Redefining Front-Porch Culture: Bloggers and a World-Wide Notion of Neighbor


Our front porch is falling apart.  Floor boards are rotten.   Railings are either loose or long gone.  Paint is peeling.

Our front porch (Sara’s photo)

To even call it a porch might be to unduly dignify the failing structure now only semi-attached to the front of our equally falling down house.  It’s a sad architectural decay, a century in the making.

Sometimes my partner Sara and I joke about purposefully keeping the porch in pathetic shape, so when we’re out of the country for months at a time, no one would imagine there’s anything worth stealing on the inside.

Yet theft or no theft, for two centuries, front porches have been an important part of our country’s popular imagination.  In fact, front porches are a distinct architectural features of American homes—almost as popular in the US as baseball and apple pie.

Originally important as cool, shaded spaces for families to gather, front porches became  common-place by the middle of the 19th-century, peaking in popularity into the earlier 20th.  Only after World War II and the movement of American families to the suburbs did back yards replace front porches as a primary outdoor place for children to play and parents to socialize.  Slightly more removed from the public eye than the front porch, back yards insulated families from their neighbors, as, in recent years, television and the internet, in moving America almost entirely indoors, have reinvented the notion of neighborhood altogether.

But I didn’t grow up in the suburbs, virtual or otherwise, so during my childhood front porches figured prominently.  Where we lived, within the city limits of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, people still gathered on porches.  This was especially true for elderly folks who had grown up during the front-porch hay-day of the early 1900s.

It’s no surprise then that my grandmother introduced me to porch occupation.  My father’s mother, Kimmy, as we called her, took to the front porch especially on summer evenings, often with a white handkerchief, slathered in Ben-Gay, tied around her head, the menthol meant to treat her almost perpetual headache.  It’s virtually impossible for me to remember Kimmy without that white bandana, worn rather than waved, in near surrender to migraine pain—what she referred to as “having [her] head tied up.”

Kimmy (heachache-free) on our front porch in Pittsburgh.

Headache or not, however, since our house was on the flight path of planes approaching the Pittsburgh airport, Kimmy and I spent many evenings on the porch counting jets as they roared by.  Oh, what an exciting life we led, that this was considered sport.  Seriously, talk about hard up!  No wonder Kimmy had a head ache.  Bless her heart, not to mention her neck!

My maternal grandmother, who lived in a small town east of Pittsburgh also loved sitting on her front porch on summer evenings.  However, Nana didn’t count planes.  Her concerns were more down-to-earth.  Nana had neighbors to talk to.

Nana (center), seated just below her front porch, with her 5 daughters–around 1970.

While Kimmy sat on the porch passively watching the world fly by, Nana engaged with friends and strangers, alike.  Kimmy didn’t use the porch as a place to reach out from, and rather than counting her blessings, as Nana did, Kimmy, not knowing how to be thankful, counted that which was above and beyond her.  Gratitude eluded her.

It’s no surprise then that, although I loved Kimmy dearly, Nana, I adored.  For Nana the porch was a place of action–for Kimmy, a place she occupied only passively.   Though Nana used  a walker in later years and couldn’t venture into the street, neighbors came and went from Nana’s porch.  It was not a static place.  It was a space for love and faith in action.

No one had the time to count anything from Nana’s porch.  Rather, Nana’s neighbors counted on her.  She cared for them.  She prayed with them.  When she could barely stand, she still baked pies for them.

So, perhaps, it’s appropriate that the front porch on this house I share with Sara is imperfect.  Though we’ve been home from Haiti for more than a year, we too are women of action.  We’ve gone out into the world–literally.

Sara, during her twenty years with an international housing NGO, has helped folks build homes of their own.  Homes with porches.

And those porches are places from which they, too, can reach out, give back, care more.

Perhaps this blog, as well, is a front porch, of sorts—a place from which virtual neighbors come and go.  When we leave comments, we take the time to stay and “set a spell” (as they say here in Kentucky).

Blogs, like porches, transition us from private to public space and back again.  They link us to something larger, something outside ourselves, something more meaningful than counting planes, or page hits, for that matter.  Blogs are open doors.  They create a shared space, become a place where friendships form and lives change.  Blogs encourage dialogue, deepen connections, create an experience that is richer than any single post in and of itself.

Blogs are front porches reinvented for a digital age, perhaps—platforms that take the inside out and bring the outside in, corridors of courtesy in a digital and fast-paced world.

Bloggers, such as you and I, are the architects of new neighborhoods, not only in America, but beyond, as well.  We offer a wider welcome, with new notions of proximity, new notions of inclucivity and love.

Blog on, my friends, blog on.

What role have porches played in your life?  What else do blogs and porches have in common?  How has blogging opened you to wider world?

Note:   I’m writing a memoir about growing up in an organized crime family.  This post is part of my memoir series.  To read a draft of chapter one, click here.

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224 thoughts on “Redefining Front-Porch Culture: Bloggers and a World-Wide Notion of Neighbor

  1. Always wanted a front porch, like the ones pictured and described! What a wonderful analogy .. blogging being a front porch. I love visiting here and “sitting a spell,” too. Cheers!
    MJ

  2. Kathy,

    Sweet memories of front porches and you have combined them all so brilliantly.
    I did not have a front porch culture even through our old house has a classed in front porch, we never used it because we have back and side yard which was the party area.

    Yes I agree about blogging being the “new” front porch, allowing people in, finding out what people are doing and getting into!

    Oh I wanted to ask, what kind of scanner do you have that you use for your old photos?

    (((Hugs))) Jeff

    • I suppose a glassed-in front porch wouldn’t be a place to cool down in the summer, either. But it sounds like the back and side yards served up plenty of good times. That’s what matter most, I suppose. So glad you enjoyed this post. I think the scanner I used was our Canon. Nothing fancy about it. Great to have you stop by this morning, Jeff. Hugs to you, as well, my friend.

