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FPF’s Response to the Coronavirus Crisis

Here’s an update on FPF’s situation as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold for all of us.  The big picture:  

  1. FPF usage is up across the state
  2. Our team is solid and working hard
  3. We’ve stabilized our short-term finances
  4. 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.


VT Benefit Corp Seeking Full-Stack Developer

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.

Click here for details.




“I’ll stick with Front Porch Forum”

Cindy in Westford shared with her neighbors yesterday…

I recently posted a query for someone to give us quotes on a culvert installation. I was overwhelmed by the number of responses I got – both recommendations and direct outreach from providers.

Where else but FPF does this kind of neighborly conversation happen?

Please consider supporting this magic with a donation – every little bit helps.

BTW – just my opinion, but I recently gave Home Advisor a try, and, well, never again. I’ll stick with Front Porch Forum.

Thanks, neighbors.

Thank you, Cindy!



Poll: Two-thirds of Americans want to break up companies like Amazon and Google

Interesting article by Vox today.  Some key take-aways…

 


Peach theft in North Bennington… brings out the best in neighbors

An FPF member’s peach tree was stripped of fruit in Bennington County recently, so she posted to her neighbors… then followed up a couple days later:

Normally I would say North Bennington is about the nicest place to live. But today I discovered that someone stole all the peaches from my one brand new peach tree. REALLY, how lousy can one be? I do not think there were enough peaches to prevent anyone from starving, but I was looking forward to a tiny peach pie after the first year of carefully tending my tree. To make it worse, the thief broke the branches of the little tree in their haste. There are enough reasons to doubt the humanity of our world these days, and this experience is just totally disheartening. Shame on you, thief.
• Christine, North Bennington

What an outpouring of caring comments following my Front Porch Forum posting! I think more people wrote me wonderful notes about my peach loss, than there were actually peaches on the tree! Some thought it was a bear, some said squirrels, some said hungry people, and some just felt badly about the whole thing. But it has all come around and I feel surrounded by very special people, so thank you all. I think I”ll plant several more trees next year, and let life happen. thanks!
• Christine, North Bennington


Expressing gratitude… make it count!

See something you really appreciate in your local community?  Post a “thank you” to your neighbors via FPF…

Jay, Anne, and all who contributed to the flowers in the villages. They are soooo nice, well kept, and send a welcoming invitation to anyone passing through, including us locals. Beautiful pots and lovely flowers all summer long. THANK YOU!
• Beth & Jerry, Cambridge FPF

I drive through Cambridge Village on my way to work and have been admiring the yellow flowers in the pots. What a lovely welcoming combination of colors. Very unique. I was trying to decide who to send a thank you to and thought perhaps the town clerk . But what a good idea to reach a lot of people here on Front Porch Forum. Thanks so much for the colorful welcome to your village.
• Charlene, Belvidere Center


Carpool forming in the Islands via FPF

Carpools can save money and time, reduce your environmental impact, and help make friendly connections in your community.  Many Vermonters use Front Porch Forum to start their carpools, like Anne below…

Just checking in to see if there’s any commuters to Plattsburgh from Alburgh or Isle La Motte area. I drove into work today and there were six Vermont cars going over the bridge to enter New York and we all got off around the same exit towards Plattsburgh. Do you want to save money and share the drive? Just let me know. It can be very flexible on days that people can’t carpool, no worries, but at least you’re saving gas and sharing the driving.
• Anne, Isle La Motte