A stretch of the Pascagoula River along the Griffith Tract in Mississippi.
The Pascagoula River A stretch of the Pascagoula River along the Griffith Tract in Mississippi. © Rebecca Stowe/TNC

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The Mississippi Front Porch

Connecting from their porches, Mississippians find comfort in nature during difficult times.

Madison, MS

Photo of Alex Littlejohn
Alex Littlejohn Mississippi State Director © TNC

We are waking up daily to a world we do not recognize. A world that is laden with uncertainty and gripped with anxiousness. I think we could all agree there is a need for a whole lot of hope right now.

Hope that emerges when we remind ourselves that Mississippians have always held a “strong sense of place,” having always known where we come from and where we are going.  

Hope that has shown itself strong throughout our state’s history and in recent difficult times such as Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill and backwater flooding in the Delta.

Hope that can be found on Mississippi’s front porches.

Growing up, this is where I could often find my great-grandparents—on their front porch. Mama’Cille and Daddy Hollis had lived through some of the most difficult times in American history, often referencing the Great Depression and the tragedies of World War II. Even with those experiences, there was always hope in their eyes and strength in their words that let me know everything was going to be alright. 

Days spent on that front porch shaped my life. And in these days of uncertainty, it’s the very place I am drawn back to. Realizing now that my grandparents not only found hope there, but also comfort and peace in simply being outside, a sense of calmness that connected them to the beauty of our Mississippi landscape. A landscape that contains the blackwater of the Pascagoula River, the big woods of the Mississippi Delta, the rolling hills of oak, hickory and pine, and the barrier islands along our beloved coast. A connection to this landscape, I believe, may be as important now as it’s ever been.

Lately, my wife and I have enjoyed sitting on the front porch with my seven-year old son, hoping to pass down the same experiences and comfort I found many years ago. Seeing the world from his perspective, listening to what he is thinking and how he is coping, I’m reminded of the quote “To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.”

But as Mississippi is now trying to understand this world, I feel we can all find hope connecting in new ways on an old porch.

Alex Littlejohn

State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.