  3. I just renovated my front porch and I love it. Though it’s smaller, it fits my house better – it’s more in scale. And I painted it white! Yes, blogging allows lots of people you’d never get a chance to meet to step up on your porch and visit. It can be such a nice way to feel good about humanity!

    • Isn’t that the truth. Blogging makes me feel better about humanity, as well. Plus, a white front porch is perfect! Good God, do we EVER NEED TO REDO OURS!!!! Thanks so much for stopping by. Great to hear from you this Monday morning.

  4. Well, my blogging friend, I am happy to visit your front porch anytime. I have seen how active front porch sitting can turn a neighborhood into a friendlier and safer place. I feel more engaged with my neighbors when Orion and I sit out front and wait for the bus rather than hovering inside until the driver knocks on the door. So I am intrigued by this idea of a blog as a front porch. I can certainly get the sense of sitting a spell and having a drop in.

  5. So, when you smell Ben Gay, do you always think of your Kimmy? That’s such a great story that I might think of her now. And maybe I will try that the next time I have a headache.

    MTM and I sold our Charleston single house, which had a double side porch (upstairs and downstairs.) We always ate dinner on the porch in good weather, and it was delightful.

    • I don’t even have to smell Ben Gay to think of her–the mere mention of the brand brings her back–bandana and all. When I was a kid we used to eat dinner on our back porch in the summer. But that’s the subject for another post, I suppose.

    • Yippee! If this post inspires another one, gosh, that would be the best! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with. Be sure to come back and leave the link for readers who might not know how brilliantly you wield words! LOL

  6. What a great analogy!!! I personally love front porches–I don’t currently have one now and actually when I think about it–really only 1 of our 8 houses had a front porch of any size worth sitting on!!! When we look at houses these days thinking forward to where we will end up some day I always look at the houses with the wrap around front porches–they seem to welcome me into their arms. My blog is definitely my front porch where I share all with my closest friends….such a great post this morning. Thanks, Kathy! Great start to my Monday!

    • When I thought about writers who use there blogs to reach out to the community, yours was the first that came to mind. Comments for a Cause takes this notion full circle, actually. You reach out with your post, folks reach back with comments, which in turn causes you to reach out and make a donation. It’s perfect. It really is a brilliant, not to mention blessed, idea! So happy this spoke to you! You have brightened my morning!

      • And that is what I love about the blogging world—we are all there for each other in different ways across the miles –lifting each other up and becoming a part of each other’s lives. It is such an amazing blessing!

  7. You must have been reading my mind. I was wondering again last night if the time has come for me to pull back from blogging. Thanks for giving me the perspective I needed to continue. Great post.

    • Oh, Christine, I’m delighted this post gave you the reminder you needed! Your posts are such precious daily gifts to so many of us! Yes, you might need a break from time to time, but your posts mean much to so many of us, as well. Thanks for that, my friend!

  8. I now live in a house with a front porch and I love it. I can talk to the neighbors sitting on their porch and the people going by on the bike trail. I do this while reading blogs on my laptop so I’m getting the best of all social worlds.

  9. Like porches, blogs are a place to watch the world go by – yet not interacting with it

    Like porches, blogs are a place to be friendly.

    Like porches, blogs are a place to take cover from the world.

    Wonderful analogy Kathy!

  10. Pingback: Yearning for a Front Porch « Woman Wielding Words

  11. What a perfectly beautiful metaphor — front porches and blogs! — and I love how you tied it all up with your grandmothers, gratitude, and openness. We had a great GREAT front porch in our last house in Swarthmore — it was so deep you could put four 8-top round tables out there and have dinners (SO lovely!!) and I had tons of potted plants so it was really private, too. Our house in Atlanta has no front porch, just a back patio and it really is not the same. That’s on my list for the NEXT house for sure… I love when a porch brings the street to you and allows you to set a spell…. even if I never actually get around to “setting!!” Thanks for a beautiful start to a Monday morning!!

    • Glad you mentioned the issue of porch depth, because that an important factor–one that can make a porch a useful and interactive space. Distance to the street is another–good point, Betty. Great to have you stop by my porch this MOnday. Thanks for reading!

  12. While I love a good front porch, my virtual front porch is much more accommodating in that it allows me to reach all my friends from Texas to Kentucky and back again to Ohio, including Canadians and friends just off the coast of Africa. My house now has no front porch, but it does have a mighty fine swing in the back yard where I can connect with all my friends, both national and international via my laptop or Nook. (Considering I’m not all that neighborly in person, it’s probably a good thing there’s no real front porch!)…….Incidentally, Kimmy and I both suffer from migraines and, minus the menthol enhancement, I tie Jim’s bath robe tie around my head when I have a particularly bad one. It relieves some of the pressure.

    • Well I LOVE you on this front porch, Sista! We all need to find the place where we belong and can make the most impact. Your back yard swing sounds awesome, by the way. Thank you so much for explaining the pressure issue. That actually helps make that behavior in Kimmy make SO much more sense. Hugs to you, my dear! Love you!

  13. I love this one, Kathy! The blog-porch connection, the reminiscing and nostalgia, the elegant prose. And you’ve put your finger on exactly why I’ve become so attached to blogging and what role it’s filled in my life. Well done!

  14. The first home I ever knew had a porch. Any home after that, that did not have a porch, felt more like a house. I so enjoy going out on my porch to sit and read, be on my laptop, or visit with Husband and friends. Often, since we have moved, have we found ourselves on our neighbors porch to sit and talk away an afternoon or evening.

    I am glad I have had the privilege of visiting both of your porches, physical and cyberly. :)

    HUGS!

  15. What a brilliant post…had not thought of blogs as our generation’s front porch…really enjoyed reading this a lot…brought back some very fond memories of my own.

  16. Congratulations on being FP. You really deserve it with this beautifully written post. :-)

    I love how you segued from your two grannies and their porches [and I love that you included their photos!] to our blogs being our front porches. So beautiful, and so true. Sadly I haven’t had a front porch since moving to these United States, but we had one in our little house when our children were small. It was a place to chat to the neighbors while watching the children playing, and sip a cup of tea or sherry (depending on the time of day).

