Porch-People Subculture

The Porch-People Subculture

:Lindsay Knapp

It’s about as annoying as a mosquito buzzing in your ear; the idea that we are living in a technology dependent age, … and it’s not letting up.  Yes, it’s easy to talk about how positive these advances are, and I’m not here to debate either way. The fact is: there will be ongoing discoveries that lead to greater levels of assimilation and dependency on satellites and texting. google and ipads integrated into education are all foreshadowings of how “connected” we will be in the years to come.

And the annoying part, the buzz that no one can seem to permanently shake, is the quality of connection we are running toward.  I’m not talking about having a sufficient amount of bars on your phone to receive data. Not that kind of “connection quality”. I’m talking about Connection, with a capital C”Like, – that human to human thing.  A thing that I’m not sure we’re transferring very well to a whole new generation. A thing like the simple art of neighborliness.

I know we’re not heroic at this effort because asking one of my kids to “go borrow an egg” from the neighbor has them in a full blown panic.  And in all honesty, – has me hyperventilating along-side them. The idea that we might NEED each other sometimes; it’s god-awful, isn’t it? The thought that we might need to connect with someone face to face has us postponing all kinds of baking projects that require an egg.  We’ll just wait until we head out to the store, next week, where we can also practice this behavior of disengagement by employing our laser-focus on the grocery list – or better yet, plug into a podcast that’s been missing our company as we stroll through the grocery aisles, ignoring ever human we pass.  

On College Avenue during the month of August, there are pop-up “Porch Nights” not dissimilar to a flash-mob initiated by humans and attended by humans.  It’s a 2 hour gathering over food in the front yard of any willing host; a human who will throw up a couple of tables and a pitcher of water, maybe a cooler of wine and a plate of veggies.  No need to stress over a scant table, – the human neighbors, being human and needing to eat food to survive, will come with casseroles and salads and pies in tow. And there will be a participation in an ancient tradition that we like to call “Eating Together”.

To be fair, College Ave neighbors lean into a couple of apps that help get the word out.  So, in that way, technology serves the purpose of humans connecting. The “nextdoor” app along with the “meetup” app have been helpful in pulling people in who are depending on technology to tell them all about the “what’s what”.  However, by and far, going and knocking on your neighbor’s door 30 mins before the gathering begins to give them a human-to-human invite, has produced the best results. And what’s it all for?

Connection.

Humans inviting humans into their space to talk through the weather, the job, the kids, best recipes and how the garden is doing this year.  We’re reacquainting ourselves with the simple art of neighborliness, and perhaps even beyond that, friendship.  

I recently attended a Porch Night and met a slew of interesting humans.  Humans who are married, divorced, battling cancer, dying their own hair pink, learning new card tricks, taking elderly friends to their doctors appointments, counseling people through death and trauma, attending role playing games, and baking noteworthy pies.  Yes, sure, – there are nerves. At the beginning. But a reacquainting with basic questions is a skill that will serve any human – any where. “What’s your name?” “Are you from here? Did you move here?” “What kind of work do you do?” “Do you like it?” “How did you meet your partner?”  

Porch Night People are pockets of humans interested in building the integrity of their neighborhood a little tighter.  People who believe that in order to live well, you must have a willingness to open the windows of your life to others. To share what you have.  To receive what they bring. To show gratitude and praise humans for their contributions.  

So now, when I’m in need of an egg, – I know exactly which door to knock on.  It might seem like a simple subculture movement. But, make no mistake- if we lose this, we lose the truest thing that we’re after.  Connection. And teaching our children to connect. No amount of phone-holding can replace hand-holding. And you can’t tell how old someone is in a photo.  It’s only when you’re up close – fighting thru the cloudiness in their eyes, counting wrinkles, watching them fumble with the teeth that keep coming loose in their mouth.  That’s when you know – this woman has lived under so many more suns than I have, and she has touched and loved more people than our technology driven world can create apps for me to do.  
Check out: https://www.meetup.com/Racine-Down-Town-Community-Connection-Meetup-Group/  as an example of how people are using this app to by-pass “liking someone’s post” and instead – finding them for coffee at a local restaurant and liking them in person. 

**Writing Prompt for this week:  Tell me about your neighbor //Deadline: August 22nd 9am CST. //500 words or less, creative fiction.  Submit your work to : https://www.facebook.com/groups/583235185541493/

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