Forum!
“I don’t know why it does, since I have known it since moving to Vermont, but I am nevertheless continually surprised by the kindness, thoughtfulness and genuine humanity of our small community of people here. I grew up in South Africa as a privileged white person in the days of the Apartheid regime. But I worked for many years before leaving, as a teacher in the indigenous community that surrounded my home. And from them I learned (amongst other things) how to make something out of very little and always reuse anything that could have another life somehow.
And so, over the years I have developed a passion of my own for finding a use for things that someone else no longer has a use for.
Each time I have posted here, looking for something that might replace going out and buying another new “whatever”, I have received such wonderful responses and I want people to know how heartwarming and reassuring this has been. Particularly now in these times of such uncertainty and personal insecurity.
So thank you to those of you who have been so forthcoming, not just with physical objects, but with ideas, suggestions and perspectives that have all been so helpful. I will probably continue to post here when I think I might need something for our new garden or chicken project.
And of course I am constantly reading the posts of other people’s searches, to see if I could be on the other end, and find a home for something I no longer need.
My wife says that this is a part of me deeply engrained and unlikely to change, something regarding leopards and spots. I think I agree with her.“ • Allen in Ferrisburgh, Vt.
Do you have an observation or reflection to share with your neighbors? Do you have something to give away or that you’re seeking for a project? Post about it on FPF!
The little things count, especially when the going gets tough. Being kind, friendly, or considerate toward our neighbors can make all the difference. Read this excellent metaphor shared by an FPF member about being courteous during difficult times, or when in tight spaces!
“Anyone who has gone through a covered bridge appreciates Covered Bridge Courtesy.
People, who can be total strangers, back up, stop, blink their head lights, wave. Signal, “you first.” Basically, acknowledge each other in that tight space. Then we get on with our lives.
And now, we find ourselves in a tight space again. Big Time.
The quarantines, stay in place orders, the uncertainty, have created a collective anxiety. It does matter how we feel about it. Life, like that bridge, will likely be a tight space for some time.
And guess what – we are waving at each other more. We see it driving around. The finger flick off the wheel, or eye contact, or the double whammy of both at the same time. Whoa – that was good.” • Stuart and Patti in Charlotte, Vt.
Have you seen examples like “covered bridge courtesy” in your neighborhood? Tell your neighbors about it on Front Porch Forum!
When in doubt, ask your neighbors on FPF! You can help strengthen your community by being there for your neighbors with ideas, creativity, and kindness, but also by asking for ideas and suggestions in return. Read below to see how one Jericho neighbor reached out to be a part of a community effort.
“At the beginning of this “stay at home” order, I was very creative, painting and crafting and baking all sorts of things. Since the days, weeks and months have passed, I’ve found it very difficult to maintain this.. I thought if I reached out to the community for ideas, maybe we could all collaborate on a community project to encourage each other and lift spirits. I’ve only gotten as far as “Painting rocks” to leave where they might be found, but if anyone has a more expansive idea, feel free to share. Perhaps we can pool our ideas and talents and create something inspiring and beautiful together.” • Sarah in Jericho, Vt.
Looking for some input on your next project? Post your idea on Front Porch Forum!