Dear Readers,

When FPR launched in 2009, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew our culture, economy, and politics were broken, and believed that we would have some repairs in mind. Given what has been said at the level of presidential politics, we have failed. But other evidence suggests that in many ways our voice has been heard. Our themes of place, limits, liberty resonate in some quarters now more than ever. “Localism” has gone from being a fringe movement to being, in some ways, a centerpiece of American thinking. I’m not sure how much credit we can take for all that, but we can take some, at least.

We recently concluded our fifth annual conference, a highly successful gathering of souls in upstate New York. New members were brought on to the Porch as a result, and our platform got just a little larger. Plans are already underway for next year’s conference. Our imprint now boasts three volumes, with more on the way.

The key to the enterprise, of course, is this website. Readers who have been with us for years might have thought the site has gone stale. A look at the comments section may suffice as evidence. We’ve had no redesign, the persons involved in starting FPR haven’t been writing as much, and it hasn’t always been easy getting the high-quality sorts of essays our readers require. Part of this problem is  finances: FPR has always operated on a shoestring budget, largely run by the voluntary and uncompensated time of its editors. We try to pay writers until our funds run out, at which point it becomes difficult to solicit new content. But we keep plugging away.

Then too, these enterprises probably have a shelf life. In many ways, the key ideas of FPR have already been stated. New readers may not be able to find easily the essays that get to the essence of what we’re about, but those essays have already been written and rehashed. Nonetheless, the task of extending those ideas, enucleating their implications, and connecting them to social problems still remains. And to this task we remain committed.

So I am happy to announce that we are in the process of redesigning the website. Thanks to the generous donation of time and craftsmanship by one of our loyal readers, our new website is almost complete. It will in all likelihood be up and running by Thanksgiving. I’m confident our readers will be pleased with the new design. It’s much cleaner and easier to use. The font is more attractive, and essays will print more attractively. It reads better on mobile devices.

Most importantly, it will be more user friendly. We have fixed the search function. The layout is more intuitive. It will be easier to find particular essays by topic and author. The “Local Porches” function will actually be useful.

The conference, the redesign, and the imprint are all evidence to our ongoing conviction that the themes we discuss remain as vital as ever, and our commitment to defending the ideas of place, limits, and liberty in an increasingly mass and illiberal age. In this, we need the continued support of our readers: to keep reading, to offer helpful suggestions, to participate actively in the comments section, and – when possible – to consider an offer of financial support.


Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. Thanks for the update. As part of these changes, I would request that the current editors consider re-running a selection of the “best of FPR” since its inception. You could run one per week for 10-20 weeks. The choice, of course, would be up to you. Thanks for all you do.

  2. I enjoyed all three FPR books and hope there will be more forthcoming.

    Do you have plans to offer audio downloads of the conference lectures? I would gladly pay.

    • I’d also reconsider using the rocking chair image as the post photo here. It’s not high-res, and as a result the “place, limits, liberty” text is blurry.

      What you need are high-res images used specifically for this purpose. I don’t know who your web design guy is, but it’s something he or she should be able to do.

  3. The new web design is appreciated, but what this joint really needs is Jason Peters posting here weekly again.

  4. What happened to e-mail notifications? The new web site looks nice, but how am I going to know when to check for new articles? I don’t facebook, don’t read every tweet that comes across my timeline, and don’t do RSS feeds. E-mail notifications were just the right thing for a site like this one.

  5. Actually, that problem seemed to get healed shortly after I posted my comment. Before it did, I noticed that it seemed to be affecting everyone’s comments. I figured somebody had specified the wrong date in the php code, or something of that sort.

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