"Porches are very valuable to building community. If you're out on your front porch sitting, you're seeing neighbors pass by. They say 'Hello' to you and you say 'Hi' to them, and over time you get to know them, rather than staying in your car, pushing a button, and going into the garage and never seeing each other."
--John Buchino, a professor of pediatrics and pathology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. Buchino "prescribes ["porching"] in liberal doses," the Sentinel article says.
So true. If you're in a neighborhood where homes are up near the sidewalk, and the major feature fronting the streetscape is a porch and not a garage door, it's a whole different feel from an area where homes are set way back from the street, or screened off, or showing big garage doors as the primary streetscape feature.
I've sat on the porch at my parents' house several times last year, reading the paper but still able to look up on watch who was passing by. On Halloween, I sat there and gave out candy, able to chat with parents hovering on the sidewalk as well as to the kids. Last summer, I was sitting out and parents of a childhood friend drove by, saw me and pulled over to stop and say hello. Darn right porches help build a sense of community.