    • So happy to know you enjoyed this post, Rosie. I was delighted when I made the porch-blog connection. It seemed so clear. Interestingly, I didn’t start out to make that connection–it took the writing process for me to realize the relationship between the two.

      Where are you from originally?

    • Kind of sad not to have the time to sit on your porch, especially after having redone it. I’m fortunate to work from home, and even during the years I taught college writing, I only needed to be on campus for 15-20 hours a week. Hope you get to spend time on that porch next summer. Thanks for reading, Sandra. Great to hear from you.

  17. I’ve longed for a front porch for ages now. Tara and I both agree that when we buy a house together, that’s a must-have. In the meantime, we just have to make ourselves content on the back patio.

    • Patios are pretty cool, as well. But I agree that front porches matter more. Now Sara and I have to get a new front porch. Ours at the moment is awful. But it is a wrap around, which I love. Hope you and Tara get your porch soon.

  18. Kathy, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed soon! I think it’s so cool that WP is now alerting bloggers in advance, so you can brace yourself for all the wonderful comments. For this is a great blog post. I’ve often thought of the blogosphere as a big front porch where people from all over, of all backgrounds gather and exchange ideas, thoughts, experiences. I will soon be starting a new blog relating to the work I do in diversity. We were brainstorming ideas for the blog name. And one of my ideas was Front Porch Diaries, but that was knocked down. I’m happy to say that I did contribute to the final, approved title. It’s going to be called, “Hi Neighbor!” Which, if you ask me, has the same feel of being on a front porch and calling out to your neighbor as they stroll by.

    • Thanks, Monica. It really is nice that we now get advanced warning. I had none the last two times.

      Too bad your name got shot down–cause, as you might guess–I LOVE it. But, yes, “Hi, Neighbor” has a similar feel. Can’t wait to read what you write in that forum. When will it be up and running?

      Great to hear from you, my friend. Hope you’re having a great day!

  19. I’ve never put this much thought into porches. Thanks for all the insight. I have a balcony, living in a condo, and it’s a bit ..er… under the weather as well? haha

    • Ha–most folks are probably with you–haven’t thought so much about porches. Sorry to hear about your balcony’s poor health–so to speak. Great to hear from you. Hope you’ll stop by again soon!

  20. I have always loved the idea of front porches. As I pour over old pictures recently discovered I realize what a difference there is in the neighborhoods of my parents childhood to those we live in today. I think we are missing something, we have perhaps disconnected too much from our surroundings.

    You are right in your comparison to our blogs, they are our front porches. I love yours.

    • You are so, so right! I live in an old downtown neighborhood, so I sometimes forget how few folks have porches these days. This post and the comments have reminded me. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, Valentine!

  21. Wondering why you havent received a reply from me? My Lord, I was in PIttsburgh for a huge part of the day traipsing through your neighborhood. This is how your writing affects me, sending me directly to the place and time. And, I must say the porch of your childhood is in much better shape than your Kentucky porch. LOL. After I got to know the wonderful women in your family, a quick glance to the left and there was Sara’s Daily Photo Journal. Next thing I knew, I was off on another magical trip through flower gardens, pot & pans, dumpsters, herbs, nephews, uncles, pets, et al….just totally carried away to the Life you and Sara inhabit. Thats what Art does to me. Of course, my porch memories had to be revisited as well; that took several more hours of my time (none of my personal short term goals were realized yesterday due to all the traveling). My porch was huge and concrete. I loved to roller skate and play jax on it. But mostly what I loved about it had to do with thunder storms. I love storms. I’ve always loved storms. From the time I was able to toddle, hearing the approaching thunder, I would start dragging various pieces of furniture out onto the porch; and as I grew older/stronger, the furniture pieces were larger & heavier. Next, into the linen closet I would go grabbing lots of big sheets and blankets then hauling them out onto the porch. By then, it was raining cats & dogs. Flinging linens over tables and chairs, a quick city was constructed. For the duration of the storm, I was living under the canopy of sheet-city lapping up the sounds and smells of the rain & thunder; from time to time pulling back the drapes so I could enjoy the patterns of the lightning. Sometimes my little friend Henry, having heard the thunder, would run across the vacant lot that separated our houses; he loved being under the canopy with me. We would invent all kinds of stories, each choosing a part to play. We are still best friends, today. Henry is seventy and I will be sixty-nine next month. This was a really good time of my life growing up on 14th street. I think the word to describe it would be CHARMED.

    • Gosh, JK, you need to write another book, my friend! I TOTALLY love the description of your childhood on the porch. How magical–and, yes, charmed. I had never thought about how lightening would have looked through a sheeted roof. How fun! And how fun that you and Henry are still friends. You need to write more, my dear!

      So happy you found Sara’s site. She takes some great photos. At least I think she does, but I may not be entirely objective. LOL And, yes, can you believe how awful our porch is? The inside and the back garden are actually lovely. I swear. Things need repaired but the inside especially is beautifully decorated. I say that in the event that you ever want to come visit. We won’t make you sleep on the poor. Hugs to you, JK!

  22. A lovely post, Kathryn. Love your writing style….As you eased out of the history of porches and into your own history, I could feel my anticipation grow…..because you always take us on a wonderful journey! Even this post takes us right to your front porch, while at the same time, back in time. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed once again! I haven’t seen a pic from Sara recently – hope she’s doing well. Also, I want to get info on the relief efforts she is involved in….I’ve always wanted to be involved in the same thing and wondered how I go about it. Take good care and blessings to you both! xoxoJulia

    • Oh, yes, Sara is doing quite well. She has been taking photos daily and posting them in small bunches when she has the time. Thanks for asking.

      I’m delighted this post spoke to you, Julia. You are always so supportive of my writing, and, gosh, I appreciate it! Hugs to you, my dear!

