8.20.2007

Don't Say Oodbye

Sorry, Brett, didn't mean to jump on the bandwagon, but I did. I do appreciate your comment.

Interesting post on the mental_floss blog about the advent of air conditioning in homes. It recalls ways people kept their houses cool without air-conditioning, and then mentions another architectural feature that was a way people stayed cool:
The front porch was an alternative to hot homes, and became a means of social interaction. If you weren’t sitting on your own porch in the cool of the evening, you could stroll the neighborhood and visit other families sitting on their porch.

On hot nights, the porch was a cooler place to sleep. Apartment dwellers would sleep on the fire escape when it was unbearably hot indoors. The widespread use of the automobile, television, and air conditioning killed the front porch as a social institution.

I never thought of air conditioning as the culprit to the demise of the front porch, but I do see the connection. As it is, I hope to spend more time outside when we have a house, porch or no. Grilling out, working in the garden, and inviting friends around the trendy "outdoor fireplace" (bonfire pit!) and making smores are all on my list to enjoy. Maybe, this way, I 'll fight the tug of the television, drawbridge (attached garage), and air conditioning, and encourage the community- and relationship-centered philosophy that the Front Porch symbolizes.

7 comments:

Beth @ The Natural Mommy said...

So... is there a reason you omitted the "G" in "Goodbye"?

:-)

And I totally want to go back to the Front Porch Days. The people in this apartment complex are SO much friendlier than any other I've lived in (possibly because they're international...) and whenever I'm on the balcony, my neighbors always shout out greetings...

*Sigh*

bfine107 said...

The Front porch is well used in our neighborhood. I guess not being able to use furniture is good for something.

Joanna said...

Yes, there is Beth. Check out the first link, to the comments in a couple posts ago.

It really wasn't very nice of me to continue making fun of Brett.

And, I think it's cool that both you guys do use your front porch, and meet neighbors. Beth, I know at your place, the porches face each other, so you would be able to wave to people. At ours, none of the balconies face anyone else (ours faces a busy road, and we can't see any other balconies), so the social aspect is lost.

Brett said...

Wow. One typo (ok, probably one of many) and I'll probably never live it down.

Well, ood day. I said ood day!

Seriously, front porches are great and it's disappointing that so many people don't know (and don't care to know) their neighbors as they did in the past. Here's an interesting article about the evolution of the front porch. The "Decline" portion is especially pertinent. It mentions AC but also lists the growth of the automobile as a culprit, stating that having a lot of cars on the road made the front porch a less serene place to linger.

On a side note, I met a few of our neighbors last night. I'm sure I'll forget many of their names but they all seemed very, very nice. They offered to help us settle in. One was helping a neighbor kid work on his car. I felt more like a community than anyplace I've lived since my dorm at Ball State. Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting to know my neighbors.

Matt said...

We are blessed to have just moved to a neighborhood where people really do pause in front of each others' houses to chat, and regularly gather to socialize.

But when they do gather to socialize, it's not on a front porch. It's on a back deck. That has advantages and disadvantages. On the downside, one does not feel as welcome to just stroll around (or through) someone's house to join in a conversation on a back deck. And someone strolling past is unlikely to even be aware that anything is going on back there to begin with.

But on the upside, once people are together on a back deck, it's inevitable that the grill will be fired up and a meal will be shared. Plus with a nice fenced yard, swingset, etc. it really becomes a family event where kids can be kids and parents don't have to watch them like hawks.

Still, whether it's the front yard or the back yard, you have to coax people out of their house to make either one happen. When we moved in, we decided to make some cookies and take them around to all our neighbors. That was a great way to start breaking that barrier of isolation that A/C, cars, TV, etc. has created. I hope we will continue to do it on a monthly basis, to break it down even further.

Joanna said...

That's great that in both your new neighborhoods, you've found friendly neighbors. It's so much easier to "Love your neighbor" when you've actually met them.

ashley@twentysixcats said...

I've always said that the best way to meet your neighbors is to get a dog! You're outside walking your dog, and you see your neighbors, you call out hi... sometimes you stop and talk. Or you have to go knock on their doors to apologize for your dog or something. :-)

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