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Category Archives: Stories

Reflections on Wandering Chickens and Gardens

With many of us finding more time on our hands, what better opportunity to reflect on ourselves and how we fit into the fabric of our communities? Keep reading to take in a beautiful reflection on the past, giving items a second life, and giving and receiving as part of a close-knit community. We are so grateful to witness these kinds of exchanges on Front Porch Forum!

“I don’t know why it does, since I have known it since moving to Vermont, but I am nevertheless continually surprised by the kindness, thoughtfulness and genuine humanity of our small community of people here. I grew up in South Africa as a privileged white person in the days of the Apartheid regime. But I worked for many years before leaving, as a teacher in the indigenous community that surrounded my home. And from them I learned (amongst other things) how to make something out of very little and always reuse anything that could have another life somehow.

And so, over the years I have developed a passion of my own for finding a use for things that someone else no longer has a use for.

Each time I have posted here, looking for something that might replace going out and buying another new “whatever”, I have received such wonderful responses and I want people to know how heartwarming and reassuring this has been. Particularly now in these times of such uncertainty and personal insecurity.

So thank you to those of you who have been so forthcoming, not just with physical objects, but with ideas, suggestions and perspectives that have all been so helpful. I will probably continue to post here when I think I might need something for our new garden or chicken project.

And of course I am constantly reading the posts of other people’s searches, to see if I could be on the other end, and find a home for something I no longer need.

My wife says that this is a part of me deeply engrained and unlikely to change, something regarding leopards and spots. I think I agree with her. Allen in Ferrisburgh, Vt.

 

Do you have an observation or reflection to share with your neighbors? Do you have something to give away or that you’re seeking for a project? Post about it on FPF!


Covered Bridge Courtesy

The little things count, especially when the going gets tough. Being kind, friendly, or considerate toward our neighbors can make all the difference. Read this excellent metaphor shared by an FPF member about being courteous during difficult times, or when in tight spaces!

Anyone who has gone through a covered bridge appreciates Covered Bridge Courtesy. 

People, who can be total strangers, back up, stop, blink their head lights, wave. Signal, “you first.” Basically, acknowledge each other in that tight space. Then we get on with our lives.

And now, we find ourselves in a tight space again. Big Time.

The quarantines, stay in place orders, the uncertainty, have created a collective anxiety. It does matter how we feel about it. Life, like that bridge, will likely be a tight space for some time.

And guess what – we are waving at each other more. We see it driving around. The finger flick off the wheel, or eye contact, or the double whammy of both at the same time. Whoa – that was good.” • Stuart and Patti in Charlotte, Vt.

Have you seen examples like “covered bridge courtesy” in your neighborhood? Tell your neighbors about it on Front Porch Forum!


Creative Community Coping

When in doubt, ask your neighbors on FPF! You can help strengthen your community by being there for your neighbors with ideas, creativity, and kindness, but also by asking for ideas and suggestions in return. Read below to see how one Jericho neighbor reached out to be a part of a community effort.

“At the beginning of this “stay at home” order, I was very creative, painting and crafting and baking all sorts of things. Since the days, weeks and months have passed, I’ve found it very difficult to maintain this.. I thought if I reached out to the community for ideas, maybe we could all collaborate on a community project to encourage each other and lift spirits. I’ve only gotten as far as “Painting rocks” to leave where they might be found, but if anyone has a more expansive idea, feel free to share. Perhaps we can pool our ideas and talents and create something inspiring and beautiful together.” • Sarah in Jericho, Vt.

Looking for some input on your next project? Post your idea on Front Porch Forum!


The Proverbial Wishing Well

Front Porch Forum is a place where neighbors can come together to discuss anything from local happenings to lost and found items. As this FPF member shares, don’t be afraid to check with your neighbors if you need help with something!

“…even as organizations, we still often find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when communicating what we have or what we need with others; sometimes we don’t want to bug other organizations, and sometimes we worry by offering something, we’ll get ourselves in trouble.

One of the most powerful things about FPF is that it offers a comfortable place for folks to cast out requests to the community — I’ve never heard of anyone get ridiculed for casting hope by dropping their two cents — and when they do, it becomes a lot easier for folks like me to try and help. Some of us are good at making masks, some are good at fixing laptops, some are good at organizing shopping trips for our immunocompromised neighbors — but knowing is half the battle.

Please don’t hesitate to cast a coin into our proverbial wishing well! The community is here to hear you out. Whether you need something or whether you know that your organization needs something, it’s never selfish to ask and see what’s available, especially since more aid could be provided through our community if more people hear more specialized requests. (E.g.: I can’t justify gearing up to go unpack trucks at a food bank, but I know if I spend that time working instead on laptops, the community can get more utility out of it — if only I know who needs them.)” • Martin in South Burlington, Vt.

Cast your coin into the proverbial wishing well today on FPF!


