I really struggled with a title for this post, full disclosure. However, I really think that this is a topic that needs to be discussed, so I am going to focus less on a snappy title and more on the content within the article.
The front porch is slowly disappearing from both the urban and suburban landscape. The allocation of space has shifted in home design over the last 40 years, and one of the biggest shifts has been the exclusion of the front porch. The porch was an absolute staple during the Victorian Era, because it had a variety of uses. It was the first checkpoint for any callers, sleeping porches came in vogue during the turn of the century, and, most importantly, they provided an area to connect with neighbors.
Culturally, what we view as normal social interaction has changed. The vast majority of the time spent walking from one place to another is focused on our phone, ipod, social media, or simply trying to avoid eye contact with strangers. One of my favorite parts about living in Broad Ripple is that complete strangers will wave at me, more or less because they recognize my dog, car, or something else that's fairly distinguishable. If I am on my bike heading to the Ripple Bagel and Deli, and can count on at least 3-4 smiles or waves along the way. Heck, I wave or gesture at everyone. I think it is part of what makes Broad Ripple great.
If we can agree that we have become less social with strangers and wholly more introverted, what does that have to do with the porch? I mean, we still like being outside, right? Of course we do! But, that space has shifted to an area that is secluded, protected from outsiders, and can hose friends and family safely. The backyard deck and patio. Where we once sipped lemonade or read the morning paper, said hi to our neighbor and his dog, or watched the kids ride their bikes, has been replaced by the backyard patio, barbecue, and privacy fence. When we are in the backyard only the people who we permit to join us are present. It is very similar to our social networks. Facebook has intricate privacy settings to assure that you don't make contact with strangers, and that's the way we like it. It is the same as our outdoor congregating spaces. Put me in the back so I don't have to awkwardly speak with the guy across the street.
All of this is to the detriment of the porch. She's a glorious piece of space, and she should be loved and nurtured. Your porch is the first point contact between you and the people who live around you. Your porch is the first step in turning those people from strangers into neighbors.