  23. I have always felt that the time when architects stopped building front porches and home buyers stopped demanding them signalized a major change in the general American psyche away from the sense of community and sharing of a mutual space deeper into the need for privacy and personal “family” space–a wall against one’s neighbor. Post WWII? Sort of the Mayberry USA thing changing into the Brady Bunch and then Married With Children. We had a front porch in our home where I grew up. I miss it. Good blog, Kath.

    • Yes, yes, you have described the progression well, John, especially in terms of TV. You are right about the Brady Bunch. They didn’t have much of a front porch but did have the back patio–with astro-turf for grass, if I recall correctly. LOL Thanks for the comment John. Love hearing from you, my friend!

  24. I love this analogy. We really do wander around the neighborhood and set a spell with each other, holler across the street to get others to join the conversation, and pick up the whole party and move to the next porch.

    In my fantasies, I dream of having a porch. I want that intermediate space between privacy and the natural world where I can still lounge in a comfy chair, but sniff the lilacs when they bloom. Maybe, someday.

    • I know what you mean, Sandy. 10 years ago I would never have dreamt of having a front porch of my own. Then 6 years ago I was able to buy this house. Now, admittedly our porch leaves a LOT to be desired, but we are working on it. Hugs to you!

  25. My Nana also lives in the Pittsburgh area and used to have a front porch. I remember seeing her sitting there on those hot, humid Appalachian summers, sipping iced tea and bickering with my aunts and uncles while my cousins and I ran out into the front yard to catch lightning bugs. Such great memories.

    The analogy works well. I like the idea of a blog being a front porch, an extension of your private life into a public space and allowing people to filter through and chat for a bit before moving on. It’s a wonderful thought. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • How interesting that your Nana lived near Pittsburgh. Some childhood memories, like the ones you mention, are so precious. I like the way you’ve explained the metaphor’s success. Thank you for that–and for your comment, as well!

  26. I have a front porch. It has a little bench on it, and a honeysuckle plant growing up and over one side. It’s the kind of front porch you picture sitting on in the summer with some iced tea, enjoying the shade and the breeze as a break from the heat indoors.

    Unfortunately… there always seems to be something pulling me back inside. Whether it’s the computer, or a movie, or some craft project, or just plain cleaning. Besides, I’m set well back from the road, and don’t really have much in the way of neighbors, living in a very rural area.

    But there are certainly mornings where I get my cup of tea first thing, then go stand on the porch and shiver as I sip and watch the snow that’s starting to show on the hills to the south.

    I like watching the cats play on the grass, chasing bugs or racing up trees like something’s after them. Or watch the bees bumble around the flowers.

    I should gather up some embroidery and just sit on the front porch for a while this weekend.

    • Oh, I love your description of sipping tea on your front porch. Lovey writing. I have to be honest and admmit that I don’t spend as much time outdoors as I probably should. Too much to do inside for me, as well. Thanks so much for your comment. Hope you will stop back by soon!

    • Now that’s what we need–a porch swing! Didn’t have one of those as a kid or any time since. Great reminder. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Hope you’ll come back soon.

    • Oh, Debbie, I bet the ice cream truck was fun. We didn’t have one of those in my neighborhood–not even in my grandmother’s. Guess I missed out on that one. Thanks for your comment. Hope you’ll come back again soon. It was great having you!

  27. Great post! I’m going to be building my retirement cabin soon and now I must include a porch! My neighbors are mostly wild things, but I still talk to them and enjoy sharing a sunny afternoon with them. A covered porch would mean that even rainy afternoons would be enjoyable. Can’t wait…
    Kristine

    • Love it that you will soon get to build your retirement home. Bet that will be fun. And, yes, sometimes visiting with the “wild things” is just as fun. Great to hear from you. Hope you’ll come by again soon and let me know how your house plan is going!

  28. I grew up in Pittsburgh too, Squirrel Hill to be exact, as did my parents and my grandparents. Part of the reason why it was such an amazing place to grow up was because of our front porches. They were gathering spots for family and friends throughout the entire year. In the winter we bundled up and sat in freezing cold chairs to watch the snow fall. In the summer we barbecued and watched the fireflys blink as the sky grew dark. They were the place where we sat to receive good new and bad new, to celebrate happy occasions and mourn losses. My husband and I just bought a house, and what sold it for us was the front porch. I can just imagine us sitting on that porch throughout all the stages of our life still to come. I loved this post. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Love that you grew up in Squirrel Hill. They do have some great porches there! And I especially love your reflections on the porches of your childhood. Thanks for the stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m happy to hear from you. Thanks so much!

  29. I so love porches, they are my favorite place in a house to be. I do have a wee covered patio so that suffices for now but oh sitting out there in a storm all bundled up is so much fun. Nevermind the place you hang with those you care about, the “camp” part of the house that removes all need to be proper and simply just be. Sans Souci, I think the camp was called in a book I read. That’s what porches are to me.

    • Yes, yes, they are a carefree place, aren’t they–all about relaxing with those we love. I actually hadn’t quite made that connection. Well said. Hope you get a proper porch soon! Thanks for your comment.

  30. When people ask where I live and I tell them, they say “oh the house with the porches”. I love my front porch built all across the front of the house in 1923. I have a back porch too. We live on a corner and each house has a front porch. In the evenings we all talk back and forth from our porches. Love small town life.

    • Your current home sounds lovely. It’s even better to have more than one porch. The house I grew up in a house that had four. So happy to hear you enjoy a front-porch way of life. Thanks for your comment. Great to hear from you today.

    • Great to hear from you again, Melissa. But it’s true. We do have some great porches in our part of the US! Lexington’s are lovely, especially in some older neighborhoods. Thanks so much for your comment.

  31. I’m a little late to the party, but I just wanted to echo the sentiments already captured here. I love the use of porches to tie all these elements together. The porch is my favorite place to be.
    In the South porches are as common as kudzu, aren’t they?

    Congrats on being FP!

