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.
Posting today on the Barre Town FPF…
I want to publicly thank our town clerk for the great effort and use of Front Porch Forum to keep the residents of BarreTown well informed of all the deadlines and pertinent information associated with the upcoming election on November 4th.
Reported by VPR yesterday…
The Vermont Agency of Transportation has reversed a decision to close the Morrisville Bypass to non-motorized uses, at least until the agency’s Traffic Committee meets in December to discuss the issue.
The two-mile bypass, also known as the Alternative Truck Route, opens to traffic at 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. And now “traffic” will mean cars and trucks and bicycles and pedestrians.
“We have heard loud and clear from our customers who feel that bicycles and pedestrians should be allowed on the new Morristown Alternate Truck Route. VTrans, the Regional Planning Commission and the Town all agree and the prohibition will be removed as this road opens to the public on Friday,” Vermont Agency of Transportation program manager Kevin Marsha posted on Morrisville’s Front Porch Forum…
As the bypass neared completion the newly-posted limited access sign drew lot of attention over the past couple of weeks. Much of the conversation took place on Morrisville’s online Front Porch Forum and on discussion forums below news posts on the issue…
Paul posted on the Hinesburg Front Porch Forum the other day that opinions should be kept out of FPF postings, asking neighbors to “keep things kind and helpful.”
A neighbor Frank replied…
There are few forums for expressing opinions, besides at coffee shops, hair salons/barber shops and… on our front porches. I say, keep ’em coming [on our Front Porch Forum]. It’s part of what makes us a community. Indeed, as I am writing this on the 4th of July, I dare say the freedom to express ourselves is uniquely American.
Followed by another perspective from Craig…
I cannot disagree enough that we should not express our opinions or share news & information that affects us as community members on Front Porch Forum. The word “forum” itself expresses the goal of open discussion on matters that affect us on a broad level. It’s disappointing to see people suggesting that one of the only forum left to us to discuss community issues be limited to the innocuous and unimportant.
It sure would be sad if we had to rely only on government official announcements and the so-called “news” for information impacting us as citizens. Most of the important issues don’t get aired through those one-sided and for-profit venues. Democracy and freedom need a channel unfettered by government and corporate interests, like Front Porch Forum.
I find some of the most cogent and important information tome as a Hinesburgian on this site…
In days of yore, it was the public space — the Common or the Green — that was the place we gathered and expressed (and heard) uncomfortable opinions. In Providence, you can still see the speaker’s pulpit (the soapbox). In Boston, 200 acres were set aside for the purpose. And, yes, some of those viewpoints are potentialy offfensive to some, even repugnant. In the vaccuum of true journalism in mass media today, we need an electronic version of the public forum, and I am thankful a channel like Front Porch Forum exists to provide it.
I give money regularly to FPF to keep alive a public forum. I would not provide financial support to a non-forum where no ideas or opinions are shared.
Like all other media… if you don’t like it, don’t consume it. If you don’t like what the guy on the soapbox is saying, take another path, or block your ears. Hide your kids’ eyes. But don’t inhibit his freedom.
Then Jane posted…
I agree with [Craig] about Front Porch Forum being a valuable venue to express our opinions and ideas and I thank him for taking the time to express his feelings.
And it ended with a remarkable follow-up posting by Paul… a rare act of open-mindedness in this era of partisanship….
Sigh, still growing and learning. As I read posts and REALLY thought about it, I realized this IS a forum for ideas and opinions. Thanks for making me think again. It just caught me on a day when I was really tired, had read too many negative things in different forums, and I let those feelings spill out before thoroughly considering. Unfortunately, I wrote before fully thinking it through and realize that is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping others would not do. Hmmm, still growing and learning. Thanks, everyone.
Posted today on the Calais Front Porch Forum by Sharon…
My farming grandfather didn’t go to Town Meeting. His was a north-facing sugarbush, so he sugared late and Town Meeting Day was when he set out the taps. He didn’t go to Town Meeting because he “had” to work that day. Could he have set out the taps on Monday or Wednesday? Of course — but he was set in his ways and didn’t care enough about Town Meeting to shuffle his schedule. Vermont’s small town residents have always had — and still do have — choices about whether to attend Town Meeting, and they made (and make) their choices based on their personal sense of priorities for the day.
I, in contrast to my grandfather, have an employer who expects me to show up for work every day. And with a new job, I don’t have vacation time earned. But I worked it out because it matters to me to do so, and even without a vacation day to use I’ll be there (as I have for most or all Town Meetings in the 10+ years we’ve lived in Calais) voting to keep our Town Meeting alive.
