“Sit down a spell. That’ll wait.” So says Claude Stephens, founder of the Professional Porch Sitters Union Local 1339. On Saturday, August 1, Point Breeze residents will be opening their porches to neighbors and friends and we invite you to join us for a chat...whether you have something worthwhile to say or not.
Porches were a necessity before air-conditioning. They were places to sit and catch a breeze and even sleep. They were places to relax and watch the world go by, say hello to your neighbors, and even have short conversations with others. These private/public spaces were a way to see and know your neighbors and feel part of a community.
But after World War II, the suburbs grew, and people began to socialize in the more private backyard areas of their homes. Newer homes, especially in the suburbs, were not built with porches. With air-conditioning and the demise of the outhouse and the coal porch, families could have private decks and patios to enjoy.
Douglas Kelbaugh, a professional urban planner and dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture, talks about the importance of porches on the NPR show, All Things Considered. He claims that, especially in today’s world where we are continuously bombarded with technology, face-to-face live interaction between people is crucial to building and sustaining community. Porches are a great way to facilitate these types of interactions.
The Point Breeze Organization is working to get us out on our porches and talking with neighbors—even if just for one evening. On August 1, residents of Point Breeze will open up their porches and invite neighbors to chat and perhaps share an iced tea. All residents are welcome to join in. You can sign up formally on the PBO Porch Crawl registration page or simply signal that you are open for a chat with a balloon, ribbon, or sign. Some neighbors are providing refreshments but your company is all that is required.
Don't have a porch? Then why not take this opportunity to stroll the neighborhood and visit with others on their porches? Porches are open from 6 pm to 9 pm. (Participant map)
Learn more about porch living from Professional Porch Sitters founder Claude Stephens at
For other reading and listening about porches:
· The American Porch: An Informal History of an Informal Place by Michael Dolan
· A Spell on ‘The American Porch, NPR guest host John Ydstie speaks with Michael Dolan
You can see photos from the 2014 Point Breeze Porch Crawl, as well as last year's National Night Out and other Point Breeze activities and neighborhood views, at the PBO Facebook Page.