CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY BY SIGNING UP FOR FRONT PORCH FORUM

Dear Neighbor,

For the last year or two people have been asking the South Williamstown Community Association if we might create a way for our community members to get in touch with each other when they needed a ride or the use of a tool or when they had something to give away or a missing cat.  We have stewed about this for quite a while and think we have come up with a good solution.  It’s called Front Porch Forum.  It has only been available to communities in Vermont so far, but our South Williamstown Community Association Board Member Matt Baya has convinced FPF to give us a try if we can sign up 250 Williamstown residents.  It is free and once it’s activated, you will only receive one email a day.  We hope you will want to sign up. Details follow right after a testimonial from SWCA board member Pam Burger who has family and friends who use it frequently:

“Regarding the Front Porch Forum, my family and friends in VT find it very valuable. I can't remember the item now but I wanted to find something locally, a piece of gardening equipment, perhaps. I mentioned this to a relative who lives in Burlington and Julie, without a moment's hesitation, responded, ‘Use Front Porch Forum.’ When I told her we don't have it here, she said in near amazement, ‘MA doesn't have Front Porch Forum? We use it so often, to locate or donate items, find or offer services, help locate lost animals, and other things as well.’  It appears one of its advantages over other similar services is that it's local, so to speak, rather than national. My sister who lives in the Montpelier area also sings its praises.”

 

Bette Craig, President, SWCA

Front Porch Forum project

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Front Porch Forum is a free community-building service in Vermont and parts of New York. Your neighborhood’s forum is only open to the people who live there. It’s all about helping neighbors connect.”

Starting in June 2020 a number of Williamstown residents are working to bring Front Porch Forum ( https://frontporchforum.com/ ) to Williamstown. We have been in contact with the staff at Front Porch Forum and they have agreed to consider Williamstown as the first town in Massachusetts to join them!

In order to do this, we need to get at least 250 residents to sign up here indicating that they’ll join when this service is activated. We think this is entirely possible and are excited to see FPF come to Williamstown!

If you are a Williamstown resident and are interested in this serviceplease provide your name, address & e-mail on this form. ( https://forms.gle/X39awviByzbK6G3RA ) 

This form was created by the South Williamstown Community Association. Information submitted to it will only be shared with Front Porch Forum if we are successful in demonstrating there is enough interest in this community. We may also e-mail you with information about the progress of this effort but will not use this information for any other purpose.

Who Is Organizing this effort? This effort was initiated by the board of the South Williamstown Community Association in an effort to provide a community resource for the entire Williamstown community that we felt comfortable recommending and promoting.

Why do we need this? We recognize there are other alternatives to this already available in this area but we don’t believe they currently meet the needs we have observed.

  • Williams College has a service similar to this, Switchboard, but access to it is limited to the Williams’ community.
  • Another service, NextDoor, is also already available here but its business model and privacy policies concern us.
  • Facebook groups are another alternative, but they do not fill the needs completely and there are privacy concerns with them as well.

Why Front Porch Forum? You can do some more digging here:

  • Here is a one-page flyer titled “Why FPF?” that lays out how FPF is different

  • This really well written 2019 article from The Verge that explores in depth how FPF works 
  • An article written during the current health crisis, entitled The Internet’s Missing Link in the Age of Covid-19, describes Front Porch Forum as follows: “In all my years of reporting on how we use tech in civic life, one platform has stood out for how it has successfully fostered healthy community engagement while reaching significant scale: Vermont’s Front Porch Forum”. (Micah Sifrey)
  • FPF is a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation. See their annual report for 2019 here
  • See a short Vermont PBS film about Front Porch Forum – https://vermont.twg.io/
  • FPF is moderated. “FPF is thoughtfully moderated. Every posting is reviewed by our online community managers before it is published. This helps ensure that the conversation stays civil and inclusive.”
  • FPF respects its members’ privacy.  FPF does not develop profiles of members based on what they post, and FPF does not target content specifically at members in any way (everything is at the level of the whole forum).  Other services make their money through a surveillance model:  they sell access to their members to advertisers based on detailed profiling of each individual member.

If you are a Williamstown resident and are interested in this serviceplease provide your name, address & e-mail on this form. ( https://forms.gle/X39awviByzbK6G3RA ) 

If you have questions about this effort please contact Matthew Baya at matt@baya.net

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