    • Yes, porches in the South are pretty special. And in some ways, i think the further south you go, the better they get. I was in southern Georgia last year and damn if they didn’t have some incredible porches! Thanks for reading. It’s great to hear from you. The post only came out yesterday, so you’re really not late, my friend. Greetings to Reggie, as well. LOL

  32. I have never lived in a house without a porch — and I never intend to. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, essentially having a pre-digital childhood, but I’m raising my kids in a different world, a digital neighborhood. Social media, including blogging, is my digital front porch and I welcome all.

    Welcome to Yeah Write! I have a fiction post up at The Speakeasy and, if I’m ambitious (as I often am), I might put one up on the challenge grid, too. I hope that you enjoy the community!

    • So happy to hear about your appreciation of porches–literal and virtual alike. Thanks for the welcome to Yeah Write, as well. I have to confess that I don’t understand how things over there work–like the difference between the Speakeasy and challenge grid. Just wanted to make some more connections and have a chance to share my work. A friend suggested I submit the piece I did. Great to hear from you. And good luck to you, also!

  33. That was a really interesting comparison of blogs to front porches. Never thought of it that way. Just now we were sitting on my Aunt’s porch in Tennessee enjoying the sunset, looking out at the Fall colors on the trees. It was a great bonding moment that will never be forgotten. Blogs, and the internet in general, can give you a lot more ‘neighbors’ and sometimes you meet new friends. However, the impersonal nature of the internet can also tend to cause a lot of unwanted guests. LOL.

    • Oh, good, you were enjoying a porch even as you left your comment. Perfect! Happy to hear you are sitting on your aunt’s porch, as well. I’m heading to Pennsylvania next week to visit my aunt. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon!

  34. Your thoughts and reflections on the allure of blogging ring so true! As for porches, your post reminded me of some of the concepts discussed in the book “Bowling Alone” by Robert Putnam, that I read years ago — if I recall, he discussed how the disappearance of porches (as well as other classic social activities like bowling!) reflects some of society’s increasing focus on isolating ourselves and neighbors. Rather than building homes with porches, we see fortress type fronts and fenced yards. I do think the pendulum has swung back a bit, as it so often does. And I do like that vision visiting each other’s front porches as we stop by different blogs. ~ Kat

    • OMG–I hadn’t heard of the book. Sounds like one I need to read in a serious way. I hadn’t thought much about bowling, but, gosh darn, I rarely hear about folks doing that these days. Thanks for stopping by and directing me to the Putnam book. Have a great day. Hope you’ll stop by my porch again soon.

  35. I LOVE the front porch culture and wish there was more of it. It’s one of the things I love most about living in Kenya. There are few actual porches, but visitors are welcomed and appreciated, even unannounced. I pop in and out of my neighbors house all day long and there are always members of her enormous family stopping by. There’s a great book (you’ve probably already read) about the move to the back porch and what that did to communities by Jane Jacobs, that I really loved. This post made me think of that. Simply wonderful post, terrific ideas and remembrances. Welcome to Yeah Write!!

    • So happy to hear from you. No, I had not been aware of Jacob’s book. That sounds like one I really need to read. Glad you enjoy wonderful neighbors where you live. That makes life so much richer. Thanks also for the welcome to Yeah Write. I look forward to exploring the group more. I’m tickled you appreciated my post.

  36. I love the idea of blogs as porches or open doors. It’s a really lovely way of thinking. Congrats on getting FP and good luck with your memoir!

    • Thank you. It was fun for me when I made the connetion between blogs ad porches. Glad you enjoyed thinking about it. Great to hear from you. Hope you’ll come back and hang out on my porch sometime soon.

      • Hi Kathryn, I am still very new to the blogging scene. An accountant by profession…but I will look up the blogs :). The porch culture used to be very big in South Africa too…but sadly now everyone lives behind high security walls.

      • I’ve heard that there are a number of security issues–kidnappings, etc. 2 Summers is in my blogroll. You might enjoy her. Lisa lives in the southern cape. Happy blogging. Hope you come to enjoy it as much as I do.

  37. Beautifully written post – you have a talent for putting varied things in interesting contexts. Although the homes I lived in growing up all had enclosed porches, my father built a large wooden deck which ran along the west and south sides of the house. The deck became the focalpoint. It provided ample pleasant space to sit and enjoy Midwestern spring thru fall weather, and it served well as a place to entertain on the built-in benches and corner table. The view it afforded to the south was lovely. From nearby to farthest away you could see well-manicured yards, a small-town street, horses roaming in pastures, a golf course, and fields of corn or soybeans on the horizon. This was a vista which changed beautifully with the seasons. Thanks for reminding me of another part of my life for which to be thankful.
    Your post touched upon the reasons I so enjoy blogging, and I thank you for that too. I wish you and your family all the best. Congrats on being FP.

    • Thank you, William. I’m happy this post worked for you and you think I put varied things together well. My mind is kind of quirky. So happy to hear about your memories, as well. Sounds like a lovely setting you grew up in. I’ve loved hearing from you and hope you’ll stop by my porch again sometime soon.

  38. Being from Pittsburgh and currently living in the East End neighborhood of Wilkinsburg, I find this post hits very close to home. I am thrilled to be following your blog and hope to read some more great posts from you in the future. Thank You

    • Thank you for your comment. I visited your blog and left a comment. LOVE that you’re from Pgh and are into urban gardening. I’ll forward your blog to my partner Sara, as I suspect she would enjoy it, as wel. Thanks for stopping by, Chris, and taking the time to leave a comment.

  39. Great reflection on porches, connections, and love. I have noticed that not only are porches disappearing, but so are neighborhoods. People don’t even know their next door neighbors anymore. What worries me is that you might be right that blogs are modern day porches with new notions of proximity, but are we spending too much time with virtual neighbors and not enough time with our real neighbors? How many of our real neighbors read our blogs?

    • I have to agree with you! We are losing our traditional sense of neighborhood. I actually thought about how so few folks even know their neighbors these days. Sad, isn’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by my porch and leaving a comment. I appreciate hearing from you!

