A free neighborhood porch-to-porch tour where you can hear stories told by actors about inspiring people from your community.
Porch Stories™ is a neighborhood storytelling tour that I began in 2007. At selected porches the walking tour stops to hear an actor from the local theatre tell an engaging story about an inspiring neighbor: past or present. My writing group researches and writes the stories.
How Did You Get This Idea?
I started Porch Stories because I wanted to find a way for people in my community to connect with one another by combining a neighborhood stroll with a storytelling tour. I grew up in a time when people actually did sit on their porches sipping lemonade and sharing stories. I've watched my world change from one with mainly outside social interaction to one with an inside virtual social life. I think that each has its merits. The internet is a great way to connect with people - like what I'm doing right now! However, we can't let our virtual lives replace our need for real social interaction.
The idea for Porch Stories came to me from ruminating on the fact that no one sits on their front porch anymore visiting with their neighbors. Backyard decks just don’t cut it. People feel disconnected. In this age of social disparity and cultural conflict, it has become more important than ever to think of ways to connect with our neighbors and strengthen our communities. Porch Stories can do that!
When and Where is This Happening?
Summer, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Why Not Sooner? Why D.C.? What About My Town?
It takes about nine months to plan and produce this type of event only because of the back and forth that happens as you are trying to book venues, porches, meetings with historians and community groups, etc. That doesn't mean, however, that it takes an entire nine months to produce one Porch Stories project. Several tours can be developed simultaneously. The more the merrier! It just means that we'll need to recruit more writers, researchers and actors. The 2012 Porch Stories will be in D.C. on Capitol Hill because that's my neighborhood. If you'd like Porch Stories to come to your town, just let me know!
How It Works
We've learned a few things about what works and what doesn't work in the past four years of producing Porch Stories. Best time of day for it is late afternoon to early evening. The tour begins at a central location in a neighborhood, such as, a park or village green. We set up a scene that looks like a porch with wicker chairs, tables and plants. Here's a photo from 2009 of a couple of tour-goers arriving at our starting point on the village green:
They'll pick up a program guide they can read while waiting for the next tour to leave. We have lemonade, water and cookies to keep everybody happy while they wait. We try to keep tours going every half hour. The event works best when it starts around 4:00 p.m. with the last tour leaving at 8:00 p.m. The program has a handy map, small preview of each story, and acknowledgements of appreciation to the porch owners, actors, writers, historians and community groups who helped make the event possible. You can check out a program from a previous year on our blog: http://porchstory.wordpress.com, just click on the tab at the top, "Program Guide."
Porch Stories is a nice summertime stroll with a group of about 20-30 people and a tour guide taking you through a neighborhood where you get to gawk at the pretty gardens along the way. You stop at four porches. Chairs are set up under a tent on the lawn in case it rains.
The porch becomes the stage that the actors use to tell the stories which generally last about 5-8 minutes. The entire tour takes about 45 minutes. When tour-goers are finished, they can convene back at the starting point to talk about the stories. We like to arrange for discounts with local restaurants for those who want to stick around town for dinner. We're including an after-tour wine and hors d'oeuvres party in our plans to celebrate our 2012 summer tour in D.C..
Why We Need Funding
The costs involved with a project like this center around event production, marketing, advertising and compensation for the actors and writers. For the first four years, we had a small ticket price of $12 which barely covered the basic costs, even though we were able to draw between 150-200 to the event. Porch Stories has been a labor of love and I have been happy to organize and produce it with a great deal of help from volunteers and in-kind donations.
At this point, I'd like to have this become a free community event. I want to encourage the spirit of the idea which is to bring people together to discover our common voice and strengthen our social ties.
Breakdown of approximate minimal expenses:
$4,000: Advertising (pole banners, posters, radio ads, etc.)
$2,500: Marketing (brand-building, social networking, blog linking, promotional items)
$2,000: Event Production (insurance, chairs, tents, tour guides, crossing guards, etc.)
$2,700: Eight Actors (four story adaptations, costumes, etc.)
$5,500: Writers (research, meetings, story writing and development - it takes between 40-60 hours to take one story from inception to final edits)
The above includes compensating all involved for their time. I am hoping to find volunteers to do as much as possible, which is how we have operated all along. However, the actors and writers cannot continue to work for free. I am big on supporting artists and not assuming that what they do is created out of thin air in a matter of minutes. I highly value their creative process and product. Where would the world be without art?
Of the $16,700 in projected expenses, I am cutting this in half to come up with a reasonable Kickstarter funding request of $8,350 which will cover compensation for the actors and writers with a little left over. I will try to cover event production, marketing and advertising through volunteer efforts, in-kind donations and corporate sponsorships.
I am excited to bring Porch Stories to our nation's capitol. It's a great city and a wonderful place to take this project to the next level.
Thank you for reading all this!
I think you'll like the rewards that we're offering. If we reach our funding goal, we will send them out as promptly as possible! If you've got any questions, send me an e-mail: email@example.com
I've got a small circle of writers on Capitol Hill that are interested in the project. One of the writers from my old group in Ohio is going to work remotely. I'm going to need help with marketing, advertising and event logistics. I'm lucky to have a built-in crew of five grown kids who are tech savvy and creatively charged. So I've got things pretty much covered, however, if you know of anyone who would like to help in any way, please let me know!
Please go to the blog: http://porchstory.wordpress.com and click on the tab. You'll see the list of honorary members (everyone who generously volunteered to help produce Porch Stories over the past four years).
YES! We started ghost stories two years ago to rave reviews, no less. We research and dig up (excuse the pun) stories from the grave. It works like Porch Stories, except it takes place after dark. The final stop is an old community grave yard where we leave you without a tour guide after the last story. Hopefully you'll find your way back in the dark.
Were planning to throw a big party here on Capitol Hill after the Summer 2012 Tour. If all goes well with funding, etc., we will rent a decent venue and have plenty of wine and hors d'oeuvres. It will be a fun opportunity to mingle with the actors, writers and historians and ask them all the dumb questions you've ever had, like how do you memorize all those lines?
I'm a writer, so you will hear from me more often than not and as you can judge from the wordiness of this Kickstarter page, probably with more information than you needed!
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Send us a picture (jpeg) of your porch or stoop and we will print it on a postcard and mail it from our house to your house with all our love.
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We will send you a postcard of our porch with a mini-porch story on the back written just for you!
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Porch Stories poster, full-color, 13 x 19, and a small matching magnet to stick the poster on your fridge
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One dozen homemade porch-ready sugar cookies with my grandmother's original lemonade recipe enclosed. For international pledges, please add ten dollars more for shipping, thank you!
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All of the above, plus the DVD of the 2012 D.C. Tour
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All of the above, plus one year's membership in "Society of Porch Story Patrons" - benefits include recognition in every Porch Stories program and a Book of Stories from a previous tour. Please see the Porch Stories blog for more details: http://porchstory.wordpress.com
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"This Actor Made Possible By" - your name pinned on actor's back during event and after-tour party.
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"This Story Made Possible By" - your name printed under story title in program and book.
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"This Porch Made Possible By" - your name posted on one of the tour's porches.
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Porch Stories will produce a tour for your neighborhood - anywhere in the continental U.S. - anytime during the summer or fall of 2012. If you'd like to have ghost stories for Halloween just let us know!
- (46 days)