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Founder Fridays

A Regenerative Social Network

This post was originally shared in our email newsletter on February 24, 2023.

With social media companies weaponizing social networking spaces against our interests, where on the interwebs can we go to safely connect with other human beings?

Consider the promise of Front Porch Forum (FPF), a free community-building service in Vermont and parts of New York, whose purpose is to help neighbors connect.

FPF is a moderated, daily email newsletter compiling posts from members of a neighborhood. The interface is remarkably simple. Yet, two-thirds of Vermont households use the service and it has become a vital community and resilience builder for localities across the state.

I had the opportunity last year to see first hand what the fuss was all about. Having recently moved into a new town, my wife and I were keen to find ways to connect with our new neighbors. Following a lot of research, I ended up begging FPF to expand into our area. After some persistence, they offered me some tips to help us start our own local forum—and 30 days to lurk on one of their existing ones.

I assiduously read every post for 30 days. By the end, I was mind-blown. It wasn’t just about how engaged I felt with a place in which I had never set foot. I was in awe at how many real life acts of compassion and connection were coming out of this simple, brilliantly designed forum. 

Angry, divisive rants of the kind that I got so accustomed to seeing on Facebook were rare. And when they happened, instead of devolving into anger and vitriol, they turned into opportunities for people to come together and reaffirm a sense of belonging and shared values. I wish you could see this for yourselves.

What I find most exciting about FPF is that it shows us that another way is possible. We can build lots of little human-scale forums. We can reclaim our public square and re-ignite that human connection that we’ve lost.

I’m curious to hear from any Vermonters who have had the opportunity to use FPF. What’s your experience been? 

– Harry from Keap, Steward-Owner  

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