  40. I too have always wanted a porch of my own. I grew up in a house with a wrap-around porch and it shocks me that I may be considering buying a house without a porch. Your post however has elevated blogging to the level of porches, and as a blogger I am flattered. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the ‘pressing”!

  41. Terrific metaphor–more and more I see that people are finding support for who they really are online and being inspired by the global community in a society where our physical neighbors often seem less relevant. In spite of the issues with teenagers saying terrible things online that they rarely would in a face to face interaction, the blogging and twitter communities tend to be positive and kind to a truly amazing degree.
    So, great porch you have here! And congrats on the fresh pressing.

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed my porch! The literal one is a bit worn out, the but virtual one is humming along. Like you, I have found great support in the blogosphere. It’s actually been delightful. I’ve even made a number of bloggers who visit my site–one from as far away as Japan. It’s been so fun. Happy to hear your enjoy blogging, as well. Thanks so much for your comment.

  42. This is fantastic. It made me nostaglic and a little sad that the house I’m buying doesn’t have a porch. It has a stoop, which is a traditional sitting spot, but that’s not the same and we all know it. My father’s parents, rowhome occupiers in Philadelphia, had a front porch with, of course, a green awning. It was a summer spot for the family, as well as the small yard that dropped off into the street in front. Particularly on the Fourth of July. They had a backyard, too, but my grandmother couldn’t see the neighborhood kids from there, and she loved to listen to them play. Gave her vitality. My mom’s parents didn’t have a front porch – they had one in the back, just a little concrete thing big enough for two chairs. I remember spinning off the steps while twirling in circles when I was a little girl, cracking my head on the ground. And I remember my grandmother sitting on a 60s flower-print vinyl chaise talking to everything that moved.

    Thanks for reminding me.

    • I’m tickled to hear from you, as I see your comments at so many of the blogs I read. I suppose we move in the same circles to some degree. How fun to hear about your childhood. Thanks for sharing your memories. I hope you will come by again soon. I definitely need to visit your blog. And I will!

  43. Pingback: Front porches of a digital age : Gunky.org

  44. Our culture is in the same tattered condition as your old, unrepaired porch. Getting back to the community that the good old porches represented would go a long ways in fixing things. Besides healing loneliness…that the likes of Facebook and others will never be able to do.

    • Couldn’t agree more that there are many things about our older approach to neighboring that were better. At the same time, Facebook has helped many folks reconnect with long-lost friends from childhood. It has for me, so that’s been cool. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to offer this important and very true reminder.

  45. I am so happy to be able to sit on your front porch while you tell me stories, even though we are thousands of miles apart, it is a welcoming and wonderful place to be. Blog on, my friend!

  46. I lived in a neighborhood in Houston in a house with a porch. One of the happiest days from that time was sitting on the porch with friends during the neighborhood home tour and inviting passing strangers to join us. Now I live in a house buried behind trees down a long drive with no porch. I didn’t fully appreciate that porch. But, as you say, blogging does serve as a virtual porch. What a surprising and lovely lifesaver it has been. Congrats on your fresh press; it’s given me a happy thought to hold.

    • So happy this post brought you some happy thoughts. Your Houston experience sounds lovely–though I suppose all of the trees you now have would be inviting in their own way. Thanks so much for your comment. Great to hear from you!

  47. What a fantastic post, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside reading about the days with your Nana! I agree that the blogger community is like a small arch back to the days of interacting freely with those around us :-)

    • So happy to have added some warm-fuzzies to your Wednesday. Glad you enjoyed my post-porch or porch-post, I should say. I appreciate your comment. Thanks so much taking the time to weigh in. Great to hear from you.

  48. Do you believe the appearance of the porch really keep out intruders while you are away, that’s hilarious. Congratulations on being freshly pressed. I love porches myself, grew up with them.

    • No, no, of course not. I think I said that we used to “joke” about it. If anything, the porch’s shape indicates just how vulnerable our house actually is. SOmetimes one just has to laugh. Seemed more important to respond to the Haiti earthquake than worry about the disaster that was our porch. Our porch was, indeed, laughable in comparison to the more legitimage collapse. Truly the Haitians living in tents would have been delighted with that porch, I suppose. Glad you got a laugh out of this. Great to hear from you!

  49. Just started my blog, FINALLY, after two years of contemplating why anyone would even care to read it. Searching for other blogs to follow, and BOOM, run across this. I just love the analogy you’ve given. The blog as the porch, porches reincarnated as blogs. I didn’t grow up in a neighborhood where we had porches, or people sat on their porches, but my dad did. And, though my grandmother passed when I was 5, my cousin, who grew up with my father remained in the house. And, when I was young, I would always say I wanted to move in with her just for this reason. Because I could sit on the porch and speak to people, because the neighborhood was always so busy. When I graduated from college, I finally did that for three months, since, of course I didn’t want to move back home. And I tell you, those days that she and I would just leave the door open and parade down the hall from the kitchen to the porch, which had been screened in when my grandparents got older, were some of the best!! A simple pleasure for sure. Glad to have found this today!

    • I’m so happy you found me, as well. Blogging is lots of fun and great way to meet new people. I love that you ejoyed spending time with your grandmother on her porch. If only I coud do it again, one more time. At any rate, great to “meet” you. I look forward to checking out your blog. Welcome to the blogoshpere.

  50. Reading this post has been nostalgic for me. I am from India, and we call front porches as ‘verandas’. My parents home, in a village in Kerala, still has a front porch, where I remember, on vacations, sitting with my grandmother when she was alive. After breakfast and the morning newspaper, she’d sit on one of the four wicker chairs and watch the kids run to catch their bus, young men walking to work, the neighbours going about their daily tasks. She never really did need newspapers. She got all her news sitting here.

    I also remember here pointing to the mango tree and saying that it had budded. She couldn’t walk, but sitting on the front porch, she would observe which trees had fruit, which trees weren’t budding, if any branches were broken in yesterday nights rain, and inform my parents to see to each trees need. She told me which song belonged to which bird. and pointed out who was related to whom and could identify every motor vehicle by sound.

