The Aspen Institute just issued its Commission for Information Disorder final report. We’re humbled to see Front Porch Forum recognized among a short list of approaches that are making real progress instead of feeding the spread of disinformation. The commission includes celebrities like Craig Newmark, Katie Couric and Prince Harry, along with an array of national experts.
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.
Front Porch Forum is gaining some remarkable national attention these days. It’s an honor to be featured and recognized for our community building work, local focus and approach to digital tech. Check out some of the cool things that have been happening with FPF in the media below:
“To Thrive, Our Democracy Needs Digital Public Infrastructure”
Jan. 5, 2021
By: Eli Pariser and Danielle Allen of Politico
“…what we need are not just information services with a mission-driven agenda, but spaces where people can talk, share and relate without those relationships being distorted and shaped by profit-seeking incentive structures. We are just beginning to see glimpses of what these spaces might look like. One model is Vermont’s Front Porch Forum…two-thirds of Vermont households are on the Forum, and many Vermonters find it a valuable place for thoughtful public discussions…
…Built into the premise of this work is the notion that what’s needed is not one publicly owned Facebook clone, but an armada of localized, community-specific, public-serving institutions that can serve the functions in digital space that community institutions have served for centuries in physical places. Vermont’s Front Porch Forum and other examples show this is possible, even in the digital age.”
Read the full article here.
“Imagining Our Social Media Future”
Jan. 15, 2021
Hosted by: Brooke Gladstone of WNYC Studios and featured on NPR
Brooke Gladstone and Eli Pariser explore the limitations mainstream social media places on real communities. Welcoming and thought-provoking digital spaces make community building more possible. How the spaces are designed will decide how we participate in them.
“I’m inspired by examples like Front Porch Forum in Vermont, which is kind of like a slow social network…it’s very heavily moderated local email list that you can post to [daily]. If you post something and it’s against the rules and norms it gets sent back to you with a nice little note saying like “hey can you try saying this a different way.” The once-a-dayness is really important because you have to have a lot of stamina and energy to sustain an argument across 14 days of back-and-forth. What’s interesting about Front Porch Forum is it’s used by a huge portion of households in Vermont. Local representatives in Vermont are on Front Porch Forum because they know that’s where the issues of the day are being discussed and addressed.”
Listen to the full, 15-minute discussion here.
Highlights from the New Public Festival, held Jan. 12-14, by Micah Sifry
“Given all the problems with civic engagement today widespread misinformation, heightened polarization, online mobs (and their offline manifestations), fears of censorship by over-empowered tech bros, social isolation, increased mood disorders from online addiction, the list goes on and on–should we fix the tech platforms, or should we start over?”
Front Porch Forum co-founder, Michael Wood-Lewis, presented alongside dozens of other tech innovators and project leaders working to shape the future of tech spaces. For more information on who participated in this year’s New Public Festival or to sign up for more information, visit here.
“These 14 principles could help big platforms create healthier social media”
“The Civic Signals founders say they have had some discussions with big tech companies about their work. But they also see the signals as useful to smaller and nontraditional operations, including publicly operated civic forums and smaller platforms like the Vermont-run Front Porch Forum, a network of neighborhood-based sites.
“We have a realistic view of what can happen in traditional tech-startup world, and we don’t think that all of these public functions can be served just by private companies alone,” Pariser says. ‘There’s a role for public infrastructure as well.'”
Read the full article here.
“Could Tax Dollars Fund Smaller, Better Social Media?”
“…Users will need a brigade of options “localized, community-specific, public-serving institutions that can serve the functions in digital space that community institutions have served for centuries in physical places,” as Pariser wrote in Politico.
One model that Pariser has pointed to is Vermont’s Front Porch Forum, a 20-year-old local forum/digital newsletter that has become an unlikely model for online communities.”
Read more here.
Also, check out more commentary from Eli Pariser from Dec. 2020 on an episode of Your Undivided Attention from the Center for Humane Technology here.
Does your favorite candidate for the legislature or statewide office support Vermont businesses? How about racial justice? If both answers are yes, then consider asking them if they are spending their ad budgets with Vermont media — or with Facebook.
Why does this matter? Because sending Vermont dollars to Facebook is not “buying local” and runs counter to racial justice. Facebook gives a voice to the highest bidder, even if that voice is sharing inflammatory hate speech.
Here in Vermont and around the nation, people are rallying to lift their communities by supporting the local economy and standing up against racism.
One example is Buy Local. This is a collection of efforts to encourage people to use the dollars they spend on everyday necessities with local businesses, building community wealth along the way. In fact, Vermont’s own state government is funding dozens of Buy Local initiatives this summer across the state.
Another case is #stophateforprofit. This fast-growing global campaign asks “all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July.” Click on the link above to see how Facebook is on the wrong side of history, putting corporate profit ahead of American’s core values.
Corporations of all sizes are taking the pledge. Among many others, Verizon, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Honda, Patagonia, Levi’s, and Ben & Jerry’s, have pledged to stop advertising with Facebook for the month of July.
In this context, Front Porch Forum joins Seven Days and other Vermont media in calling on candidates for statewide office or the legislature to take a stand too. It’s time to stop sending Vermont money to Silicon Valley billionaires who have repeatedly failed to use their power to curb hate. It’s time to ask Vermont candidates to put their money where their values are – with local media that put Vermont values first.
Many of the dozens of small locally owned media businesses in Vermont are struggling financially. Now is the time to step up, for those who can, and Buy Local with their advertising dollars. Where do your candidates stand on this choice?
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!
It’s Town Meeting Day in Vermont and Front Porch Forum is buzzing with posts about community-centric topics and local issues. Stay informed on what’s happening in your town and around the state, and keep the conversation going! Here are some great posts about Town Meeting Day from neighbors on FPF:
“Hi Neighbors! For those of you that haven’t taken advantage of early voting, I’m extending an invitation to help get you to Holley Hall tomorrow to VOTE! I have a young one with me, so my availability is limited. But during the morning, we would be more than happy to pick you up & take you home if getting out is a challenge for you.
Please get in touch this evening if you’d like to make a plan. Thank you to everyone who participates in voting!” • Megan in Bristol
“Here’s our proposal:
WHAT: a real Pot Luck Lunch
WHEN: on Town Meeting Day, Tuesday, March 3rd, whenever the meeting ends
WHERE: in the gym at Doty Memorial School
WHY: because it’s so good to be able to sit down and talk with neighbors that we may not see very often, while sharing a delicious meal!” • Dell in Worcester
“Town Meeting Day is a Vermont tradition that feels deeply important to me. We live in a place where we still can truly participate in the democratic process, connect with our neighbors, and model active citizenship to our children. Please consider attending, even if you never have before! I hope to see you there.” • Tai in Charlotte
Don’t forget to share your thoughts on Town Meeting Day on your FPF!
Thoughtful discussion from Front Porch Forum members allows us to learn and connect with our neighbors.
“I have to admit, my favorite bits of FPF are the disagreements. I think arguments on FPF are really helpful. They bring to the surface issues that we don’t always talk about. Everyone gets a chance to gauge the opinions of their neighbors. It’s not hard to chime in. Every time there’s a chain of discussion posts–about panhandling, or dogs, or pedestrians and drivers, I learn something. For me, it’s good to know just how much I disagree, and why, and who I might occasionally agree with.
Consensus might be best, but disagreement is way better than silence. Thanks, to Front Porch Forum and everyone who takes the time to post their arguments.” • Glen, City Councilor in Montpelier