Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Porch Parties a Good Start

Posted on Monday, June 9, 2008 by No comments yet

The Detroit Free Press ran an article yesterday that caught my eye.  It opens with…

Christiane Lenz has lived in her Farmington Hills subdivision for six years and knows only a handful of her neighbors.

But that could change, as Lenz plans to host a porch party, an initiative of the Farmington and Farmington Hills Multicultural Multiracial Community Council. The parties, organizers say, are a way for residents to revive the tradition of neighborly, informal gatherings and hopefully spark new friendships.

“You don’t see people together,” said Lenz, 49, who is planning a September party. “Everyone keeps to themselves.”

There should be several parties held throughout the community in the summer, and at least six are already in the works. The gatherings are intended to be casual, with potlucks or dessert-only events among the party ideas from the council. The council also will provide talking points or icebreaker activities. Karen Bolsen, executive director of the council, said attendees should shy away from controversial topics such as race, politics and religion.

Bolsen said the porch party idea came about after community members said they felt disconnected from neighbors. The parties are a way for residents in Farmington and Farmington Hills to better understand their ethnically and racially diverse neighbors…

Sounds great!  I’d suggest to the organizers that while these porch parties will be a good start, they should use them as a starting point for something more… a monthly event, organizing a group to work on something (new playground, clean-up crew, stop unwanted development, traffic calming, etc.), or a service like Front Porch Forum.

Doing something once is good and relatively easy.  Converting that good stuff into sometime sustainable over time is much more valuable and takes real work.

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Neighborhood, social capital

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