WELCOME TO THE PORCH SOCIETY

WE ARE DEDICATED TO

PRESERVING RURAL CULTURAL HERITAGE

What we do?

AUDREY'S
PORCH

A new program by the
PORCH Society

“We work on high impact, strategic, policy and development issues while simultaneously delivering grassroots project initiatives with boots on the ground”

With the urbanization of America continuing to increase over the past twenty years, and farming growing ever more mechanized causing a steady decline in the amount of human labor needed, many rural communities across America have fallen into deep distress.

This distress has manifested itself through a general decline in rural populations, a drop in the quality of education, an exodus of manufacturing companies and agricultural jobs, and higher per capita drug use than in urban centers. Fewer policy makers and thought leaders are coming from rural backgrounds, so people from urban areas are making decisions regarding rural interests. Yet rural communities are rich in assets. They will grow the bulk of America’s food for the foreseeable future. Space is plentiful and the cost of living is low. Natural beauty is abundant.

PORCH will focus on four strong pillars in its’ initial years. The first will be educational reform in rural communities. The second will be exchange and exposure to and with rural communities in the areas of literary, visual, audio, culinary and botanical arts. The third will be infrastructure with a special emphasis on bringing internet to rural homesteads and communities everywhere. Finally, PORCH will focus on natural resources and making sure that urban users of these resources protect, and invigorate the rural communities that provide them. These include agriculture, energy, water and all natural materials that come from the earth.

We stimulate dialogue and creativity through artistic and cultural projects

The PORCH Society stimulates the senses by covering visual, audio, literary, culinary and horticultural practices by hosting, enabling and engaging a wide variety of artists at both national and international levels to spend time in our communities and soak up our fabulous unique culture. At the same time, these artists give something back in areas where we need help, particularly in education and community development. The PORCH Society believes in the huge benefit gained by experiencing a new culture and living life at a slightly slower pace. These types of experiences are the ones that help an artist to see a little differently and grow. Simultaneously, our communities can experience the types of inspiration and growth that talented worldly guests can bring. Where arts and artists lead, community, creativity and cultural activities will follow.

We catalyze the transformation of education in rural communities

The PORCH Society catalyzes transformational change in rural educational settings. Even with the advent of the internet, we have noted a decline in test scores and educational standards of many schools in rural communities. As farming becomes increasingly mechanized, jobs have become scarce and rural communities are becoming marginalized and displaced, taking their schools down with them. The vision of PORCH is that carefully selected coordinators will work with communities to help turn their schools around. Outside funding will be sought and the programs will work closely with each state’s department of education and the local schools looking for transformational change to create a type of partnership environment. PORCH will be using current models of success, known leadership initiatives, and even some of the tenets of the German apprenticeship system to educate students to a high academic level, while giving them a portfolio of practical skills. It is also the vision of PORCH that these schools promote the excellence of all students regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or religion. In order to attract business into rural areas, it is imperative that companies see an educational springboard for their employee’s families as diverse as the employees themselves. 

We promote radical innovation for a more balanced and sustainable future

PORCH will focus on the pillar of natural resources and making sure that urban users of these resources protect, and invigorate the rural communities working to provide them. These include agriculture, energy, water and all natural materials that come from the ground. Urban growth has in effect, sucked on natural, rural resources to the tipping point. We are rapidly approaching the day when rural communities can not deliver goods to cities on a timely basis. It is challenging to the point of ‘impossible’ to comply with what is written by the cities in governing rural resources on how to grow and mine etc. in order to give growing, urban populations the produce and raw materials needed for ever expanding consumption. There are signs of this natural and human drain impacting our countryside negatively every day.

We facilitate breakthrough opportunities for connectivity and shared growth

Urban and industrial consumption has required economies of scale that have sucked a great deal of brain capital out of rural America. Technology has now provided us with a way to grow large and important crops with fewer people and higher yields. However unless the communities around that land are strong and sustained there will be no one to maintain or intelligently implement the technology. Historically, well into the 20th Century, rural America has been one of the principle drivers of the U.S.’s success. All thing rural were serious contributors to the US in terms of thought leadership, creativity and economic prosperity. Today that impact is marginalized. Many rural communities are mired in drugs, boredom and hopelessness. Making things worse, there has been very little investment in access to the internet. This is a phenomenal handbrake to creating educational, creative and economic opportunities. PORCH will work to see this changed.

