On November 18, FPF participated in a virtual event celebrating Vermonters taking One Small Step. VPR and StoryCorps have spent the last several months connecting residents with different views who might never talk otherwise for a simple, personal conversation. Hear voices from the project followed by an interactive conversation with participants and experts, including Front Porch Forum’s co-founder Michael Wood-Lewis. Learn about the project’s intentions and how to incorporate “courageous conversations” into our daily lives. Listen to the show here.
Front Porch Forum and Braver Angels joined the panel to share how we help facilitate these conversations, build community and provide the tools to do have these conversations.
We’re often pleasantly surprised by the stories, fun and witty moments found on Front Porch Forum. Here’s one to bring a smile to your Monday:
“Did you drop a cheese ball on Berlin St. Friday afternoon? I saw it rolling down the sidewalk too late to get your attention. We have it safe in the fridge, hopefully it wasn’t for tonight’s dinner!” • Ken in Montpelier
“If it weren’t for Front Porch Forum would we even know about the runaway mozzarella ball rolling down BerlinStreet, rescued by kind strangers? Good to know these oddball random acts of kindness.” • Kristin in Montpelier
Front Porch Forum was recently featured in an episode of the podcast “Home. Made.” It tells the FPF origin story, and also gets into the behavioral science of what happens when we feel like we finally belong somewhere. Give it a listen!
Learn more about the episode or read the transcription here.
Wow! A number of students and families participated in this year’s “At-Home” version of the Good Citizen Challenge, complete with 40-plus activities encouraging learning in History, Government, Community Service and News Literacy. Many put FPF to work to complete the activities:
Team Tiki in Wolcott organized donations to the Hardwick Area Food Pantry. Blaine, 6, chose the charity. “It was all him,” said mom Laura.
Laura put out a call for donations on their Front Porch Forum, and neighbors they’d never met responded, dropping food off at their house. They’d beep when they arrived, said Laura, and “We’d wave from the window” or help unload the items.
She said delivering the donations was a big moment for Blaine. “I think it was the first time he really had an experience where he could actually feel that he had an impact on the world,” she said. “Things like that really sink in for children. I think he won’t ever forget that.”
Pick up the April issue of Kids VT, which is in this week’s Seven Days to learn more, or read online.
Front Porch Forum gives members across Vermont and parts of upstate New York and Massachusetts, a space to connect with their neighbors and communities. We see all kinds of postings, but some of our favorites are postings were people come together to help meet a need in the community.
Eric Axlerod, and FPF member from Jericho, uses his neighborhood forum to help provide firewood to neighbors in need. It started with a simple surplus of wood and has evolved into an effort to source, cut, stack, and donate cords of firewood.
“Thus far, they’ve given away 12 cords of wood. The crew is hoping to collect 20 cords to have on hand ahead of this fall. While they started collecting at their own house, they’ve also cut wood on neighbors’ properties.
The trio has dubbed the undertaking “Wood for Good,” and its mission is similar to that of organizations such as the Monkton Wood Bank in Addison County. Axelrod said he eventually wants to form a nonprofit and hopes to sign up more volunteers to help the cause. He’d consider expanding beyond Chittenden County if it takes off.”
Burlington Free Press also covered the story, sharing that many community business have pitched in to provide trees, wood-splitting and stacking equipment, and volunteers to help get firewood ready for this winter:
“Last month North Star Leasing Company in Burlington announced it was donating a portable wood conveyor to Wood for Good…
…Employees of North Star Leasing are arriving earlier to help split wood. People from the Rotary Club of Burlington and Axelrod’s men’s group have also come to help. Barrett’s Tree Services in South Burlington dropped off seven loads of trees that gave Axelrod a huge boost for 2021. Teachers Tree Service in Shelburne also donated trees.”
When people come together and give back to their community, amazing things can happen. This is a wonderful testament to how challenging times have inspired many amazing neighbors and small businesses to help support those in need of food, warmth, and support.
Read and post on FPF to brainstorm ideas for community outreach, connect with resources that may help you and your family, or organize an effort in your town!
Even though this year has been full of challenges the likes of which we’ve never seen before, many folks on Front Porch Forum are finding a plethora of things to be grateful for. Indeed, an attitude of gratitude can make the darker times seem much brighter. Check out what some of our neighbors have had to say during this time of thanks:
“Hey you. Yeah YOU!!! 2020 gave you every reason to not be thankful. It threw everything at you yet here you are reading this. Thank you to all the essential workers from doctors and nurses, to farmers, to the kid bagging your groceries, you putting yourself at risk so we can have some semblance of normalcy is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Thank you to this community who stick together and help each other despite adversity. All storms end eventually and we will come out of all this stronger. Happy Thanksgiving” – R. in Stowe
“FPF has been a faithful and trusted organization for us all and especially important during this challenging time.” – L. in So. Burlington
“I am beyond grateful for this beautiful Valley in which I can enjoy the clean air outdoors, walk on hillsides that take my breath away with my dog and husband and enjoy delicious, local foods.” -L. in Mad River Valley
“It would be an even more disconnected world than it already is without FPF to tie our neighborhoods together.” ““ J. in Charlotte
“Been living in this home since 1960. Have enjoyed the neighborhood, but recently have come to appreciate the neighbors as never before. With the Pandemic, neighbors have offered, and delivered food and help. One neighbor has taken over my hobby of picking up the trash along the roadside, beer cans, etc., that I decided not to do anymore. I think I saw her/him on the road Sat. afternoon, and checked it out Sunday, trash is gone! Yes, We like it here. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.” – A. in East Hardwick
Share what you are grateful for this year with your neighbors on FPF.
