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10 Responses to “Power of Porches”

  1. marble says:

    For a blisteringly funny indictment of the ‘design elements’ of suburbia – and our current notion of pubic space – you might enjoy this somewhat dated TED talk by James Howard Kunstler, “The Ghastly Tragedy of the Suburbs”:

    [Language and political correctness warnings]

    This is a laugh-out-loud funny indictment of how we’ve been “designing” our living spaces effectively to exclude people. Serendipitously, I posted this just a few days ago on Facebook. . . .

  2. marble says:

    If that embed link doesn’t come through, here’s the link itself:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/james_howard_kunstler_dissects_suburbia?language=en

  3. David Greusel says:

    Yes!

    The main thing subdivisions are not is neighborhoods. The lack of (or vestigial) front porches is only the most obvious evidence. Also to blame: air conditioning (as Mike points out), culs-de-sac, garage door openers, and missing sidewalks. Postwar subdivisions are designed NOT to be neighborhoods, and they work well for their intended function.

  4. Trent McEntyre says:

    The front porch is a great sign about the direction that our lives ought to go.

    Mike, I’d like to hear more about the distinction between inner, outer, and middle rings of relationships. I wonder if the middle ring only works if you go into it to give rather than receive? Does the middl require a greater sense of personal security and peace? The middle is dangerous, the inner and outer seem safer.

    Jesus’ parable of the banquet in Luke 14 paints a picture of the kingdom of God that resonates with the power of porches.

  5. Gerard says:

    Mike,

    I appreciate the language of inner, outer, and middle relationships and the recommended reading of The Vanishing Neighborhoods.

    I am intrigued how the command “love your neighbor” is the middle sphere which in some ways, costs the most but is the easiest to neglect.

  6. Mike Metzger says:

    Marble: I bet you meant to write “public.” Thanks anyway for your comments. Smile.

    As for the other comments, Montesquieu felt there were physical limits – geographical limits, if you will – if democracy was to be sustained. We’ve obviously forgotten about those limits. We can live far away from our work and place of worship and not be bothered by this at all.

    Gerard: This is what is meant by rings. I have friends with an inner ring (family) and an outer ring (they have to drive pretty far to get to church). They have no middle ring – neighborhood friends… people who call up and say “let’s catch dinner.”

    I felt this lack of middle rings living in the ‘burbs. Can’t say I did much about it, other than Kathy & I having to do the heavy lifting of organizing neighborhood parties. Very few reciprocated. Like 1%.

    Interesting that we rightly talk about “building community” yet often overlook how the built environment makes it extraordinarily difficult to build community. I know a man who does this, but he expends extraordinary effort building networks. When you have to get in your car to bump into people, you’ve pretty much erased the odds of serendipity (which is critical to community). Kathy & I have found that very very very few folks are good at reciprocating and building middle rings, neighborhoods, communities.

  7. Phil Monetti says:

    Mike,
    Yes, your blog brings back happy memories of us and our neighbors sitting on our front porches on warm summer evenings. Our preoccupation with TV and computers have not helped us become more “neighborly”.

  8. Tim Smick says:

    My porch is in the back of my house and the beach is where I visit our neighbors most frequently. There is something about the beach that “opens up” people to want to connect in a relaxed fashion. We hosted a gathering of 33 of our neighbors last Saturday and the sense of community we derived from that time assures me that we will host many others.

    BTW, the movie “Avalon” very eloquently portrays the suburb dynamic of which you speak.

    Tim

  9. marble says:

    Ah, the difference a letter makes. . . . [eeek] Yes, you caught the correct meaning!

  10. Sara O says:

    I found the both the post and comments very interesting. And the images and some of the themes of the movie “Avalon” were passing before my eyes, too!

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