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Arts & Culture

We stimulate dialogue and creativity through artistic and cultural projects

The PORCH Society stimulates the senses by covering visual, audio, literary, culinary and horticultural practices by hosting, enabling and engaging a wide variety of artists at both national and international levels to spend time in our communities and soak up our fabulous unique culture. At the same time, these artists give something back in areas where we need help, particularly in education and community development. The PORCH Society believes in the huge benefit gained by experiencing a new culture and living life at a slightly slower pace. These types of experiences are the ones that help an artist to see a little differently and grow. Simultaneously, our communities can experience the types of inspiration and growth that talented worldly guests can bring. Where arts and artists lead, community, creativity and cultural activities will follow.

+
Education

We catalyze the transformation of education in rural communities

The PORCH Society catalyzes transformational change in rural educational settings. Even with the advent of the internet, we have noted a decline in test scores and educational standards of many schools in rural communities. As farming becomes increasingly mechanized, jobs have become scarce and rural communities are becoming marginalized and displaced, taking their schools down with them. The vision of PORCH is that carefully selected coordinators will work with communities to help turn their schools around. Outside funding will be sought and the programs will work closely with each state’s department of education and the local schools looking for transformational change to create a type of partnership environment. PORCH will be using current models of success, known leadership initiatives, and even some of the tenets of the German apprenticeship system to educate students to a high academic level, while giving them a portfolio of practical skills. It is also the vision of PORCH that these schools promote the excellence of all students regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity or religion. In order to attract business into rural areas, it is imperative that companies see an educational springboard for their employee’s families as diverse as the employees themselves. 

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Natural Resources

We promote radical innovation for a more balanced and sustainable future

PORCH will focus on the pillar of natural resources and making sure that urban users of these resources protect, and invigorate the rural communities working to provide them. These include agriculture, energy, water and all natural materials that come from the ground. Urban growth has in effect, sucked on natural, rural resources to the tipping point. We are rapidly approaching the day when rural communities can not deliver goods to cities on a timely basis. It is challenging to the point of ‘impossible’ to comply with what is written by the cities in governing rural resources on how to grow and mine etc. in order to give growing, urban populations the produce and raw materials needed for ever expanding consumption. There are signs of this natural and human drain impacting our countryside negatively every day.

+
Technology & Economic Development

We facilitate breakthrough opportunities for connectivity and shared growth

Urban and industrial consumption has required economies of scale that have sucked a great deal of brain capital out of rural America. Technology has now provided us with a way to grow large and important crops with fewer people and higher yields. However unless the communities around that land are strong and sustained there will be no one to maintain or intelligently implement the technology. Historically, well into the 20th Century, rural America has been one of the principle drivers of the U.S.’s success. All thing rural were serious contributors to the US in terms of thought leadership, creativity and economic prosperity. Today that impact is marginalized. Many rural communities are mired in drugs, boredom and hopelessness. Making things worse, there has been very little investment in access to the internet. This is a phenomenal handbrake to creating educational, creative and economic opportunities. PORCH will work to see this changed.

PROJECTS

  • All
  • Arts & Culture
  • Education
  • Technology
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PRESERVING RURAL CULTURAL HERITAGE

WHO WE ARE

  • Shonda Warner

    Founder

    Growing up in rural America embedded Shonda with strong values and a lifelong relationship and respect for nature. Her career path then took her to every corner of the planet, living from Tokyo to London. Everywhere she went her love of people and creative flair opened longterm relationships with artists and entrepreneurs around the world. She was simultaneous a banker and patron of the arts. More recently her inner voice has called her back to the place she loves most – rural America. PORCH is the culmination of her many experiences and talents harnessed for the good of the place she calls ‘home’.

  • Chris Chopyak

    Board Member

    Chris grew up in Colorado and has explored the world of food, the natural world, business, creativity and education through her interaction with students, teachers, farmers/ranchers, corporate and government leaders. Her eclectic work experiences- from pastry chef and executive director of a field science school, to business consultant/strategist, author, and master facilitator, she has found a way to include art and illustration in the work she does with others and for her clients. Her passion for left brain and right brain thinking influences her co-creative approach to everything she gets engaged in, including her role in the board of PORCH.

