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  • sgilpat

Front Porch Project

Front Porches.... In my bicycle travels in and around Columbus, GA I see how old front porches are still in operation and getting used for their intended purpose.. "sittin". The porches are more active in the less affluent parts of the neighborhood. Old, young, handicapped, all sitting out front talking, waiting for something... who knows? I love it. Its personality. It's soul.

This is St. Elmo. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. I never see anyone sitting on that porch.

I cruise around Columbus on my trendy and hip single speed bicycle with my camera on my chest in a carrier like a newborn. I feel out of place and I'm sure look it too. I really don't give a shit though. I've been doing this for a little over a year now and I love how you see something new, every single time, on the same streets. My house is smack-dab in the middle of the city. I can travel to the nicer North Columbus with a little effort, as long as I've got leg power for the hills. Its flat all the way down South to Ft. Benning with great views of the River along the way. I can head East toward Midland on a protected trail with lots of road crossings. The end of Columbus going North, South or East is a 30 min bike ride. One Mile to the West is Phenix City, AL. I haven't really explored much there yet. Anyway, there's lots of options and by far my favorite locations are all within 15 min of my house and I found some great images on and around front porches.

Likely no active plumbing.

There's a huge disparity in wealth in Columbus. Its obvious right here in the lovely Lakebottom neighborhood and the downtown historic district. One street has lovely mansions (like St. Elmo pictured above) and tidy little refurbished historic homes with tidy lawns... Prius' and Subarus parked out front. The next street over is likely lined with weathered shotgun shacks, dirt lawns protected by Pitt bulls tethered to the porch with an old chain or clothes line. It's a striking dichotomy, these two worlds and the people that live in them. Closer to downtown there's real gentrification. Not long ago the downtown area was surrounded on all sides by poorly maintained public and low income housing projects. Now they're being removed, moved or torn down and rebuilt. Several of the old mills have been turned into high end loft apartments.

The ubiquitous shotgun shack.

This porch is ready. Lots of surrounding plants, chairs and a cooler. Just add old men in hats.

There are lots of old concrete and cinderblock homes in and around the city. Many still have the old dental moulding around the roof and wide concrete slab front porches.

Deep thought on the steps of a midtown shotgun shack.

Albeit rundown with no grass, his house is tidy and organized and he is crashed the hell out.

This town is cloaked in melancholy. It has character, culture and history. There are big companies, a large nearby Army base and a State University that's spread all over the city. There still seems to be a sadness we can't shake. On any given day we are the second or third largest city in Georgia yet ranked 139th in per capita income according to the 2015 census. These houses are a great representation of that data. They never get better or improve. They stay the same and residents change like the weather.

Everyone gives a wave back. Even for the dork on the bike.

Old brick history is everywhere in the neighborhood. Streets are lined with rows of houses with stores and old boarded up businesses mixed in.

Lots of stuff everywhere and a fire in the pit. A recliner on the porch likely means they sit a lot.

I really do enjoy the people of Columbus. Most are city proud and house proud, some more than others. I've never felt unsafe riding through the midtown neighborhoods. Everyone returns a friendly wave and if you stop and talk they have a story. I know my earlier assertion that the city is depressed with no real reason other than its poor seems dreary. The people I've encountered are the bright spot and why I keep cruising the streets. They are the optimism.

I rolled up to his house while he was grilling, asked if I could take his picture and he started dancing. It does not get better than that.

This is Pat. His front yard is full of random shit for sale. He calls it Pat's Pickins.

This lady was just sitting in front of her store in the middle of the neighborhood. Not staring at a phone- Just sittin...

There are lots of animals roaming around. There are probably more cats than there are insects. If there was one animal most associated this area it would have to be the Pitt Bull. I am not a fan. In my regular job I care for many children who have suffered at the jaws of the beloved family Pitt.

Give a cat a porch and he will sit.

A beloved family murder machine on his throne.

People tend to walk around here. Prior to moving down here I had a lovely suburban McMansion in North Columbus with streets that no-one ever walked on. Everyone had to drive everywhere.

Lone kid heading to his grandmothers after school.

Ladies emptying their dogs.

Kids always seem to want their picture taken.

I don't foresee an end to this project. Riding my bike around the city in search of optimism is therapy for my chaotic life. When you do find it and are able to capture it...its intoxicating. Thanks Columbus.

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