    Thank you for helping me re-live these memories by capturing the essence of what front porches had in your life. I am a little hesitant to compare blogs to front porches. Wonderful friendships could be struck anywhere in any medium, but I do think for a meaningful “friendship” to exist or at least to develop, they should in some way be in touch almost daily. But as a window to the wider world, I cannot think of a better vehicle. I have seen so many well informed, educative articles, about culture and history, about cultivating hobbies and overcoming challenges. So many of them inspire me to be a blogger that would give back to this community that is so free with their knowledge and wisdom and encouragement. Long live the blog. :)

    • I couldn’t agree with you more that blogging is only one of many ways to connect, but it is a good one. I SOOOOOO enjoyed your descriptions of your grandmother on the veranda. What great memories.

      Happy blogging to you. Hope you’ll stop by again sometime soon. By the way, I was in India 2 years ago–one of my favorite countries!

    • Ha! Great to hear from you for my Freshly Pressed celebration. Glad you enjoyed this post. Loved reading you at yeah write! Good luck this week. I got such a kick out of your TP post! Great story-telling.

  51. This post has been very insightful, especially to a person with no front-or-back-porch background. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being part of your virtual porch community, even if only for a few minutes.

  52. I loved this circular post describing front porches, and how they were inhabited by your family, and bringing it back around to blogs as front porches. Impressive. Because I enjoyed it so much I clicked the link to read Ch. 1 of your memoir. I was unprepared for the juxtaposition of the FBI raiding your house, and this post of grandmothers and front porches. Intriguing. I enjoyed Ch. 1. Starting off with the raid is great. As you get so many comments I’m sure everything has been said. I’ll come back to read more. For now, it’s nice to meet you.

    • I can’t tell you how happy I am to get YOUR comment–even though there are many others. And I appreciate your reading the first chapter of my memoir. You’re right–it is a strange juxtaposition. But then again, I’ve lead a less-than-ordinary life, I suppose. I would totally love it if you came back. Loved having you visit!

    • Oh, I hope you will check out my memoir, as well. I will be sharing more about it next week, as I am headed “home” to Pennsylvania for several days. I’m delighted you enjoyed this post, but please come back again soon for more about the memoir! And thanks so much for your comment!

  53. If the world had a front porch we could solve all our problems, or so says a popular country song. :) I’m from Texas and I grew up hanging out on the front porch or back porch. Great memories; thank for posting. :)

  54. What a wonderful article and a very good point! Bloggers definitely have their own community, and I love the idea that leaving a comment is like a fellow blogger “setting a spell” (we say that in Ohio, too:-) ) Very well written; I look forward to reading more. Welp, I reckon it’s time for me to “get on” and go set a spell on another blogger’s front porch:-)

    • Your comment made me chuckle. I appreciate your having “set a spell” on my porch. As you stroll the blogosphere in coming days, I hope you will stop back by and pull up a chair. I’ll even offer you a cup of tea–or another beverage of your choice. Thanks for the comment!

  55. I love the thought of blogs as a front porch. That is really so very perfect.

    My family wasn’t a porch kind of family, but I always loved them. One day I hope to live in a house that has a nice porch out front.

    Your memoir sounds very interesting!

    • I’m so happy to hear from you, Tracie. I enjoyed your post on yeahwrite this week. I, too, enjoy writing about my childhood. I hope you will come by again next week for more on my memoir! Thanks for your comment!

    • How great to hear from you, Lisa. Hope you’re feeling okay. It’s always fun to get a comment from someone who has been reading me for so, so long. You were the original, my friend. Sorry you don’t have many porches, but I DO know you have a great garden.

    • Thanks, Marianne. There are a lot of comments. I love hearing from you on this FP occasion, since YOU were one of my very first, if not THE first, readers–along with Lisa, who commented just above. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  56. I love the analogy of the blog to the front porch. Very clever – and true. My grandmother was a porch-dweller, but I grew up an army brat, and only recently have I given myself to hospitality and reaching out. Now I can see blogging as an extention of this new discipline. Thank you!

    • I would imagine that frequently relocating as an army brat would not be conducive to neighbor-building–if that could even be a term. But–how great that you are changing that now. It can feel good to be grounded. I think if one is on the move, it’s not as easy to reach out.

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you’ll come back by soon. I’ll have a chair waiting for you!

    • I”m so happy to hear you enjoyed my post. I suppose a porch can be appreciated from afar. You’re good.

      It’s great to hear from you, porchless or not! Hope you’ll come by again soon! Thanks for your comment.

  57. Trust me to realize you were FP’ed again only after reading someone’s comment on your latest post! Congratulations and a BIG hug Kathy! Bow to thee! So proud to have known you since the days you had been FP’ed only once! ;)
    And did I tell you this was a brilliant analogy? I read one of your comments where you said that it only came to you as you were writing….that is so cool. Love it when that happens.
    You are one heck of a blogger.

    • You’re sweet, Mun. I don’t know that it’s all that great, but apparently someone at WP liked it. I truly think it’s a matter of the right editor stumbling on the right post. I think the process is rarely fair. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!

  58. I don’t have a porch, but I do have a front deck. I can honestly say that I’ve never enjoyed sitting in my back yard – way to closed off for my taste. It’s so much nicer to be out front, seeing what’s happening where you live.

    • I have to agree, Vanessa. I like to be able to see what’s happening in the neighborhood, which is lots easier from the front. And I think a deck works just as well as a porch. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Come back soon.

  59. We have a large front porch and so many important conversations have happened there as well as fun times. I love this analogy because it is soooo true.

    • I’m so happy to hear this analogy works for you. It was fun for me when I made the connection. Glad you’ve had good times on a front porch. Great to hear from you. Hope you’ll stop by again soon! Thanks for your comment.