  • Rose Shoshana

    Board Member

    Rose Shoshana’s passionate dedication to the arts and the rural American vernacular are evident in her gallery’s representation of William Eggleston, Dorthea Lange, Horace Bristol, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Garciela Iturbide. Rose has a special understanding and nuanced handling of a wide variety of cultures which lends itself well to her work with PORCH helping artists expand their often urban horizons into a new rural landscape. Rose’s delight in new experiences is palpable and motivating in convincing many shy country folks not used to looking at and thinking about art, to jump in and let their feelings run wild.

  • John McDonald

    Board Member

    Boulevard Brewing Company’s founder, John McDonald, embodies the character and culture of the organization he built. From humble beginnings, a small Midwestern craft brewery became the region’s largest. John still walks through the brewery each morning, greeting employees and discussing issues of the day. The loyalty and dedication he inspires is an important reason why Boulevard has been successful.

Become a Friend of PORCH or Contribute

You can donate to The PORCH Society directly through PayPal below or perhaps you can donate goods?

At the moment, we are looking for: Greenhouses, Demonstration Kitchen Equipment and Woodworking Tools.

Become a Friend of PORCH: $25 per year
You will receive our eternal gratitude as someone who cares about preserving and strengthening rural communities, and will receive our newsletters. You’ll also be entitled to a 5% discount at Miss Dels General Store or on a stay at Seven Chimneys Farm!

Give Where it’s Needed the Most:
We are grateful for any amount of money you can spare. Your donation of unrestricted funds can be used for programs where we have extra special need or situations that may have been overlooked because of their size or that don’t fit neatly into a box. Get involved!

DONATE NOW     $30 buys seeds for the garden

DONATE NOW     $50 buys an appliance for our demonstration kitchen for our food science program

DONATE NOW     $75 provides the popcorn necessary to feed all of children a special snack at our weekly “Movie Night”

DONATE NOW     $100 provides the fee for one of our students to have a special immersion project such as a day canoeing on the Mississippi River, or a day at the Museums of Memphis

DONATE NOW     $200 buys an honorarium for a day for a special guest speaker or artist to come into the school and help us transform a child’s life

DONATE NOW     $500 buys a stove for our food science program

DONATE NOW     $1000 buys a share in our commercial greenhouse for our gardening and landscaping class. $25,000 provides an entire greenhouse

DONATE NOW     $50,000 buys the food truck we need to start our entrepreneur project for our food science program

DONATE NOW     $30 buys a round trip for a child in a rural community to see a museum in a nearby city

DONATE NOW     $50 buys a digital camera for an art student

DONATE NOW     $250 pays for a visiting artist to spend a day in class teaching kids

DONATE NOW     $1000 supports a traveling pop up art show through a 10 town rural American tour

DONATE NOW     $150 buys a kindle or a chromebook for a child

DONATE NOW     $1000 provides the honorarium for a teacher to give a club or evening class in programming to high school kids

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Education

DONATE NOW     $30 buys seeds for the garden

DONATE NOW     $50 buys an appliance for our demonstration kitchen for our food science program

DONATE NOW     $75 provides the popcorn necessary to feed all of children a special snack at our weekly “Movie Night”

DONATE NOW     $100 provides the fee for one of our students to have a special immersion project such as a day canoeing on the Mississippi River, or a day at the Museums of Memphis

DONATE NOW     $200 buys an honorarium for a day for a special guest speaker or artist to come into the school and help us transform a child’s life

DONATE NOW     $500 buys a stove for our food science program

DONATE NOW     $1000 buys a share in our commercial greenhouse for our gardening and landscaping class. $25,000 provides an entire greenhouse

DONATE NOW     $50,000 buys the food truck we need to start our entrepreneur project for our food science program

+
Arts & Culture

DONATE NOW     $30 buys a round trip for a child in a rural community to see a museum in a nearby city

DONATE NOW     $50 buys a digital camera for an art student

DONATE NOW     $250 pays for a visiting artist to spend a day in class teaching kids

DONATE NOW     $1000 supports a traveling pop up art show through a 10 town rural American tour

+
Technology & Economic Development

DONATE NOW     $150 buys a kindle or a chromebook for a child

DONATE NOW     $1000 provides the honorarium for a teacher to give a club or evening class in programming to high school kids

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