City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Photo by James Griswell

Featured Article

A Day of Radical Generosity

Decatur's Expression of its Love for Community & Music

Article by Margarita I. Giraldo

Photography by Hector Amador and James Griswell

Originally published in Decatur City Lifestyle

There is no doubt that Porchfest is quintessential Decatur. Since 2015, people have come together to host, perform, and organize one of the most crowd-sourced festivals in the Metro Atlanta area. There are over 1,000 souls volunteering to make this event come to life. Planning and mobilizing create excitement. Bands performing their favorite sets, people wandering the streets with friends, and meeting new ones are just a few of the fascinating things that participants experience at this music lovers’ neighborhood festival. 

All the individuals who give their time both performing and prepping their homes, porches, and streets are doing so to create a day of radical generosity and goodwill. These folks work for weeks to have one day that fosters an environment where seeds of new friendships are planted or renewed! It's a day when connections bloom and residents are reminded why they live in Decatur. All of this alchemy happens against a backdrop of great music and generates so much positive energy to a community that supports one another.

DCL spoke to a few festival participants to learn about what keeps them coming back year after year. 

Why do you love Porchest?

Without hosts, block captains, performers, and many others, the event would not take place. Someone needs to take the initiative and step up to get the blocks up and running. Once the first email goes out about block captains and volunteers, everyone comes together and makes it all happen and creates an enjoyable experience; the festival really unites the city. 

This collective enthusiasm creates a forward momentum and inspires people to make the most of this day driven by the love of community and music. People are genuinely happy to walk around and support the different bands. Some have played on the same porch since the festival’s inception and other acts are new. Even for amateur performers, it's a moment to play in front of a relaxed and supportive crowd. Fans are eager to enjoy a good set of tunes in an intimate setting. 

What keeps you coming back?  

It’s a blast to see friends old and new and catch a bunch of live music of differing genres (and quality!) in one place. The shared love of community heightens the tenor of relationships. Friendships deepen and the festival allows for folks to see each other in an informal and fun atmosphere. As the festival grows in performing acts, so do its participants. Seeing certain bands draw big crowds and everyone singing and dancing on someone’s front lawn is a wondrous moment. It also seems like there are so many after-parties around the neighborhood so the fun keeps going into the night.

What favorite memory comes to mind?

Although music and community draw crowds, there is also giving and funds raised for good causes, such as animal rescue and other nonprofits. Each year people get better at organizing their efforts and making more money for their charity of choice. Porchfest gives anyone interested in raising money a backdrop for creating generosity. One well-known resident took his talent for smoked wings and has been slinging wings for pet rescue since the second Porchfest. 

Another neighbor (and host) recalls his very first Porchfest where he and his spouse had absolutely no idea what was gonna happen. Would people show up? Would this just be a bust? He truly wondered if their performer would be playing to an audience of two. When it was performance time, they came out through the front door, and their entire front yard was filled with people - crowds of people on the sidewalk and packed on the street. He shared, “We were just blown away! We met so many new neighbors that day. It was really incredible.”

A special thanks to the following folks who shared their love of Porchfest with us and contributed to this piece: Dan Galenkamp, Craig Combs, Ali & Amy Herriot, Ethan Davidson, Jeremy Rhett, Rick Weissinger, Audrey Lyons, Jeff Lell and Scott Doyon.

  • Photo by James Griswell
  • Photo by James Griswell
  • Photo by Hector Amador
  • Photo by Hector Amador