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Terrace culture to combat loneliness, and build a more connected and inclusive society


Global Goals & Global Society
Terrace culture to combat loneliness, and build a more connected and inclusive society

As people increasingly report feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities, some Americans are looking to revive front porch culture as a way to build relationships and create a sense of neighborliness. The trend has been especially visible during the pandemic, when many people spent more time at home and sought out ways to connect with others in their communities.


One popular event that has emerged in recent years is PorchFest, a music festival where performers play on porches and yards throughout a neighborhood. The Simpsons, a family in Petworth, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C., are among those who have embraced porch culture. They chose their home in Petworth because it's walkable and close to restaurants, playgrounds, and public transit, and because it has a neighborhood feel. When they first moved in, Ms. Simpson hoped for an active front porch culture, but it didn't quite come together until people began socializing from their yards in 2020. "Porch and stoop culture restarted during the pandemic, and it's stayed around," she says.


According to the U.S. surgeon general, loneliness and isolation are reaching epidemic levels, with one in two adults reporting feeling lonely even before the pandemic. As Americans grow further apart, some are intentionally building relationships within their communities. Front porch culture, many say, is central to this effort.


"Front porch culture is just friendliness. It's community, it's interaction. It is wanting to have real community in the true sense of the word with neighbors and friends or potential friends. It's an analog lifestyle in a digital world," says Campbell McCool, founder of a Mississippi development that centers community life.

A front porch is a liminal space, says Michael Dolan, a writer and editor in Washington. "It's the outside of the inside and the inside of the outside, so people feel safe being on their porch because they are in their place and yet they are in the world," he says.


In the past, front porch culture was more prevalent in American society, but it declined in the 1950s due to the rise of air conditioning, television, and the car. As people spent more time indoors and further apart from each other, they interacted less with their neighbors. Today, over half of Americans say they only know some of their neighbors, and even when people do know their neighbors, social exchanges are rare.


However, some new developments are attempting to revive front porch culture. At Plein Air in Mississippi, for example, the only architectural requirement is that each house have a front porch. It takes curious and open people to build the kind of community that has block parties, borrows ingredients, and watches each other's kids, but social spaces like front yards and porches are important too, says Mr. McCool. "A front porch is central to the whole personality of a neighborhood," he says.


The revival of front porch culture in America is not just a trend but also a way of building relationships and creating a sense of neighborliness. This trend has become increasingly visible during the pandemic, as people spent more time at home and sought out ways to connect with others in their communities. One popular event that has emerged in recent years is PorchFest, a music festival where performers play on porches and yards throughout a neighborhood. As loneliness and isolation reach epidemic levels, with one in two adults reporting feeling lonely even before the pandemic, intentional efforts are being made to build relationships within communities. Front porch culture is seen as central to this effort, with its focus on friendliness, community, and interaction.


According to civil society experts, this trend towards front porch culture can be seen as a way to promote the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The SDGs are a set of 17 global goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to be achieved by 2030. By promoting front porch culture, communities can become more inclusive and sustainable, as people build relationships and support each other.


This type of culture is also aligned with the vision of a global society where people live in harmony and support each other. In a world where technology has brought people closer than ever before, it is important to remember the value of human connection and interaction. Front porch culture offers a way to bridge the gap between the digital and analog worlds and create a sense of community in an increasingly disconnected society.


The revival of front porch culture in America offers a way to promote inclusivity, sustainability, and the value of human connection. As communities continue to grapple with the challenges of the pandemic and other global issues, intentional efforts towards building relationships and supporting each other are crucial. Front porch culture is one example of how civil society can work towards achieving the SDGs and creating a more harmonious global society.






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