Custom Porchfest Sites by Kirk Israel /

This page is to give people interested in running their own porchfests an idea of the websites I can help make to support that. (Plese pardon the rough draft nature of it.)


Porchfests are events where a neighborhood arrange to have a bunch of bands or other performance folk play on various porches in the neighborhood, often on a summer Saturday afternoon.

The earliest Porchfest is the one run by Ithaca NY in 2007 - in fact they keep a page of known porchfests.

I live near Boston. In 2011, Porchfest came to Somerville, MA. In 2014, Jamaica Plain started their own, and founders Mindy Fried and Marie Ghitman enlisted my aid as programmer and webdesign, making a website to allow bands and porches and volunteers to signup, playing matchmaker with bands and porches

(Somerville's model has been "tell us what porch your band is playing on, and we'll tell you the time your neighborhood is scheduled for, and make a nice map". To maximize inclusivity, JP decided to play "matchmaker", so that even people without their own appropriate porches could join in the event.)

I created a tool (the "Hourtron") for arranging bands on porches, generated block schedules and interactive maps, and even some print materials. (You can search for "porchfest" on my developer blog to get even more behind the scenes info.)

Later, I started doing the websites for more neighborhoods: Newton, Belmont, Fenway, Natick... I also consulted with Someville and helped them build a version of their map page that could better withstand the heavy loads of people searching for bands on the big day.

What Sites Get

I am more of a web engineer than a web designer, but I have been able to make some acceptable front pages. JP Porchfest is an example of what I've done on my own (pouring much work into it the first year), Fenway is me collaborating with more talented visual designers, and Newton and Belmont kind of split the difference. In each of these cases, I provide reliable webhosting as well.

I make it easy for each site to have custom band, porch, and volunteer signup forms, including "check here for terms and conditions" and band photo uploads:

There's a list of core questions I've seen as useful on other sites, but the actual questions are customizable. (One free bit of advice: don't ask for requests from potential bands or porches unless you are willing to put a volunteer in charge of looking over them and responding accordingly...)

Once most bands and porches are signed up, I provide a tool called the Hourtron allowing admins to arrange what band is playing where (it also provides visual hints if a band has requested a specific porch...)

When all the information is set, I make up webpages (including mobile friendly versions of the map page) with the interactive map and bandlist:
As well as block schedules:
I also have techniques for turning embedding that information into downloadable/printable PDFs, either on my own or in co-operation with proper print designers. (I do have a fair amount of experience thinking about what makes a good print map - it's often trying to get a LOT of information into a limited space, and sometimes there are deep challenges in information display... do people want to lookup a band and find it on the map? Or is it more important they be able to see what bands are playing around where they are "now"?)

What I Don't Provide

I can only give vague advice on promoting on social and local media, on neighborhood/police contact, on figuring out if you need insurance or if a waiver suffices, etc. I know some porchfest runners who might be willing to either chat or consult and give you the benefit of their experience.

The Cost and Nitty-Gritty


Porchfests are a "side hustle" for me, and not my day job. (I'm also busy with several activist brass street bands.) I do it because I love the idea of porchfests, and of being useful to people in general. I charge for it because I don't want to devalue my time, and to help keep myself motivated during the "slog" of it all. Over the years, I've been trying to optimize my code so that each individual porchfest site is less of a time burden for me, but that's an ongoing process.

Some porchfests find big sponsors - local businesses, banks, civic groups, etc, willing to offer financial support, happy to get their names and logos associated with such a delight activity, and so budgets can be relatively large. Other sites will be run on more of a shoestring, with individual donations powering things.

I generally don't want the cost of the website to stop an event from occurring, but nor do I want to be an afterthought when the budget is more generous. So I charge on a sliding scale, as low as $200-400, but sometimes in the $2000-$3000 range. That includes basic webdesign, webhosting, and, at the higher end of the respective ability-to-pay-ranges, print materials.

As you've probably gathered, I'm not much of a business negotiator, so I rely on goodwill and the power of porchfest karma to stop myself from being taken advantage of.

If this sounds interesting to you, let's talk! Contact me at kirkjerk at gmail dot com.