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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Front Porch Forum Now Available to All Vermont Towns Statewide

Does your town have Front Porch Forum? If so, you know the online community bulletin board can be a resource for all sorts of information - from contractor recommendations, to meeting minutes, to yard sale announcements. And now the service is being made available to every Vermont town.

The Vermont Council on Rural Developmentannounced this week, "After significant investment by the Vermont Digital Economy Project and software development by FPF, there is now a forum available for every Vermont town!"

Front Porch Forum is a free, Vermont-based service that currently serves 57,000 members across half the state. It started in Burlington in 2006 and has been expanding to other communities ever since. A Vermont Council on Rural Development press release says the system is now in place for every community to have its own forum, but forums will only become fully functional if enough people sign up.

New FPFs start in “registration” mode, and once 100 residents sign up, the new forum becomes fully functional. Register for your Front Porch Forum here. Front Porch Forum is a free community-building service that allows neighbors to connect with one another. It is moderated and members are clearly identified as they share postings about all sorts of topics. Each FPF helps neighbors share recommendations, find lost pets, welcome newcomers, inform about local events, and engage in healthy and civil debate about important local issues.

In addition to helping residents find lost pets and good plumbers, Front Porch Forum can be a valuable communication tool during a disaster. It is this potential that prompted the Vermont Council on Rural Development to fund the statewide expansion, according to VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello:

... after Tropical Storm Irene, it was clear that Front Porch Forum enabled communities by providing an easy volunteer organizing tool that was already at everyone’s fingertips...It was amazing how people shared tools and lent each other aide through this vehicle.

Over the last six months, Front Porch Forum co-founder Michael Wood-Lewis and his team have been focused on enabling expansion of the service. In February, Front Porch Forum had 47,000 active members across 90 Vermont towns. Now Front Porch Forum is gaining hundreds of new members each week, and it has the digital infrastructure to serve all 251 towns in the state.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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