What is our Core Purpose?

Portfolio_3-10-09 (1)

This is the frontispiece from an early portfolio of The Front Porch back in 2008.

Our Board gathered recently to ponder the core purpose of The Front Porch.

For whatever reasons, The Front Porch resists “the Elevator Statement.” It’s just not that easy to pin it down.

We know that for The Front Porch to become all it’s envisioned to be, its purpose has to be focused and defined for everybody to understand.

Then again, it’s like sitting on any porch with good friends or interesting strangers–we muse and argue about ideas, relax, tell stories, eat, drink, and play music–we enjoy each other and have a good time, but it’s not easy to reduce the experience to a one-liner.

Anyway, here’s some of the thoughts and ideas that emerged between us at our gathering.

First, the Board responded to the simple question, “Why the Front Porch? Why does it exist?” Here’s some bullet responses…

The Front Porch exists to ….

  • Offer a space
  • To build community
    • Provide opportunities to build meaningful relationships
    • Bring together people who might not come together otherwise
  • Invite people into (spirited) dialogue
    • that can bridge and heal divisions
    • that encourages the freedom to disagree
    • that goes deeper
  • Move people to new thinking or action
    • Through reflection on experience
    • Through discovering new ideas and relationships
    • Through having fun in the process

The Board then brainstormed about where the Front Porch is today, noting specific facts, listed below, that described its current status:

Currently, the Front Porch

  • Is a 501C3 non-profit
  • Is a mission of All Saints’ Episcopal Church
  • Has an Advisory Board
  • Has a new Board of Directors
  • Has an Executive Director with contacts, ideas, and a vision for the Front Porch
  • Has no paid staff
  • Has a posted portfolio of events
    • Events are happening
    • One focus is on the Arts
  • Has begun to build a recognizable brand, but still has a ways to go
  • Has a website with information posted and has the infrastructure for social media outreach
  • Does not have a “place of its own”
    • Has met in various locations around town, including Victory Grill, Texas French Bread, Ventana del Sol, Spiderhouse, etc.
    • Currently meeting at All Saints’ Episcopal church
    • Has begun exploring possible spaces and venues.
  • Has $4,000 in the bank

 The Board then did a brief imaginative reflection on what the Front Porch would be like in 5 to 7 years, working first on individual descriptions and then sharing their ideas, as shown below:

Vision for the Future

  • Attracts diverse groups from varied socio-economic, religious, cultural backgrounds
  • Large membership
  • Large crowd with energy and lively conversation
    • Groups of animated, serious talkers
  • Has a home – a designated space
    • Great use of space and location
    • Good food, coffee, beer, bar
    • Space is so beautiful that it attracts people for that reason alone
    • A space where other non-profits want to meet
  • Ideas being dealt with have consequences in the social, political, cultural landscape
    • Gatherings have artful presentation and thoughtful focus
    • Challenging, joyous, topical, non-religious, meaningful, unifying
  • (Activities / Programs)
    • Events 7 days a week
    • Gatherings are varied and unpredictable
    • Local in flavor
    • Finds and presents real “gems”
    • There is a Sunday service with vitality, diversity, and depth
    • Strong sense of community
      • Real unity with astonishing diversity
      • There is a “buzz” about the Front Porch
        • High brand recognition
  • (Infrastructure)
    • Paid Executive Director and staff (operations and event managers)
    • Self-sustaining events and space
    • There is money in the bank

The group then brainstormed the key factors that would enable the Front Porch to fulfill its vision, and came up with these important factors.  At the next meeting, plans will be generated to address the highest priority of these.

  • The Front Porch is well understood and well-known
    • Excellent publicity through all types of media, including social media, marques
  • Perceived as serving and enriching the community—a community good
    • Community partners
  • Has a space
    • Parking free and plentiful
    • Good location
    • Attractive and flexible
  • Excellent programs
  • Success in building a sense of community
    • Open to religious and non-religious
  • (Has needed infrastructure)
    • Strong membership base
    • Sufficient, self-sustaining financial resources to be free from donor contributions
    • Investors who contribute to building space (capital campaign)
  • Strong leadership
    • Engaged Board of Directors

So there you have it! We are very much an adventure in progress, and we are very open to getting your help and input—join us and let’s do this together.

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