Cara in the Town of Halifax recently posted the following on her local Front Porch Forum when a neighbor suggested banning political speech on FPF. We love her perspective on this. Read on…
Some postings on FPF concern politics at every level – local (like the 5-person board discussion), state (Article 22) and national (names of parties). FPF *is* a place to have these discussions – there is, after all, a standard category called “election.”
The people in our small communities all share certain values – the ones that lead people who were born here to stay and that lead people who weren’t born here to make it their home.
But we don’t all share the same views, not by a long stretch. The value of FPF is that it makes it possible to find common ground and discover you like or respect people despite the fact that you may wildly disagree on issues.
That’s missing in so many parts of our lives. Let’s not strip it out of FPF, too.
I’ll recommend an episode of the podcast Revisionist History to illustrate the point. It’s hosted by Malcolm Gladwell (FN: If you don’t like him, no worries – I never did before either but it’s a terrific podcast, not glib like so much of his writing). The episode is called “When Will Met Grace” (FN: if you never liked the show, no worries – I never did either but the episode made me appreciate it). Gladwell notes that the show was hated by ultra conservatives and ultra progressives alike. But the show was on one of the four TV networks we all watched, and that resulted in it having a demonstrably moderating effect on private lives and on the national conversation.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to avoid these days. Nowadays, people think they’re achieving that same goal by watching both Fox News and MSNBC, or reading the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. But consuming two extremes isn’t the same as consuming something shared in the middle.
That’s why I love FPF. It doesn’t permit anonymous posts. It’s limited to folks who have planted themselves in a small geographic area. And, most importantly, it caters to everything from lost cats to roofer recommendations to crime reports to asking for help to stack wood to, yes, politics. I like that it’s everything – because in that way, it has the capacity to have a moderating effect on all of our lives in all sorts of ways. I know for a fact that it’s helped me forge a sense of connection and community with people I wouldn’t otherwise have had an opportunity to meet or know if we all veered off into our political silos. Knowing that we have such wildly divergent views on things is important because it’s part of what makes the connection so valuable and ultimately, gives me hope.
We can only control our own conduct. If I don’t jibe with a particular person in the community or with certain views and it bothers me to see some posts? The answer isn’t to tell people to be quiet. The answer is for me to decide I don’t want to listen. But I do listen and I know from personal experience that my world is richer as a result.
I hope everyone will feel free to keep posting and keep all of these conversations going. I agree there’s no room here for hateful political or personal attacks, but just because a view is expressed that one doesn’t agree with doesn’t make it hateful.
Front Porch Forum takes our members’ privacy seriously. When members post to their Forum, they know that what they write will be visible only to the members of their own FPF and of immediate neighboring Forums. This allows members to engage freely in conversation about local issues, which is central to FPF’s community-building mission.
There are a few situations, though, where it might make sense for members’ postings to be more broadly visible. One of these is when a member recommends a local business or nonprofit on their Forum. Recommendations on FPF are an important resource for our members, and making them more broadly available helps support the nearly 12,000 local businesses and nonprofits that are members of FPF.
With this in mind, FPF recently launched a new feature: Recommendation postings for businesses or nonprofits now show up on the business or nonprofit’s listing in FPF’s Community Directory! Those postings are visible to any FPF member who views that listing, even if they aren’t a member of the Forum where the recommendation originated.
So if you are a business owner or nonprofit leader, ask your customers and supporters to post a recommendation for you on their Forum. (While you’re at it, ask them to “favorite” your listing as well!) When it shows up on your Directory listing, FPF’s 220,000 members all over Vermont will be able to see how much FPF members value what you do!
There’s a few great things Vermont is known for… If beer, pigs, and good neighbors aren’t near the top of that list, then we don’t know what is! Members in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom FPFs helped this little pig find its way home.
Stay safe out there piglets!
Sometimes you need just a little bit of something to finish one small project. For this neighbor, it was leftover paint.
Thanks to everyone who donated spray paint for my small projects! What a great way to get rid of unused paint cans. If people are clearing out their garages, consider posting things like this. There’s always someone with a half-finished project that could use your unwanted paint/nails/scraps of wood/etc. What a great forum we have here!
•Catharine in Brandon
Do you love leading growth in a dynamic company? Are community connections and a thriving local economy important to you? FPF wants YOU to join our team! This position will fuel FPF’s work to strengthen communities statewide. Help lead a seasoned team of 24+ VT staff.
Members are joining Front Porch Forum across Vermont every day… We just surpassed 215,000 members in a state with 270,000 households*. That’s a lot of traction!
Do you know anyone in Vermont that’s not on FPF yet? Tell them to sign up at FrontPorchForum.com!
*Household data is from 2020 Census
Ghost of Midnight is an online journal about fostering community within neighborhoods, with a special focus on Front Porch Forum (FPF). My wife, Valerie, and I founded FPF in 2006... read more