Town Meeting is a tradition in Vermont established by our forefathers. But that’s not a reason to keep it or reject it. We should keep it or not for its relevance to today, the world we want to live in, and the world we want to leave to our children. Gathering together one time per year to decide our town and school budgets, elect local officers, and debate policy both local and beyond is an important part of the richness of our community. It’s one of the things that makes Calais, Vermont special. I’m with Erica. If we have to switch the day let’s do that — or even move it around from year to year to accommodate a variety of schedules — but let’s not be hasty to toss it away. Please join me and vote “no” on Town Articles 11, 12, and 13 and the School District Article 5. Thank you.
#VT – Thanks everybody who posted or emailed with ideas for keeping our backroads safe for the all of us. Because of Front Porch Forum, the word got out, and community pressure seems like it is going to have an effect on changing the reckless driving. I am hopeful about it. We’re lucky to have this forum and lucky to live here in this great community.
Posted by Diane on the Moretown FPF today in response to an ongoing conversation about speeding there. This is a popular subject on several FPFs around the state. Vermonters continue to impress with their ability to tackle challenging topics with civility… while getting results.
#VT – Neighbors are using their Waterbury Front Porch Forum to discuss their new municipal civic center. This type of potentially controversial topic often elicits conflicting responses from FPF members.
Member A: “The Waterbury Forum was NOT meant for politics; the newspapers, radio and TV take care of that… Now lets all get back to basics and the purpose of this forum – to help each other NOT preach at each other. I and most of us could care LESS about your opinions. I for one will discontinue use of this forum if it continues.”
Member B: “It’s been great to watch the discussion about our new Municipal Civic Center take hold here on FPF. This is really what Front Porch Forum is all about, the (civil) conversation!… Thanks everyone for weighing in and keep those thoughts coming! We believe in a community where everyone has their say.”
FPF encourages the neighborly exchange of facts, opinions and ideas about local issues. FPF is a great place to introduce this information and increase interest in the topic (since so many people read their FPF). In some cases after the initial discussion, moving off-line to in-person facilitated dialogue is recommended.
UPDATE: Here’s one more perspective shared today…
Member C: “I am in favor of using this forum for information, political or otherwise. This isn’t just a neighborhood Craigslist. There are views in this forum that you just don’t get in the newspaper or the news. Sometimes there are topics that I am not interested in reading about, so I don’t read them. I think FPF is a great thing!”
#VT – The discussion on Front Porch Forum about the upcoming town meeting vote has been enlightening, not only for what’s been said about the issue, but also for the medium in which it’s been said. Being one who likes to think things over, I appreciate having the time to hear and digest different opinions before voting. I also appreciate the fact that more people have spoken up on-line than might have in person.
Submitted by Polly to the New Haven FPF today.
#VT – A fresh batch of local elected officials took office this month in towns across Vermont and many of them are embracing Front Porch Forum to connect with constituents. Posted today on FPF by the newly elected mayor of Vergennes…
Dear Friends and Neighbors – FPF is a great way to keep abreast of local issues and create an atmosphere for the productive discussion of municipal business. I urge all citizens of Vergennes to join FPF as a way of communicating concerns to your municipal officers and the public at large. Please tell all your friends to join.
I will be posting questions and comments as well as notifying folks of volunteer opportunities for the upcoming spring and summer. I hope everyone can find the time to offer their time or expertise in helping our city move forward. Thanks.
Bill Benton, Mayor
City of Vergennes
#BTV #VT – Increasingly, the answer to this question includes Front Porch Forum. Ninety Vermont towns are served by FPF and public officials, advocacy groups and voters alike use their FPF to share information, state opinions and encourage participation in local democracy. Occasionally an FPF will get heated in the days approaching Town Meeting… but that’s how community works. Ideally neighbors pull together and move the community forward after Town Meeting Day, regardless of which candidates and ballot measures prevail.
FPF is popping up in traditional media this week. Two recent front pages (one and two) of the Burlington Free Press mentioned FPF’s role in Town Meeting issues. And Seven Days quoted former City Councilor Ed Adrian today…
In a February 28 posting on Front Porch Forum, Adrian lodged five points of criticism against Bushor, including: “To the best of my knowledge, Sharon has never posted on FPF. Anything.”
Ed will be glad to know that Sharon posted a campaign-related item to her FPF today!