Modern civilization may be swell, giving us unimaginable autonomy and material bounty. But it has also deprived us of the psychologically invaluable sense of community and interdependence that we hominids enjoyed for millions of years. It is only during moments of great adversity that we come together and enjoy that kind of fellowship which may explain why, paradoxically, we thrive during those moments. (In the six months after Sept. 11, Mr. Junger writes, the murder rate in New York dropped by 40 percent, and the suicide rate by 20 percent.)
War, too, for all of its brutality and ugliness, satisfies some of our deepest evolutionary yearnings for connectedness. Platoons are like tribes. They give soldiers a chance to demonstrate their valor and loyalty, to work cooperatively, to show utter selflessness. Is it any wonder that so many of them say they miss the action when they come home?
As a former anthropology major, Mr. Junger takes a special interest in tribal life. He notes that a striking number of American colonists ran off to join Native American societies, but the reverse was almost never true. He describes the structure and values of hunter-gatherer groups, including the ones that lasted well into the 20th century, like the !Kung in the Kalahari.
FPF’s mission is to help neighbors connect and build community. We work toward that mission by hosting a Vermont-wide network of online neighborhood / town forums where people find lost pets, sell cars, give away couches, seek rides to the airport, ask for plumber recommendations, borrow ladders, find part-time jobs, organize block parties, attract crowds for community meetings and events, debate school budgets, and more. And all of this occurs daily among clearly identified nearby neighbors, building connections. Counter to our national trend toward individual isolation, for an increasing number of Vermonters, their neighbors form a healthy part of their tribe.
“A couple of months ago, a community member in my town posted on our Front Porch Forum an invitation for neighbors to gather in questioning how we can become more organized, informed and better able to rapidly respond to current social issues. From that one post, about 40 people showed up. We squeezed into the old South Newfane School House and began an important conversation. Out of this gathering, we are now defining the contours of what we want to do as a group and how to effectively connect with other grassroots efforts in our state. At the last meeting we invited our local legislators and many showed up. FPF has been instrumental by creating the infrastructure that has allowed such a level of individual activism and organization to occur.”
• Heidi, Newfane Townshend FPF
When it’s time to get organized in your community, start with FPF.
“Recently our State Senator posted on FPF about a Public Hearing. I am so thankful to have an easy and bipartisan way to hear about local government issues.
“This posting was a perfect use of Front Porch Forum. No matter your political opinion, it is important to understand what is going on in our local government.
“I encourage all of our elected leaders to use FPF to announce opportunities to effect change! Remember that they are working for us and we deserve democracy. Think global, act local!”
—Chloe, Williston FPF
Ask your legislators to use FPF to keep you tuned in about what’s going on in the State house.
… social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.
I’ve been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.
Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.
Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside…
One reason why Front Porch Forum is text-based.
“Dear friends – A few days ago, I posted on our Front Porch Forum asking if anyone might be willing to share some fresh sage leaves with us — Jasmine and I were making food for friends and I’d run out of fresh leaves. I thought maybe one or two folks might be willing to help.
“Fifteen of you replied — several within minutes — offering to share your abundance with us. I’m sure that several more FPF readers have been thinking “oh, I need to email that guy about the sage plant!”
“It was really touching to see people reaching out with practical help.
“I’ve been feeling pretty despondent about the polarization I’ve seen in our nation over the last months and, particularly, the last week. It’s clear that we have a lot of reaching out to do, and a lot of working to understand each other, if we’re to get through the next parts of our nation’s history.
“I believe that connections between real people are absolutely critical to finding consensus and building resilience, and that those connections thrive in an atmosphere where people share and help each other.
“Thank you, friends, for reminding me that I live in one of those places.”
• Hollis, Burlington neighborhood FPF
“Thank you to the dozen or so neighbors who emailed personal notes of appreciation for my post on last week’s Really Big Thing that happened.
“I take Front Porch Forum literally for its ‘front porch-ness.’ So when a Really Big Thing happens — like a storm, crash, or national tragedy — the first place I want to go is the front porch. To look around the neighborhood and ask, ‘How’re you doing? Everybody in your house okay?’ And if possible, offer any solace or help.
“I understand why some folks wouldn’t want national politics on our local Front Porch Forum. But last Tuesday’s election left many in our community reeling.
“I think it’s important to recognize this and resist the urge to limit what can and cannot be said here. If for no other reason than to support our neighbors who might have been left feeling particularly vulnerable.”
• James, posted on a Burlington neighborhood FPF
“Good deeds are often overlooked. Yesterday, while working at the polls, a mother came in with her three or four children with bags and bags of food for the food shelf. They filled up two blue boxes, and, when asked why so much, the reply was that it was a birthday party that gave food instead of presents. My thought was that it must have been one of the older kids who would understand what they were giving up. When asked whose birthday it was, it was the youngest one with a big smile pointing to herself.”
• Phyllis, Shelburne Front Porch Forum
I know this election has shaken up a lot of people on both sides of the debate. One thing I see happening more than anything else is an inability for people to communicate and have empathy towards those with different views. It is sad, though luckily for us in Vermont it isn’t nearly as bad as some other places in this country.