It’s easier to remember we’re all in this together when we experience acts of kindness that inspire hope. Check out these Front Porch Forum postings for a reminder that we have some pretty great neighbors out there! We’re all in this together.
“Thank you to the kind stranger who returned my wallet to my home address today, everything fully intact. I lost it during a particularly discouraging week, and it was incredibly uplifting to find it in my mailbox today. Beyond the relief of not having to replace all of my IDs and cards, it is wonderful to be reminded that there are good people in this community doing the right thing. There wasn’t a note, so if you who returned it happens upon this post, please reach out and let me know– I would love the opportunity to thank you directly and return your kindness.” • Olivia in Burlington
“We are now 8 months into this pandemic, and it has been a very strange and stressful time. Are you OK? Are your neighbors OK? Many folks are struggling with things like loneliness and depression. Many have disabilities making routine tasks difficult. Some of us are facing food insecurity or struggling with addiction. Please remember to check in with your neighbors who may need help, and if you need help yourself, please reach out and feel the love this community has for you. Let me know if I can help or put you in touch with someone who can.” • Mark in Castleton
“About 2 weeks ago there was a posting for a man’s wedding ring that was found at Waterbury Reservoir. I’m happy to report that ring is now back on my nephew’s finger. To truly appreciate this story I have to share that the ring was lost at Waterbury Reservoir 2 YEARS AGO! We will never know what adventures that ring went on swimming around in that huge body of water. Thank you to the people who found it and posted it. Thank you to FPF for providing the most amazing service to our community. Never give up hope.” • Lorraine in Cambridge
“Thank you to everyone who emailed me in support of my post about the signs the other day. You are all so kind to take the time to extend your warm words.
It got me thinking though about how 2020 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions A year that has left us with so many emotional jagged edges it’s no wonder we react without thinking, tear into friends and strangers and generally not being our best selves. We all know we can do better, we just seem to not have much bandwidth left for that.
So I would like to propose a community FPF challenge. It’s an easy one too. I would like everyone who reads this post to reply with a story of something great that happened to them today or this week. It doesn’t have to be big, or life changing or deep, in fact something simple and sweet is best. The idea is to fill up our hearts with all the ways we are a fantastic community, surrounded with great neighbors and friends and that we are truly lucky even when we forget that. Our “wealth” is all around us, we just need to remember that more often than not.
I hope you will take 60 seconds to join me and hit reply all with your own story of gratitude. Thanks, Beth
I will start.
I want to acknowledge and thank the man who I see walking around town with his garbage grabbing stick and orange bag picking up other people’s trash nearly everyday. You sir are AWESOME. Thank you so much for making our roads cleaner and more beautiful for everyone to enjoy. Hometown Hero in my book. Thank you so much.” • Elizabeth in Stowe
Spread your message or story of hope to your neighbors on FPF.
We couldn’t resist sharing this story shared on Front Porch Forum. A unique way to “pay it forward.”
“Something amazing happened to us tonight. We went out to dinner to celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary. We had a very nice meal which we very much enjoyed. When we asked for the check the waitress said that she had heard us say that it was our 51st anniversary. A frequent customer of their’s had called in and asked that, in memory of his son who would have been 24 today, the restaurant choose a customer celebrating something of consequence, and he would pick up the bill! So we had a very nice dinner capped off by this man’s thoughtfulness! We, of course, paid the waitress a tip for 20% of what the bill would have been and asked the hostess if she could give us our benefactors name and telephone. She did so and we called him as soon as we got home and thanked him. We also decided that this was such a nice thing to do that we will “pay it forward” and do the same thing in future every year on our anniversary to honor our long deceased parents and their anniversaries.” • John in East Hardwick
Have your own examples of “Paying it Forward?” Post them on FPF!
Read your FPF by email? Prefer the website? Are you a mobile app aficionado? However you connect with your neighbors online, FPF has gotten some major upgrades this year, including a new look across the board and new features to make reading and posting even easier. Here’s how some FPF members have responded to the changes:
“The great thing about FPF is anyone is welcome to post on subjects that are important to them; for some people it’s Doggy Play Dates or Free Plants, and for others it’s Community Health Issues. The new format and bold subject field enable you to peruse the page, read the posts that interest you, and skip the ones that don’t (or maybe be exposed to a different point of view.) Thanks, FPF for the opportunity to connect and share.” • Joseph in Waterbury Center, Vt.
“I used the “Edit post” option for the first time just now. It may have been there for a while but I just happily discovered it and wanted to pass along my excitement for the service Front Porch Forum is providing to our communities!” •Elly at Lamoille Regional Solid Waste
“We just moved to Vermont from California and I am looking forward to using this forum for resources!”• Holly in Williston
Front Porch Forum is a way to connect with neighbors on community efforts, local issues, and…scat identification? One curious neighbor asked for help discovering what kind of animal had been in their backyard, and got a huge and helpful response on their neighborhood forum! Check out the story below.
“Well, if you want to gather a crowd, just show up with a little scat.
I received 17 unique offers of help analyzing the scat photo. Each was serious and wonderfully curious in their pursuit of an answer.
The identifications offered included: skunk, raccoon, feral cat, weasel, coyote, red fox, grey fox and bobcat, after our neighbor reminded me that we had a beautiful bobcat sitting in a maple across from our barn a year ago.. Catamount was ruled out.
Several folks forwarded the picture to several other more expert folks who responded with a more focused belief that it was either a skunk or a raccoon but most likely a raccoon.
My thanks to everyone who replied to my ask. It was great to touch base with so many old friends that, due to circumstances, have been out of touch.
FPF is a force for good and re-tightening community. Thank you.” • Phil in Craftsbury, Vt.
Have a question you could use some input on? Try asking neighbors on your local FPF.