Softening the rough edges

FPF members share how employees and volunteers are going the extra step to provide shopping experiences that now take place by phone and online.

“Yesterday I needed a sympathy card to send to a friend whose husband had died over the weekend. A generic sympathy card wouldn’t do. I called the Adamant Coop and explained what I was looking for. The volunteer who answered the phone talked me through a selection (I had a local artist in mind), walking around the store with phone in hand, describing the images. When I asked her to choose for me, she ran her ideas past a staff member, who concurred. The cards went on my account, the bag on the porch, and half an hour later, they were on my desk.

I am so grateful for these acts of kindness — for the time, the careful listening, the enthusiasm. Gesture by gesture, people are softening the rough edges of our fear and our pain.”  • Karen in East Montpelier

“I am floored by how many of you took the time to make recommendations to me for a tree removal service. Thanks so much. I very much appreciate it.” • Bob in Barnet

Front Porch Forum is the place where you can find everything you need and then some. Recent postings and recommendations have lead me to take advantage of our local talent.”  • Barbara in Waterbury Center


Signs of Spring Arrival

The days are getting longer, crocuses and bluets are springing up from the ground, and birds are returning to the Northeast from their winter vacations: signs of spring! Neighbors are sharing their observations. Have you seen any signs of spring? These FPF members have:

I’m so grateful to be a part of this community in this time. Thanks to you all. Also! I really love spring, and I miss the spring arrivals board at Sterling College. So…I have a poster board at the Genny up for us all to document our observations of spring (bring your own pen). I also created a google doc that I think should be accessible to all to add observations.

Let’s not let the craziness of this spring allow us to miss this gorgeous and amazing time of year!”  • Hannah in Craftsbury, Vt.

Sunrise.

Late-spring snowfall, inspired ways to keep the kids busy, crocuses, and random acts of beauty and neighborly kindness.

Home schooling, long walks.

A creative home desk made from–wait, is that an ironing board?

That’s what Middlesex looks like this spring as we all hunker down to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Check out these creative shots of our community taken by your Middlesex neighbors, at:

https://www.whatsnextmiddlesex.org/calendar–pictures.html

Enjoy!”   • Susan in Middlesex, Vt.

Share your spring sightings and observations on your Front Porch Forum today!


Neighbors celebrate Poetry Month

April is Poetry Month! And FPF members have been writing or sharing favorite poems with their neighbors. One neighborhood in Middlebury even went so far as to write Haikus in chalk along sidewalks! 

Also Highly Contagious Is:
Kindness, Patience, Love, Enthusiasm
and a Positive Attitude…
Don’t wait to catch it from others,
Be the carrier.  • Lynn in Barre

A limerick from Betty in Randolph:
The pandemic is certainly grave
We are told to stay home and behave
We’re all being good.
You KNOW that we would!
Thus the Forum’s become quite the rave!

The chefs, be they local or not,
Should certainly not be forgot!
Food at the curb
Is really
superb.   • Sally in Randolph

A haiku from Kelly & Brooke in Stowe:
In this crazy time
FPF keeps us abreast
Of all local news

Dreaming
by Janet in Randolph Center

The snow’s almost melted away!
Yet at home it seems we must stay.
But flowers WILL bloom
And birdies WILL croon
And keep this scourge away.
The snow’s almost melted away!
Yet at home it seems we must stay.
But flowers WILL bloom
And birdies WILL croon
And bring a bright new day.    


Sharing is Caring!

Supply shortages and photos of bare shelves have been all over the news and social media platforms over the last couple of weeks. Many Front Porch Forum members have taken to their neighborhood forums to share what they can with neighbors in need of this and that. See some inspiring and generous posts below!

 

“I appreciate so much all the offers to help in our community. Please try to use the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund and our Food Shelf as central well-connected mechanisms to help the most people. Another way to help is by buying gift certificates for businesses that are likely to have to close or slow down (though recognize that just spreads out the loss of business). I’d suggest if you are in a position to tip heavily to your local and beloved businesses as appropriate, please do. They have been there for our community, and they are entering a time of massive uncertainty. Another way to help is to donate blood. Most organized blood drives will be closed for concerns of congregating too many folks. If you are healthy (and bored), and can make your way to a donation center, that will be super helpful to our medical system as this pandemic progresses. Covid patients don’t usually need blood products but we will still see the baseline cases of trauma, etc that will need blood and with drives closed we will run out quickly. Science/math-based models suggest this virus will be hitting peak numbers in VT during May/June. We have a little time to get ready. Please settle in for the marathon ahead. I’d welcome any 1000 piece plus puzzles folks have to share! :)” • Amy O. in Waterbury, Vt.

 

Been having fun making tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. For those days when you’re out and about and can’t get easily to a sink and soap. Have placed some in a basket on my front stoop. When the weather is fair-ish. Please feel free to take one.

