Social distancing guidelines have made it hard to really connect with anyone outside of your home.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t.
“Front Porch Fridays” is a Houston-wide initiative created by the co-owners of Mutiny Wine Room, 1124 Usener St., to help foster a sense of community by getting people outside every Friday at 6 p.m. Mark Ellenberger and Emily Trout are encouraging people to connect with neighbors while staying on their own porches, thereby complying with social distancing guidelines.
“After Houston put the social distancing protocols in place, I was driving through the Heights on a beautiful day and noticed that no one was outside on their porches,” Trout said.
Having lived in the Heights since 1997, Trout has always had a porch to enjoy. It occurred to her that from people’s front porches, they could chat with one another from afar.
This weekly socializing from a distance is designed to turn everyone’s mind to something more positive.
“Everyone is so focused on the bad news right now that it’s important to take a step away from the TV and screens and find something to enjoy and make you smile,” Trout said.
For Trout, there is no substitute for connecting with other people.
“We’re all in this together, and it’s not great, but sitting inside and brooding about the state of the world only feeds our anxiety,” Trout said. “So, let’s do something about this and find a reason to focus on the positive.”
To boost the concept and get people involved, Mutiny created a “Front Porch Package” that people could enjoy while hanging out on their porch. Each week the package will look different, but will include a special selection of meats and cheeses with suggested wine pairings. The wine pairings are separate from the package, but will be offered at a discounted rate.
Whether or not you pick up a package from Mutiny, the winery is encouraging everyone to participate.
As part of the initiative, Trout and Ellenberger are asking people to use the hashtag #FrontPorchFridays on their Instagram posts and tag or mention @MutinyWineRoom. From the pool of people using the hashtag, one winner will be chosen to receive a free bottle of wine from Mutiny.
“Mark and I also purchased gift cards from local Heights restaurants and will award the cards to the houses on the block with the most houses participating in Front Porch Fridays,” Trout said.
In order to determine the contest winners, Trout asks that participants email their address to email@example.com or message Mutiny on its social media platforms during the 6 o’clock hour on Friday.
“We tool around the neighborhood in a golf cart that our friend lends us and greet people and wave,” Trout said.
At the very least, Front Porch Fridays also serves as a reminder of what day of the week it is for those who just can’t keep track.