So as I am finalizing and uploading the last of my porch sessions, releasing the impact numbers to the media and returning to my regular scheduled beach sessions for the summer, I sit here with Little Bob reflecting on the beauty that rose from the such a monumental uncertain time in our lives.
What we did collectively in my community creating a massive impact that not only affected our local businesses but helped the morale too. I know for me The Front Porch Project BR gave me a sense of purpose and joy in this time of uncertainty! I have been calling these past few months ...
I literally went from doing what I always do around this time;
... to holy CRAP! Do I have to stay at home? I can’t travel! I can’t hang with my friends!! I can’t work! I can’t fest! This shit was real! And it was hitting me hard.
While we all had to literally distance ourselves from our friends and family with the only physical interaction was with the people you already lived with, which meant for some of us it became a life of solitude.
I was one of those people. I was falling deep into the WTF! WTF! WFT! WFT! The tension was thick in the office and I was swimming around all up in my head without my heart to ground me! My mental health was crumbling.
The trinity of fear, doubt, and worry with their sidekick anger was quickly becoming my BFFs! I almost got on a plane to be with my brother in Chicago to ride this uncertainty out. It would have been best for my mental health or so I thought …
It was a $1.28M rumble of love to be exact! And it all came from a simple suggestion with a slight twist of demand ...
“Hey Jenn you need to start this in Baton Rouge NOW” came from Aimee Supp, friend and Moxey Vice President of sales, on Saturday, March 21, 2020. She was referring to a project that was started in Massachusetts just three days earlier called The Front Steps Project started by photographer, Cara Soulia.
As I read the text and took it all in, I quickly realized I was born to do a project like this. It was going to be a lot of moving parts and I knew we (my JOP team) would figure it out! I didn’t know how I was going to pay my them but I knew we need to get to work. I had no idea how big this would become that day but my sanity depended on me saying YES and figuring it out later!
I was no longer paralyzed. Nor I was acting out of fear. I was responding to a call that aligned with every bit of my being and I was going to run with it no matter where it was going to take me.
And instantly I knew the way I was going to maneuver through this pandemic even though I still did not know how long this was going to go on, how I was going to pay my employees, or if my business could survive a complete world shut down for nonessential businesses. It is was interesting how this project ended up being essential but in a different light. The very magical kind that only love can create during this uncertain time we were entering.
This project was not only essential for me and the other photographers who joined The Front Porch Project’s mission but it gave light to the community and encouragement to local businesses to keep going.
Throughout the past three months, I have learned so much moving from day to day porch to porch. I love hearing your stories, reading your post, feeling your love this project was creating. It kept me from worrying about the future and gave my focus and joy in the present moment. There is a book here somewhere in all that I have learned and I plan on writing it.
I want to finalize this post by thanking some very special people who were intricate parts of all the moving parts of this project and call I took back in March. This project was such a valuable and unmatchable team effort to pull off!
First off Aimee Supp for not only texting me the infamous TEXT that started this whole project. But for trusting in me, and going way above and beyond to support me and the other photographers. You are an inspiration to us all! THANK YOU.
Super thanks to my team!
Thanks so much to all the porch families and friends who met us outside your homes to get your picture taken. You went above the simple pay-it-forward ask to make this amazing impact in our community. And along with it, your patience and appreciation and smiles were all received with much gratitude. And thank you for the countless gifts, notes, and tokens of appreciation I received along the way. I felt the love! And I had a blast with all of you. I hope to see you again soon but under different circumstances.
Super thanks and Hi5 to the community in #TheFrontPorchProjectBR Facebook group for coming together not only going above and beyond our simple, but you also created so much love for others in the group with your words of encouragement and comments, you showed us respect and appreciation for all our efforts and helped us and each other to connect with photographers so over 4,000 porches portraits could be taken and the $1.28M dollars was received.
I am so grateful to all who checked in on me, fed me, and made sure I was taking care of myself. - Thank you. It was heartfelt to know so many want to make sure I was ok.
Thanks to all reporters, show host, and podcasters that covered our project’s mission and shared the good news to our community!
And thanks to all the businesses that shared our post and let us know how the project was impacting them! Your stories were amazing and kept us going!
You all gave me the inspiration and motivation to run with this project and keep going over 900 porches later!
I close this post showcasing my porch photos taken by the one and only Jayme Firnberg of Rockit Surgery - Photographer and Video! He is such a gem in our community and thought he wasn’t a full-on porch photographer he did take a few and I am grateful I was apart of his collection. You might have seen him taking portraits at some of the hippest events in our city!
And, of course, here are my contributions to the pay-it-forward initiative that was the heart and soul of this project!
Taylor Watson Photography - Portraits of Aimee and I on a front porch.
ElloArtist - Ellen Ogden - for new JOP sign
Red Stick Spice Company- for my fly new ice tea pitcher and focus tea
Cleggs Nursery - for my planets and front porch decor
Mestizos - my pandemic grub hub
Cannatella Grocery - My quick stop shop while on route photographing porches
Tony Cobb - Local musician and good friend
The Hope Stop - Hands producing Hope - Just good people supporting a good cause with a beautiful new storefront
Jordan Hefler - Presets and LR Actions that I am dying to play with!
And many many more I just can’t remember at this time.
Total estimated pay-it-forward investment in businesses: $1,277,309 (See area breakout below.)
Greater Baton Rouge:
2,714 total porches tracked
1,180 total porches tracked
North Shore Area: Covington, Madisonville, and Mandeville
150 porches tracked
Estimated pay-it-forward investment in businesses: $48,945
Melissa M Thornton
Kymber N Janes
Beth Curry LeBlanc
Mandy Thibodeaux Samson
Davis C. Hotard
Jillian Marie Carruth