Now more than ever, people are craving connection with others as we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. But finding safe ways to spend time with friends and family can seem few and far between. This spring and summer, we want to help the community of Greenfield revive the lost art of porch sitting. Enjoying the warm weather, talking to others in your neighborhood from a safe distance, disconnecting from the constant “ping” of smart devices… what could be better?

“Sitting on the summer-night porch was so good, so easy and so reassuring that it could never be done away with. These were rituals that were right and lasting… Oh, the luxury of lying in the fern night and the grass night and the night of susurrant, slumbrous voices weaving the dark together.” – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Start by Sprucing up your Porch

You’ll be much more likely to spend time outside this summer if you like the look of your front porch. Try adding some comfy chairs, plush pillows and cute decorations in your favorite style. We love these tips from Country Living Magazine for improving your outdoor spaces. No porch? No problem! You can use these same principles to dress up a patio, stoop, driveway or whatever area you have at the front of your house, condo or apartment. 

Connect with Your Neighbors

If you haven’t spoken to your neighbors in a while, you can start by simply spending more time outside and waving when you see them out and about. If your neighbors see you enjoying time outdoors, they may be more willing to stop by to say hello. You could also try a friendly take on “ding dong ditching” by dropping off a small gift basket or treat with a note telling them who it is from. You may be pleasantly surprised to make a new friend right next door!

Make Porch Sitting a Daily Routine

If you want to get outdoors and into your community more often, start making it a part of your daily routine. Although many of us have heard of the 21-day habit rule, studies actually say that it can often take an average of 66 days to form a habit. Try to make it outside for a porch sit every day if you can, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You can make yourself more likely to spend time on the porch by bringing out activities that you would normally do inside, such as reading, meditating or playing a family game.

Disconnect from Your Screens

One of the theories about why the American pastime of porch sitting has gone away is due to screens. When families started spending more time together in front of the television, they started spending less time outdoors connecting with others. That disconnection with friends and community has only grown bigger with cell phones and smart devices. 

While technology has many obvious benefits, we’ve also heard of the numerous negative impacts of screen time, including depression/anxiety, sleep problems, chronic neck/back pain and risk of obesity. So why not make your daily porch sitting time a screen-free activity? Your family may show some resistance at first, but they’re sure to see the light as they rediscover the joy of “face-to-face time,” instead of an iPhone Facetime session.