Porching Since 1875
This article first appeared on the No Mean City website. Photos by Polina Osherov.
I didn’t grow up with a front porch. My suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood featured patios and screened-in porches where families gathered in the privacy of their own backyards. It was a happy life, but moving to urban Indianapolis changed my perspective of what community experience could be. We chose the Herron-Morton Place neighborhood whose historic homes boast large porches, small front yards, and sidewalks made to build a community where people intersect and interact. The good old-fashioned neighborhood design encourages us all to know and be known. It has that Indy small town feel I’ve come to know and love.
Our family began watching Colts games with neighbors, and that led to tailgating on one of our porches, enjoying a beer and snacks for an hour before the game. Eventually, football season ended, but we didn’t want the long conversations and relaxation time with friends to end. Our tailgates became “porching,” and now, every Sunday, someone will text “porch?” By 3:00 p.m., we’re gathered on someone’s front porch, laughing and sharing the stories of our week.
We have a core group that porches every week, but we are not exclusive. We always invite a handful of guests to join us and welcome the passersby who stop to chat. Our crew is diverse–singles, young marrieds, empty nesters, and teenagers. It doesn’t matter; the porch seems to unite us. We enjoy it when our guests come back, but it has been even more fun to watch them begin their own gatherings, creating a movement of porching in Indianapolis. The porch has become our countercultural weapon to create presence as a community—something many have lost thanks to the advent of privacy fences and attached garages.
Having grown up in the suburbs, I never would have thought moving into urban Indianapolis, so close to major cultural attractions, the center of government, and a growing restaurant scene would result in my introduction to what feels like small town living. But our houses have porches, and they symbolize a community with a sense of knowing, belonging, and connecting.
In fact, my own neighborhood just adopted a slogan for 2015: “Porching since 1875.” It isn’t too late for you to join us! Porching isn’t just for small towns anymore, and it is needed now more than ever in our cities and neighborhoods where we spend so little time thinking about the world outside our home’s walls. Welcoming friends and family not into your home but onto your front porch builds community and deepens friendships in a unique way. Indianapolis is a big city with a small town feel. Let’s keep it that way.
HOW TO PORCH, A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
- Pick a weekend afternoon or evening.
- Invite 6-10 neighbors.
- Serve refreshing drinks like lemonade or gin and tonic in the summer. Offer cider or martinis in the cooler months.
- Offer local cheeses or meats, olives, crackers, and nuts from Goose the Market, Wildwood Market, or another community grocer.
- If you have time, get creative and make your own blue cheese crackers, pimento dip, guacamole, or other recipe to share.
- Put on some favorite music.
- Gather porch furniture around a small table filled with fixings.
- Enjoy good conversation, community, and a chance to connect with your neighborhood in a new way.
- Take pictures and share on social media—not to brag or exclude, but to encourage others to begin porching.
- Smile and wave at each passerby. The point is to be inclusive, not exclusive, and to build a sense of community and togetherness.