I have set a goal for myself to sit down with someone with a differing perspective than my own, share a drink (whatever it may be) and to just listen a bit. I am not out to make a debate. Nor to talk at someone else. But I do want to know about what a Trump supporter sees as the biggest issues in their world, what about Trump inspires them, and what about him may be concerning. I also want that same person to hear someone who is different than them actually giving a shit about their opinion, in an effort to bridge the divide that the media says we all have.
This is an act of reconciliation and hope. I want to see us rise above our political differences. We are all in this together.
• Jake, Morrisville Front Porch Forum
“Drone flying late at night – if you are flying your drone right now in the First Avenue/Hubbard Street area- knock it off. It’s 10:40 pm and completely disrespectful to be hovering drones outside people’s bedroom windows. This was not a mere flyby, but extended hovering.”
• Stephen, Montpelier Front Porch Forum
“This post was disturbing. I didn’t realize it was legal for people to fly drones around other peoples’ property, let along hovering near windows. Can the City comment on this re regulation or someone from the state comment if there is state legislation? Thanks.”
• Kathy, Montpelier FPF
“It’s legal to use a shotgun here in Montpelier to hunt.Pretty easy to blast it ! lol”
• John, Montpelier FPF
“It may be legal to shoot a shotgun in Montpelier, but downright stupid to fire into the air. What goes up also comes down with the possibility of injury to property or people.”
• Ken, Montpelier FPF
“We’ve been following the report of drone use in the city and have received a few direct calls about nuisance or inappropriate use. We’re compiling information from the Federal Aviation Administration and Vermont Agency of Transportation regarding the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) to shared at a later date. Please see the FAA website on drones below: https://www.faa.gov/uas/ Please contact the Montpelier Police Department if you have a concern about drone use within the city limits so we may respond and investigate. The municipal ordinance regarding the use of firearms in the City of Montpelier is included below and does not permit the use of firearms against drones. ARTICLE V. USE OF FIREARMS, BB GUNS, BOW AND ARROWS, AND SIMILAR WEAPONS. Sec. 11-500. USE OF ARMS. No person shall discharge or fire or cause to be discharged, or fired, any revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, air rifle, BB gun, or other similar firearm or weapon within the limits of the city of Montpelier. This prohibition shall not apply to the use of firearms or weapons by any duly constituted police officer or other public official when such use is reasonably necessary in the performance of his duties as such officer or official; nor shall it apply to the use of shotgun, air rifle, or BB gun, by a hunter in the active pursuit of game, except that such shotgun shall not be used with ammunition containing a single slug, pellet or missile in any one cartridge or shell, nor shall either shotgun or air rifle be discharged within a distance of 200 yards from any building and shooting within 100 yards of an accepted street or highway, and provided further that this ordinance shall not prevent the discharge of firearms on any properly constructed firing range or in the conduct of a contest, shoot, meet, or game when reasonable precautions are taken for the protection of the public safety; nor shall it prevent the use of firearms for the disposal of vermin when permission for such use has been first obtained from the Chief of Police of the City of Montpelier. If you have any questions please contact me…”
• Officer Philbrick, Montpelier Police Dept., Montpelier FPF
“There is no city ordinance that addresses drones per se, but there is one that addresses the use of firearms. Sec. 11-500 of the Montpelier Ordinance Code states: ‘No person shall discharge or fire or cause to be discharged, or fired, any revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, air rifle, BB gun, or other similar firearm or weapon within the limits of the city of Montpelier. This prohibition shall not apply to … the use of shotgun, air rifle, or BB gun, by a hunter in the active pursuit of game, except that such shotgun shall not be used with ammunition containing a single slug, pellet or missile in any one cartridge or shell, nor shall either shotgun or air rifle be discharged within a distance of 200 yards from any building and shooting within 100 yards of an accepted street or highway,…nor shall it prevent the use of firearms for the disposal of vermin when permission for such use has been first obtained from the Chief of Police of the City of Montpelier.’ So it appears that since Montpelier is so densely populated, there are very few places that a firearm can be legally discharged, even in the pursuit of game, because of the compact spacing of homes and streets.”
• Ken, Montpelier FPF
“In lieu of a shotgun maybe get out the hose, press your thumb against the nozzle, and wash it away.”
• Ivan, Montpelier FPF
“DO NOT ATTACK DRONES (unless you are at immediate risk of harm from the device). Unmanned Arial Aircraft is the formal designation for what we commonly call ‘drones’ by the FAA. These drones have specific restrictions on their use, such as line-of-sight operation, service ceiling restrictions, and certain limitations on where they can be operated. They are fully allowed to fly in unrestricted airspace, which generally includes all property over the tips of the grass. The owner who is flying line-of-sight cannot trespass however. They are however FAA protected aircraft with some of the same rights as a small Cessna or Bell helicopter flying over your house. They are federally protected, and damaging, destroying, or attempting to cause harm to any aircraft is a FEDERAL CRIME, the same as shooting at an airplane. Do NOT attempt to damage a Drone when in flight. There are numerous examples of folks attacking drones and, at the very least, having to pay out of pocket for possibly very expensive (>$1000) drones. 15 seconds of spraying water, shooting with a BB Gun, tossing rocks etc at a drone could cost you $1000. Your only recourse is call the police or address the operator/owner. Montpelier has ordinances for disturbing the peace and generating disturbances, and the State has laws against voyeurism.”
• Stan, Montpelier FPF