The topic of sharing the road between motorists and cyclists is heating up on the Bristol Front Porch Forum this week. FPF member Marc’s posting made a great point…
I’m feeling a bit nervous now that I have opened the door to this conversation between bicyclists and car drivers sharing the road. But the door is now open so here goes.
After reading your post Ryan I found myself agreeing with almost all your points and identifying with your irritation… It also got me thinking that all your wonderful points and my points and Debbie’s points are maybe beside the point or at least not the main point.
A story: In my early 20s I shared a house with four unrelated people. We would get irritated with each other over not doing the dishes the right way or at all, leaving a mess around, being too noisy, etc. The less time we interacted with each other the more irritated we would get. When we did things together or just hung out and talked things would improve. Somehow people did a little bit of a better job and we became more tolerant and less annoyed. I think what happened is that we saw each other more as people and less as just annoyances and wanted to be nicer to each other.
So in my mind this conversation about bicyclists and car drivers sharing the road is not about whose points are right and whose points are wrong. It’s about having the conversation, making our points in a kind way, hearing our neighbors’ concerns and being heard by our neighbors. My hope is that in some magic way a kind and considerate conversation will lead to kinder and more considerate behavior on everyone’s part and a safer road for all of us.
“I want to express my appreciation to Rep. Robin Chestnut-Tangerman for posting legislative updates on Front Porch Forum, and for his obvious commitment to his work on our behalf. It also seems clear that you (Robin) really enjoy what you are doing and your passion shows. I feel well represented by you, and thank you for keeping us all informed.”
• Paul & Margaret, Tinmouth FPF
A proposed social media policy that would cover both town employees and elected officials was met with pushback last week in Rockingham, with Select Board members saying they felt the proposed policy was a threat to their First Amendment rights…
Abby Friedman, director of the municipal assistance center for the [Vermont League of Cities and Towns], said Friday that many larger towns and cities in Vermont have social media policies, but she said she didn’t know whether they had adopted the one drafted by the league.
She said Barre City, Williston and Colchester were among the larger communities that had policies.
“The policy was written back in 2010. It was before Front Porch (Forum) existed. We need to look at our policy too to see if it needs any updating,” she said, noting that a lot of towns were concerned about the social media issue.
Chris Winters, deputy director of the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, said his office so far had not given towns and town officials any official guidance on the issue.
“Eventually, this summer, we were thinking of putting together some guidance,” he said. “And give the towns some help on online and social media behavior.”
In many Vermont communities, more than half of the households participate on their local FPF. So many more residents of these Towns read comments on FPF than would ever attend selectboard meetings. If we want healthy local democracy, we should update state and local policies to encourage participation… not the opposite.
One correction… FPF has been serving Vermont Towns since 2006, and we’ve had public officials participating during each of the past ten years.
“Thanks to the folks running for election who gave us a quick bio of themselves here on Front Porch Forum. We vote for town positions and officers on Tuesday, 3/1, and by law they can’t speak up about why they are running during our Saturday town meeting. Would it be worth coming in a little early, say noon, to be able to share why you should be voted in? Town Meeting officially starts at 1:00. What do you all think?”
• David, Tinmouth FPF
“I’ve read some recent public appraisals of public servants on FPF. There is an old and very good adage about this. Praise in public; criticize in private. When we have a problem with how someone’s performance or behavior is affecting us, it is best to tell that person directly, in private. Try to do it without personalizing it and assume the other is a good person who wants to do the best they can. Doing it in public humiliates and hurts people but rarely resolves a conflict.”
• Michael, Westford Front Porch Forum
“Thanks to Front Porch Forum for providing a way to communicate to our community directly. It’s worth supporting financially. We live in a politically charged world and, yes, worldly problems can be made to trivialize local concern. The Shelburne FPF is for us neighbors and I am grateful to be able to share my thoughts. Together we can work toward a better community by keeping communication open and positive. Thank You FPF.”
• Steven, Shelburne FPF
“I read our FPF updates with enthusiasm and at times curiosity. I live on Main Street in the heart of the beaten path to and from off-campus student activities. I have lost flags, and other decorations to midnight five-finger-discount perpetrators. Yet, I refuse to brand ALL students as impish, hooligans, and ne’er do wells.
“Our college has myriad examples of kind, considerate and cooperative students: Mentor Programs, Meals on Wheels, etc. I am also a faculty member… Our students are reaching out regularly to become more involved with OUR community as we incorporate more Civic Engagement into our curriculum.
“You can’t expect to solve a problem with a school without taking into account the problems in the community. There is substantial divisiveness, tension, and squabble among and between us. There is a history of bullying and strong-arm behavior in our politics. If you believe that students don’t see it, then GOD BLESS YOU!!!
“I would like to have the community welcome new students as they arrive for the first time to our town. I have spoken to several folks about making this idea happen. We have a BEAUTIFUL town and caring people in it. Why not model the behavior we would like them to embrace as a standard?”
It’s Town Meeting season. We get plenty of questions about how to use Front Porch Forum to address local issues this time of year, so we thought we’d share the following.
Postings about local Town Meeting topics, elections and ballot measures are welcome on each FPF. We ask that people who submit postings keep their tone civil one person’s witty remark is another’s cutting insult. Also, please focus on the topic rather than on specific neighbors. If you think someone is abusing this opportunity for open community dialogue, feel free to contact us with details.
Every single town in Vermont now has Front Porch Forum, and many of them become more lively this time of year as neighbors ask questions and share facts and opinions leading up to Town Meeting Day. We’re grateful to be able to make this contribution to Vermont’s centuries-long tradition of local and democratic decision making. We’ve heard repeatedly that people feel more informed and better able to participate and vote on Town Meeting Day thanks to their neighbors’ postings on their local FPFs. Please feel welcome to join in.
Of course the best way to participate is by showing up at Town Meeting and/or the ballot box!
P.S. From Susan in Montpelier today… “Thanks for being a digital Town Meeting prep station (ugh)… but you know what I mean, right?”
An increasing number of municipal boards and committees post their public meeting warnings and minutes on their local Front Porch Forums. Many have done this for years, but more have started doing it lately. For example, the New Haven Conservation Commission posted an invitation to the community to attend its upcoming meeting, followed by the agenda.
It started with this lovely invitation…
We welcome all who wish to express their ideas, thoughts and opportunities. As we continue the goals of this commission it is important that we hear from the townspeople that we will serve. Please come join us.
And ended with…
Posted December 27, 2014, Town Office, Village Green Market, Post Office, Website, Front Porch Forum.