At FPF, we don’t see how many off-Forum replies members get to their postings. We see a lot of responses in individual Forums, or we get hints, like the one below, revealing just how much activity is happening off the Forum between members.
“My recent request for hearing aid recommendations was a rousing success. 30+ people responded! (Costco was the overwhelming favorite.) Thanks one and all.” • Fred in Brandon
Wow! And, no, Costco did not pay us to share this 😉
Even as extremism and disinformation have pushed their way into political discourse across the United States over the past several years, Vermonters continue to use Front Porch Forum to engage in constructive conversation leading up to Town Meeting Day and local elections.
Here are some recent unsolicited FPF postings from various parts of the state:
“As a born-and-bred Vermonter recently returning to the state after 40 years of military and government service, I stand in awe as an observer of the vibrant discourse leading up to today and of the democratic process kept alive by the good citizens of Calais. … Today was my first town meeting, and I’m almost 60 years old. We are honored to finally get to join you. So regardless of who wins or loses today, please be thankful that you have a democratic process to be part of and a way of life worth fighting for. I can tell you that the majority of the people in our country can’t conceive of this level of belonging.” – Ross in Calais
“I am very impressed with the extent of the debate about reviving our local police force, whether for or against. This is a public forum, and I have learned a lot by reading the opinions of others. This is America, and ideally we should approach issues with civility and respect. Kudos to all who have expressed their insights in like fashion.” – Nancy in Randolph
“I would like to express appreciation to the moderators of Front Porch Forum. You have been the gatekeepers of civil discourse among neighbors passionately exercising their freedom of speech.” – Joan in South Hero
“On the eve of Town Meeting I’m reminded once more of the countless hours our Town Clerk and members of the Selectboard have given to Calais these past years, and, in some cases, decades. Many thanks to them all as well as to the incoming group.” – Nel in Calais
“FPF is doing us a valuable public service by publishing [these] letters. It lowers candidates’ costs so that it is not only the wealthy that can successfully run for office. It informs voters about the issues involved and where each candidate stands on those issues. It also serves to keep candidates honest or at least on their toes by pointing out missteps – normal campaign protocol. Finally, it is only a short period of time that this happens prior to elections. That is how democracy works.” – Raymond in South Burlington
“This is way better than putting signs everywhere. It’s actually green, as compared to signs. Please vote, I do appreciate the sentiments for your candidates. Voting, if you have not, allows you to complain… all the best!” – Dahan in Grand Isle
FPF has helped people find their cats, dogs, keys, wallets, and even livestock, but this is a new one. Carol in Burlington writes…
“Our little iRobot vacuum cleaner was cleaning off our porch and wandered down the ramp and perhaps down the driveway. It’s a robot vacuum cleaner about 3-4 inches tall and about 12-14 inch diameter. It is grey and black. Now he is MIA. If you saw our little friend please let us know.“
“Yea, Front Porch Forum is the best! To the person who saw the [post] about our missing vacuum cleaner and showed his friend, who had found it, our previous post – thanks! You both are awesome for returning it to us. Roomba, aka “Creepy,” is now grounded. Bad robot. Great neighbors, however.“
Neighbors engage in productive, meaningful discussions every day on Front Porch Forum in communities all across Vermont. In addition to finding lost dogs, selling used bikes, and recommending mechanics, FPF is a popular place to tackle local issues in respectful and neighborly ways.
For example, Connie shared on her Williston Forum this week…
“I am very grateful to FPF for allowing all of us the opportunity to vent mutual concerns and come together as a group to discuss potential ways to resolve these shared concerns. Thank you FPF!!! I now don’t feel alone in my discontent and I have learned new ways to address the USPS issues. Our shared concerns matter. Let’s keep communicating!”
