I will be late due to a beer brewing disaster!
The home that I grew up in has a small front porch; just big enough for the mailbox and three boy scouts to stand under and sell popcorn. We use our back deck much more often; almost every night in the summer.
But porches make me think of Lakeside. Its a Chataqua-eske town on Lake Erie, traditionally Methodist. There are lots of retired pastors and others who retire there, and during the summer it turns into a gated community with lots of weekly tourists. My family spend the first week in August at Lakeside for 16 years of my life. Besides the lake, 15 mph speed limit, evening entertainment, shuffleboard, and a plethora of ice cream shops, Lakeside is truly a porch town. Almost all of the houses have a screened-in porch, and at any point of the day you can find people on them. The elderly are out during the day, knitting, reading, or writing letters. Around 6 o clock the younger people return from sitting on the pier (another form of porch) in adirondack chairs and families play games before dinner. After the program, the elderly and children go to bed and those of a proper age relax under the stars.
Although you might think this expensive, old-fashioned kind of vacation will soon go out of style, I don’t think so. Lakeside has been making efforts to connect with new generations through more youth activities, field trips, and stores. They keep building houses, which means people keep retiring there- which means they will bring their grandchildren to sit on the porch with them.
This is just a blog from the San Diego area and gives a positive spin on front porches. It lists a number of good activities front porches are used for but also discusses how front porch owners differ in various geographical locations.
One: here is an article about the possible influence of pesticides on Honey bees, I personally would not doubt that pesticides have inadvertently harmed honey Bee populations as a ‘non-target’ species indirectly through various kinds of pesticidal applications that are residually exposed to visiting pollinators. Relevant to the lawn people; a lot of research has been done on this subject, finding that various pesticides, especially organo-phosphates and nicatinamide, have induced vertigo, loss of memory and sense of direction, and overall neural overload on honey bees. Bees that stay in the hive mis-communicate with other bees, their danc3es are “nervous” and the behavior of the hive in total, appears confused. Foraging bees experimentally exposed to the compounds mentioned above, end up losing their sense of memory/instinct and sense of direction, all the while performing a lousy foraging job, and then get lost, explaining the enigma of disappearing bees that is so distinguished and characteristic of ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’, which is also commonly dubbed, for its elusive mess, the ‘AIDs of Honey bees’.
We have an ecologist coming to speak on Thursday about the ecology of bees. I will be interested on what she has to say about Honey bees. Honey bees were themselves, an invasive species introduced to the Americas with European influence around the 1600s. Since Apis mellifera does such a good job at pollinating and foraging, they have come to be artificially selected and such crops like alfalfa, clover, and almonds, are dependant on these bees’ productivity. California represents approximately 85% of the world’s almond production and industry, and is 100% reliant on honey bees for its pollination and continuance. however, with such priority placed on Honey Bees by agriculture, native pollinators and indigenous bees have almost been completely neglected. It was only recently that a taxonomist rediscovered a handful of native bumblebees, to find that they have already gone extinct. Thus recent attention has been diverged over to native pollinators, and researchers are finding out that some of these guys have better immunity to common diseases that plague the Honey bee while displaying competent pollinator efficiency. Some even go so far as to believe that we should let the Honey Bees go extinct, the ide being that we should let our land’s native pollinatiors evolve, while beholding the possibility that a little natural selection may end up being good for Apis mellifera. I will be very interested to scope the opinion of our guest.
Reports of the mysterious white nose syndrome, a fungal phenomenon that has reduced certain bat populations to near extinction levels, seem to have died down of late. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the disease is doing the same.
One species in particular has scientists worried. This fall, when the Virginia Big-Eared Bats return to their caves for their six-month hibernation, there’s some concern that they won’t emerge in the spring. Learn more about what the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park is doing to keep the species alive (thanks to a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and about white nose syndrome itself.
Photo by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation; Little Brown Bat showing symptoms of white nose syndrome.
This link brings you to a very straightforward website on how to make your own hammock. When yoou think about it- Does it really make sense to buy a hammock if its something that would only take you a Sunday afternoon to complete? Google ‘hammocks for sale’, and the first 3-5 links will display for you, hammocks on sale from ~ $75-$400. Supplies could undoubtfully be replaced by cheaper, salvaged alternative materials, and with a little time, a you could make your own hammock. the instructions are illustrated black and white, nothing too complex. Really, it seems like tying it together is the hardest part. So what’s this gotta do with porches? I don’t know, I guess it contributes to the porches aura- however you want to define that, and if i had a porch, i’d simply want a hammock.
For tomorrow’s porch presentation, I plan to link porches to broader concepts of urban design and community character. There is a really fascinating website called Walk Score, which rates the “walkability” of your neighborhood, based on ease of transit without a car and proximity to amenities like food, shopping, etc. You can type in your own address to see your walk score, or you can compare different cities across the U.S. to see how yours measures up against the others.
In the below image of New York City, green areas are very walkable, whereas red areas are not very pedestrian friendly.
1. San Francisco
2. New York
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Long Beach, Calif.
9. Los Angeles
This article talks about the science of creating a good front porch. Steve Mouzon did a lot of observational research on porches and found that, “there is a clear distinction between porches people will sit on and ones they won’t, and it’s based on how close the front edge of the porch is to the sidewalk, and how far above the sidewalk it is.”
His original article is here and it details more of the specifications for porch building and the observations that he made- such as how usuable porches are either farther back from the sidewalk or raised above the sidewalk because otherwise people feel vulnerable. The railing height and hedge placement also play a role in making a livable front porch.
pg3 “Lawn people worry a lot about what they do, although their behavior is not always altered by that belief.” Pretty common problem for a lot of environmental issues, people are concerned but the concern is about something so abstract that their actions do not reflect their attitudes
pg13 “And as we shall see, the demands of turf grasses are an immediate and profound influence on homeowners, which set people about the tasks that keep them busy throughout the growing season. Who’s to say which species domesticated which?”