  60. This was utterly inspiring, Kathy. To compare front porches to blogging~~YES! It’s a new era, and it’s so fun to sit in our rocking chairs and spin stories. (P.S. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed again!)

  61. We just had a new front porch installed so I can relate to the old, falling down porch. I love the comparison of blogging to the front porch. Wonderful! :)

    • Thank you, Robin. It was fun to realize the parallel between blogs and porches. It came to me during the writing process, not before, interestingly. Glad you’ve gotten a new porch. We need one DESPERATELY! Great to hear from you, my friend.

  62. I was just going through freshly pressed and found this ! .. The one thing I love about my new home is the verandah – or porch – that is huge ! Now I just need an old rocking chair and it will be perfect ! Xx Kel

  63. You’re so right! Love this post!

    I’ve always wished for a front porch, but have never had one. My grandma’s house had one though. Almost all of the homes in her neighborhood did. And we kids loved to play out there. Grandma’s porch was enclosed with windows – something my dad said wasn’t original to the house, but was a trend that most of the homeowners followed over the years (maybe due to the Minnesota weather?)

    I loved reading that Kimmy used Ben Gay to cure her headaches. It’s a remedy I remember from my childhood. My dad had a lot of headaches. I inherited the headache gene and spent a lot of time suffering with them too. We ALWAYS had a tube of Ben Gay around to rub on our foreheads and the back of our necks.

    • Wow, I’m totally fascinated that you, too, used Ben Gay for headaches. I never quite understood what it did to help and wondered if other people used it. Sorry you get headaches, but this is good to know.

  64. Kathryn,
    It has been ages since I stopped by for a glass of iced tea on your front porch. It’s ironic that today when I decided to skip the dishes and sit on my grandmother’s 42-year old verandah (in Accra, Ghana) and read blogs, this is what I found. Thank you for the chance to re-live a part of US history and a chance to look at my own. You have inspired me to go take lost of pictures from our verandah.

    • How great to hear from you and know you read my post from your grandmother’s veranda. Now that’s synchronicity if I’ve ever heard it. Would love to see the photos you take. Thanks for taking a break and stopping by!

  65. Pingback: Blogging and the virtual neighborhood | Big Big Design

  66. You’ve really touched on an important topic here. Being from the south, front porches are as much a part of our culture as gardening and pie safes. The grandparents all liked sitting on the porch and gathering with friends, family, and neighbors there. I think we are losing that. And we are collecting our ‘tribes’ to gather with through our blogs. You and I follow a lot of the same bloggers, so I’m glad I stopped by today and discovered such an insightful post from you.

    • Sorry it’s taken me a couple of days to get to your comment. Christmas crazy has come early to my life. LOL At any rate, thank you so much for your comment. Love your use of the word “tribe.” Perfect, isn’t it? I think you’re right, front porches are even a more significant cultural phenomenon in the South. As a transplant from North to South, I should have thought of that. Thanks for pointing it out!

      So happy you stopped by. Hope you will come by again. I’ll hope over to your “porch” as soon as I respond to my comments this morning.

  67. Freshly Pressed again!?! You sure are one brilliantly talented lady and I am so glad to call you my friend. Great post, Kathy and now I’m thinking about how I miss having a front porch.

    Have a wonderful evening!
    Hugs,
    Currie

  68. I love the comment about blogs being like front porches. We didn’t have a front porch when I was growing up, nor would it have been useful as the nearest neighbor was a half mile away. But I recently renovated my 100 year old farm-house and added a wrap around porch that becomes another room in the summer and I love it!

  69. Pingback: A Means to Survive: A Justification for Blogging « everyday gurus

  70. Beautiful blog… I love porches and love the connection you make with your neighbors when you live in a neighborhood full of these wonderful porches. Now living in a home that does not have a front porch, I miss this but have been able to gain some of those same feelings through blogging. Thanks again for making this connection for me.

    • Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Sorry I’m so late responding to it. The holidays have left me behind on a lot of things, I’m afraid. So great to have you stop by my porch. Happy New Year!

  71. Hi Kathy, thanks for bringing back fond childhood memories. As children, we use to play stoop ball and hang out on the front porch till sundown. Nowadays, the blogosphere does provide this sense of virtual community, kinda like a town hall meeting. Good times!

    • Oh, yes, the blogosphere is a LOT like a town hall meeting. I hadn’t thought of that comparison. Please forgive my being so far behind on responding to your comment. The holidays have kept me away from my blog, I’m afaid. Great to hear from you! Hope you’ll come again soon!

  72. Kathy,
    Awesome post! God, this was written like a Reader’s Digest article. Perfect.

    You bring up a lot of good conversational pieces here. First off, I’m glad to hear that they’re bringing the front porch back. There are so many homes that were built within the past decade and a half that don’t have one. Lose the porch, and you lose your neighbors. I don’t even know half my neighbors!

    I’m in construction, and it’s something that me and a buddy of mine have been talking about doing for awhile now [bringing it back].

    I love your analogy about blogs acting as a front porch. That’s exactly the purpose they serve. I love this whole experience. Of course it’s a great creative outlet, but more importantly, It’s connected me with so many cool people — people from around the world. That rocks.

    It doesn’t just make us visible to each other, it actually brings people together — friendships. I feel closer to the people that I speak with on here than I do with a lot of my real friends. My blog buddies probably know a lot more about me too. Just goes to show how powerful a tool it is.

    Great article. You’re a super talent. And congrats, looks like another FP nod!

    Adam

    • Hey, Adam, thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed this post. Your description of blogging benefits is so on the mark. I have made so many friends through mine–and met 5 of them in person. Can’t tell you how fun that’s been!

      Thanks for stopping by today. As you know, FP is pretty darn fun. It helps one build one hell of a front porch. But I think you have special gift for bringing people together–truly, my friend. You are destined for huge blogging success.

  73. Reblogged this on Front Porch Time and commented:
    I greatly enjoy the idea of how blogs are a digital front porch. I still prefer to sit on my front porch and watch the community, then sit on the computer, but I still love the idea.

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