FutureHeights programs encourage front-porch culture

This sign in the Forest Hill neighborhood encouraged neighbors and passersby to stop and visit with one another.

On July 17, FutureHeights facilitated a public forum titled “Placemaking: How to Create a Front Porch Culture.” The event, in which four panelists discussed the ways in which they created front-porch cultures in their neighborhoods, took place at The BottleHouse Brewing Company, with more than 40 Heights residents attending. 

Dawn Arrington and Katharyne Starinsky spoke about their experiences helping to coordinate Larchmere’s Annual PorchFest, a free music festival that takes place on 30 different front porches in the Larchmere neighborhood. Through help from residents and volunteers, the event now welcomes more that 9,000 attendees. Starinsky, one of the events founders, remarked that, although the festival has grown tremendously, residents and organizers remain committed to it being a neighborhood grown and neighborhood serving.

Patrick Freed spoke about how he creates community through his business, Free Styles Barber Shop. Wanting to leverage both his business and education backgrounds, Freed partnered with the Noble Neighborhood Library to provide children’s books in his barbershop. He is also coordinating with several other barbershops through this initiative. Freed commented that he’s looking ahead to all possibilities and ways in which he and other business owners can contribute to the community, and expressed the hope that this will encourage residents to utilize businesses and shops as spaces for community building.

Tammy Wise discussed how residents can create a front-porch culture in their own neighborhoods, even if the houses do not have a traditional front porch. One idea that she has seen in some neighborhoods is placing chairs on a front lawn, and sitting there as one would on a front porch. She also provided several ideas for neighborhood events, such as a chili cook-off, a block party, or a donut day.

Stories from the panel sparked conversation and comments from attendees, who shared their own anecdotes about creating front-porch cultures in their communities. One Forest Hill neighborhood resident showed the crowd a yard sign used to promote conversation among neighbors that stated “Stop here and chat.” Another resident mentioned beginning a whiskey-tasting club in her area, as well as a clothing exchange. Other ideas, such as cooking classes, block parties, and dog-friendly events were discussed as well.

FutureHeights wants to support neighborhood efforts to create front-porch culture. Those interested should consider applying for a Neighborhood Mini-Grant this fall, or participating in the Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series in spring 2019. For more information about these programs, visit: http://www.futureheights.org/programs/community-building-programs/.

Courtney Arbogast

Courtney Arbogast is an Americorps VISTA Summer Associate at FutureHeights.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.14.2018