Front Porch Republic
So this is a neat new site for any of you who may read Daniel Larison, Rod Dreher, Patrick J. Deneen and the many other conservative writers who make up Front Porch Republic. I’m personally very excited because it looks like this site will focus on the very issues I’m most concerned about – culture, community, the environment, and localism.
From the About page:
The economic crisis that emerged in late 2008 and the predictable responses it elicited from those in power has served to highlight the extent to which concepts such as human scale, the distribution of power, and our responsibility to the future have been eliminated from the public conversation. It also threatens to worsen the political and economic centralization and atomization that have accompanied the century-long unholy marriage between consumer capitalism and the modern bureaucratic state. We live in a world characterized by a flattened culture and increasingly meaningless freedoms. Little regard is paid to the necessity for those overlapping local and regional groups, communities, and associations that provide a matrix for human flourishing. We’re in a bad way, and the spokesmen and spokeswomen of both our Left and our Right are, for the most part, seriously misguided in their attempts to provide diagnoses, let alone solutions.
Though there is plenty we disagree about, and each contributor can be expected to stand by the words of only his or her own posts, the folks gathered here more or less agree with the above assertions. We come from different backgrounds, live in different places, and have divergent interests, but we’re convinced that scale, place, self-government, sustainability, limits, and variety are key terms with which any fruitful debate about our corporate future must contend. We invite you to read along, and perhaps join the discussion.
On a further note, the “lead” article by Deneen, “A Republic of Front Porches” touches on a subject that’s been near and dear to my heart for some time now, and helps explain the title of the site; that is, the front porch itself:
In this simple but profound essay, Thomas explores the social implications of the architectural practice of building porches on the front of homes and its eventual abandonment in favor of patios behind the house (I’ve discussed this transition in relation to the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” in comparing Bedford Falls to Bailey Park). As with any central feature in our built environment, this is more than merely a passing fashion trend or a meaningless design change: the transition from porch to patio was one of the clearest and significant manifestations the physical change from a society concerned with the relationship of private and public things – in the Latin, res publica – to one of increasing privacy. The porch, as a physical bridge between the private realm of the house and the public domain of the street and sidewalk, was the literal intermediate space between two worlds that have been increasingly separated in our time, and hence increasingly ungoverned in both forms.
Now this is exactly why I’m so enamored of the “new urbanist” movement, and why I find that commentary on our infrastructure and architecture can be as valid a form of social commentary and cultural criticism as anything ever said about the sanctity of marriage, or the horror of violence in our film and video games. When we build a society that forces people into the role of individual first, and then isolates them through cities built for individuals rather than communities; when commutes replace a short walk, and massive big-box stores replace local markets, well, people really do begin to become less a part of the whole, and more cocooned in their own existence. This disconnect, I believe, is a dangerous thing. It leads to materlialism, depression, and isolation.
But in any case, the site looks like it’s going to be a really exciting new voice in the conservative fringes. Expect to see a lot of good writing found nowhere in the conservative movement itself….