Leslie Stebbins was quoted in a recent Salon article, “Our digital public spaces aren’t so healthy… Can we fix that?” (read full article here) that…
“Tech companiesmaintain that they cannot moderate online communities because that would jeopardize our right to free speech and because there is simply too much content flying across these networks to track. Both these issues are false flags. We now know that the core infrastructure of these platforms is intentionally designed to amplify vitriol and misinformation because this increases engagement, keeps us online longer, and provides tech companies with billions of dollars from ad revenue. It doesn’t have to be this way.“
Further, Stebbins adds, “We should focus on creating new spaces that have explicit civic goals and are designed for equity and social cohesion. Real-world communities need to be involved in intentionally designing their own local digital public spaces rather than leaving this work to global tech companies.”
Front Porch Forum gets a nice spotlight in the article…
“Front Porch Forum […] focuses on real world community building. It is the antithesis of Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. Rather than try to keep users online, it strives to get people offline and more connected to their local Vermont neighbors. Most people spend five or ten minutes a day online to get news that their neighbors have posted: lost dogs, bake sales and announcements of upcoming school board meetings. It is funded by donations and local ads based on where someone lives, but it does not track user behavior and advertising does not drive platform design.“
“Independent research on Front Porch [Forum] shows that it builds social cohesion and is improving the resilience of local Vermont communities. Building stronger community cohesion produces many intangible benefits such as high civic engagement, more instances of neighbors helping neighbors, and lower crime rates.“
Everyday across Vermont, neighbors come together to fix problems, have fun, talk, and share. Increasingly, they use their local Front Porch Forum to get the conversation started. Here are some recent examples…
In Essex Town and Essex Junction this week, neighbors are meeting at the local police station to organize neighborhood watches in response to property crime incidents. Notices for this meeting reached 10,377 FPF members out of the 9,310 households in these communities!
In Charlotte, folks there are using their FPF to organize a backgammon league. The member’s posting below reached 4,037 FPF members in a town with 1,499 households!
“Yahoo!…FPF is terrific for connecting with neighbors. So far we have 23 people on the list of backgammon players eager to launch a league at the Charlotte Senior Center!” – Sally
In Morrisville, one neighbor is looking to find a local running group. Shannon’s posting reached 4,852 FPF members in a town with 2,810 households!
“Hello! I am new to Morrisville, and am looking to connect with other runners. Are there any established running groups in the area?”– Shannon
How about in your town or neighborhood? Any new hobbies or meetups popping up? If you’re trying to get people together, Join FPF (if you don’t already have a free account)! Click compose and post your message to nearby neighbors.
Two days before Christmas, Vermont braced itself for a Nor’easter. The storm brought snow, ice, rain, and strong winds taking out power in many parts of the state. In Middlesex the Town Clerk turned to Front Porch Forum to share daily emergency info and updates.
Later, members wrote in applauding their Town Clerk and all the utility workers that got them through the storm. We’re impressed by all of them, too! Here are some highlights…
Appreciation for the Town Clerk: “Many thanks, Sarah! Aren’t we Middlesexers (?) Middlesexites (?) fortunate to have a Town Clerk who is always watching out for us? The link she just sent provides a wealth of information to help us understand what we’re facing with the coming storm. It’s scary, but Sarah has made sure we’re prepared. Brava!” •Jeri
Appreciation for utility workers: “Sending a HUGE shout out to the Washington Electric Coop crews who worked through a horrible stretch of weather to get power back to 5,000+ customers in our region. It’s easy to take the luxury of our electricity for granted… until you lose it for nearly 2 days. For those without any back-up heat, this must have been brutal. Thank you, thank you WEC and Merry Christmas to all!” •Linda
Appreciation for neighbors: “Thank you to our wonderful neighbors. I received several offers of help to get through the time until we have electric again. We were able to secure quite a number of gallons of water today so we could do dishes and flush the toilet probably for the next couple of days and hopefully by then we will have electricity. Once again, we are very grateful for all of the offers of help we received” •Carol
Appreciation for FPF: “Thanks for being there for our community. It sure has been a lifesaver for some during the power outages in Middlesex.” •Another FPF member
We are always impressed to see how neighbors come together to navigate difficult situations. Storms like these are what FPF and Vermont community is for!