How do you have closeness to neighbours but still feel comfortably away? How can you be friendly but not so friendly, and still maintain the necessary “physical distancing”?
In many ways the porch, the entrance way to many older homes and one of the components brought forward “providing eyes on the street” is making a comeback. The porch has been described as an essential feature in neotraditional communities like Celebration Florida that aims to bring neighbours closer together.
And it does not need to be a real porch either~I am hearing the discussion of virtual porches on webinars as web based places where people can congregate and have a chat.
As Donna Liquori describes in the New York Times “the porch fell out of favour with the advent of air-conditioning in the 1950’s, replacing the porch which was traditionally the place where “people gathered and cooled off”. Porches are now back to places of socialization and relaxation, and surprisingly are being valued more than a backyard deck for that aspect of human contact and exchange with passersby.
As Liquori states ” the privacy of the back of the house is not what I crave right now. Even just seeing other people from afar has given us a boost. We want to see our friends and neighbors. We miss them.”
The porch is also being described as a social vehicle, with the concept that people walking in the public realm feel as comfortable doing that as on their front porch.
Photographer Roger Hoover was one of the first of a series of photographers who with their businesses shuttered by the corona virus commenced photographing residents. Neighbours are asked to stand on their front stoops and porches for a photograph. Hoover’s work documents the isolation of families who cluster to pose for the camera, and also reinforces the importance of the porch as a welcome semi-private space, in Covid times, providing separation but still part of the street life of the neighbourhood.Read more »