I’m using 90% alcohol that dilutes down a bit when mixed with aloe vera gel, but still should be super strong. Hand sanitizer kills the virus but doesn’t wash it away. Soap and water are still best for that.

If you have any small bottles, ie the travel sizes, that’s the choke point in the Sue’s Sanitizer pipeline, so it would be most kindly appreciated if you drop them into the same basket.” • Sue S. in Burlington, Vt.

 

“I too would love to offer support as its needed….I am a naturopathic physician, and one thing i can offer is herbal medicine, specifically antiviral tincture which is a boost to the immune system and proactive and protective against viral infection in these trying times. Please get in touch if you would like some to be dropped to your home, if you are in need…(Until it runs out;) Also if you are elderly or at risk and you need extra support in the form of grocery runs or anything like that i can be of service.

Much love in this time of physical distancing! I too cannot wait until the time i can hug my loved ones;)” Casey E. in Middlesex, Vt.

Do you have items, talents, or ideas you are able to share? Or are you in need of something specific? Reach out to your neighbors on FPF today! We’re all in this together.


Nourishing Our Communities

Despite competitive grocery shopping and items running out, countless establishments and community members have stepped up to ensure their communities are nourished during the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some posts from FPF members that may fill your hearts and your bellies:

“When the second Gulf War began in Iraq in the Spring of 2003 and Baghdad was under siege, one of the newspapers (I think that it was the New York Times, but I might be mistaken) published an article about the very last small businesses to stay open to serve the simple Iraqis in the midst of all the chaos, pain and hardship. It was Baghdad’s small local bakeries.

I was so impressed by that, and I clipped the article and stashed it away (I’m sure I still have it somewhere) and this being long before I became a baker myself. The selflessness of the invisible men and women (bakers are mostly night workers) manning those hot ovens in the middle of all that chaos to provide nourishment to the community was more awesome to me than the violence of any airstrikes or advancing coalition armies.

Today, during these uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain determined to serve you, the common men and women who make up the townships of Central Vermont. With our obligation to provide nourishment and with your support of Rise Up Bakery and the other local small businesses, we are together guiding the community through this uninvited wilderness that surrounds us. This in turn will help us to be there to help other local businesses when they can again open their doors.

Our oven remains fired tonight. And we are ever grateful to you, our friends and neighbors of the local community.” • Jim H. in Calais, Vt.

“Hello Waterbury. Nicole and I hope to provide 400 16” Pizzas to the HUUSD and Williston schools. They’ll be passed out to families in need through the school lunch pickup sites. These are Take & Bake style pizzas, like in local grocery stores.

We are hoping to raise $2000 to cover the cost of cheese, etc. If you’re in a position to donate, please consider doing so.

We hope to make the pizzas available as early as 3/27. If your need is more urgent, call or email us and we’ll get you pizza sooner. #NoHungryKids #VermontStrong” • Dan R. in Waterbury, Vt.

 

“Need help with food? Here are some sources of help:

Resources complied by Hunger Free Vermont about WIC, 3SquaresVT (known nationally as SNAP), senior meals and more: https://www.hungerfreevt.org/coronavirus

Hinesburg Community Resource Center Food Shelf information: www.hinesburgresource.org/food-shelf.html

Champlain Valley School District free/reduced school meals (families can apply at any time): https://www.cvsdvt.org/cms/lib/VA02000902/Centricity/Domain/35/LettertoParents_FY20_F_R.pdf” • Rachel K. in Hinesburg, Vt.

 

Countless more businesses, organizations and individuals are using Front Porch Forum to unite with their neighbors and fulfill the needs of their communities. Get involved and find the latest information on your area’s take-out, delivery, grocery, and prepped meal options by joining today.


Creative School Projects at Home

Every day we are hearing more and more serious news about COVID-19. Front Porch Forum members are busy networking to help each other with child care and grocery shopping, sharing news and ideas, and creative learning projects kids can do while school is closed. Below, read about two kids who are preparing to put their academic skills to use in a creative home project.

“Hey Stowe neighbors,

We are in 4th and 2nd grade at Stowe Elementary. We can’t go to school now so we would like to work on a fun and creative outdoor project. The project we chose is to build an Adirondack lean-to like the ones the Civilian Conservation Corps built in the 1930’s. We researched online and found plans. We want to build our lean-to so we can camp out in it. In this project we will use math skills, reading skills, measuring and how to use tools.

The reason we are reaching out to you is because we would like to know is anyone has any left over building materials that we could come pick up to use for our project. We will modify the plans for the lean-to to be built with the materials we can find.

We are seeking:
roofing materials
plywood for decking
wood that could be used for walls

During this time of social separation, it is nice to have Front Porch Forum.” • 4th & 2nd Graders in Stowe, Vt.

Share your creative ideas or network with neighbors in your community on FPF today. We are all in this together!