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.
Want to put your coding skills to great use for a successful mission-driven Vermont organization? Help us deliver high-quality software as you develop new features and maintain the Front Porch Forum web and mobile apps.
We’re hiring a full-time, primarily remote, full-stack developer to be part of our seasoned tech team and growing staff of two dozen employees.
“Deb Roy, director of the M.I.T. Center for Constructive Communication and former chief media scientist at Twitter,… believes that the potential for a healthy social media exists — he points to Front Porch Forum, the heavily moderated, highly localized platform for people who live in Vermont. But it’s notable that his best example is something so small, quirky and relatively low-tech. Sure, there are ways of communicating over the internet that don’t promote animosity, but probably not with the platforms that are now dominant.“
“[FPF] users say that while most of the internet ‘is like a fire hose of information and communication, Front Porch Forum is like slow drip irrigation.’ While many of the most popular social networks need to scale to perform for investors, which relies on moving fast and breaking things, Front Porch Forum could be described as a site for moving slowly and fixing things.”
“Ian Bogost makes a good argument in The Atlantic for legislators or regulators setting speed and volume limits on sites like Facebook. Getting the tuning right won’t be simple, but in the same way that we’ve come up with safety rules for all kinds of products, we need them for social media. I’d start by looking at what has worked for a platform like Front Porch Forum, and try limiting the size of people’s ‘friend’ lists and the speed of comments.”
Here’s an update on FPF’s situation as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold for all of us. The big picture:
FPF usage is up across the state
Our team is solid and working hard
We’ve stabilized our short-term finances
We are innovating on many fronts to strengthen local communities
FPF usage is up across the state. Vermonters are making more use of FPF during the pandemic than ever before. Posting volume is up 42% and new-member sign-ups are up 83% compared to the same period last year. We are seeing many different ways that neighbors are using FPF for crisis response, including:
Neighbor helping neighbor: Many requests for help being made and fulfilled
Community organizing: People using FPF to organize mutual aid and services of all kinds
Information sharing: Public officials, healthcare facilities, and others disseminating essential information
Staying connected: Combating isolation during this time of social distancing
We’ve stabilized our short-term finances. While the future remains uncertain, we now are confident that FPF will weather the crisis intact. Steps taken include:
Austerity measures: We cut and delayed spending aggressively starting March 1.
Sales revenue: We’ve worked intently with our small-business advertisers to help them with their goals while staying affordable.
Member donations: We’re grateful for a tremendous response to our brief request for donations from our members in late March.
SBA loans: We have applied for SBA loans and are awaiting news.
Our team is solid and working hard. In response to the health and economic crisis, we have made several changes to both our operations and our service:
Protecting FPF staff: We closed our central office and switched to 100% remote work. Additionally, we have been able to avoid layoffs and pay cuts.
Keeping Vermonters informed: We created new features in our software to make it easier for our members to find coronavirus-related information. We also removed posting limits for government officials, hospitals and social services regarding crisis-related messages. And we are aggressively screening out misinformation related to coronavirus.
Facilitating neighbor-helping-neighbor: We continually are taking steps to reach more Vermonters and to encourage mutual aid-type postings. We also are in conversation with groups across the state that are working to increase volunteer efforts.
Helping small businesses and nonprofits: We dropped our advertising prices by 38% across the board. We removed monthly posting limits for any messages related to the crisis, including changes to business hours, delivery services, etc. We are promoting “buy local” to our 180,000 members.
Building social capital and community resiliency: We built a new feature to frequently promote examples of neighbor connection to all our members during this time of social isolation.
We are innovating on many fronts. Looking forward past the crisis-response stage to the recovery phase, FPF will focus on making Vermont communities ever more resilient by:
Building social capital among neighbors: Helping neighbors connect and build community will remain the heart of FPF’s work.
Strengthening local economies: We will support the 10,000 small businesses that participate on FPF by enhancing their connection with customers.
Supporting local social safety nets: We will continue to work with grassroots mutual-aid efforts, nonprofits, and government agencies to strengthen supports in every community across the state.
Enhancing civic engagement and local democracy: We are developing additional ways for Vermonters to become more involved in the civic life of their local communities. We are also exploring options for giving public officials new tools to engage with neighbors post-crisis.
Elevating local journalism: We will expand our efforts with local news publishers to bring their work to a larger audience and enhance their viability.
Strengthening FPF: We aim to make FPF stronger as we move forward through growth, product innovation, tech resiliency enhancements, creative partnerships, and more.
As a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation, FPF’s goal is to help Vermonters stay connected and build community throughout this crisis and beyond. We welcome feedback and ideas about how FPF can be of service in this time of need.
Front Porch Forum is seeking an Intermediate or Senior-level Developer to join our team. The position is full-time and based in Burlington (remote optional). Be part of a world-class team of engineers. Help us fulfill our community-building mission.
His first two points in his summary map onto our thinking of Big Tech vs. Front Porch Forum…
““ Social media is often not very good for us as citizens in a democracy. That shouldn’t surprise us, as it wasn’t designed to be a space for civic discourse ““ it was designed to capture our attention and our personal data for use in targeting ads.
““ If we wanted media that was good for democratic societies, we’d need to build tools expressly designed for those goals.
Additionally, “a vast majority of respondents said they had a computer and used (1) the internet, (2) email and (3) Front Porch Forum, while just over half of all respondents said they used social media.”
In town after town across Vermont we see a similar trend with seniors and local folks of all ages… the “vast majority” of people tune into their local FPF. Your neighbors are talking on FPF… join the conversation!