Column: Front yards build connections


Commentary by Jeff Worrell

Through the years, as the programmed pace of family life in America gets faster and faster, having a leisurely neighbor-to-neighbor conversation at the mailbox is becoming less common. It is one of the reasons Carmel has directed considerable resources towards public, informal outdoor gathering spaces like Midtown, to make sure the connection between friends, family and fellow citizens remains. But nothing can or should replace the front yard and the front porch in Carmel.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo studied neighborhoods to determine if vibrancy of front yards leads to neighborhood vitality. They found a sense of “place” yields positive feelings when people feel more connected to the place they live. Vibrant flower beds, an inviting front porch swing or even colorful trinkets capture the attention of passersby and can spark sociable conversation.

I sense we all value the importance of our backyards for our family time, but let’s not forget the role of our front yard in shaping the vibrant tapestry of our neighborhoods. A splash of color or better yet, a friendly shout “hello” from the porch to the person on the sidewalk will go a long way to building a strong sense of community. And little did I know my neighbor who spends countless hours making her front yard beautiful was actually nurturing civility in Carmel.