Next Door: Using Your Cell to Build Community

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How do you contact your neighbor? Do you have their phone number? Do you wait until you see them out and about? Do you head over and knock on their door? Or do you just not contact them at all?

Nextdoor is a social media app that seeks to fill that gap and blend the virtual world with our real one a bit more. Now you can use the app to not only message your neighbors, but stay up to date on upcoming meetings and events, learn about families’ members and pets. And more importantly, just see who lives in your neighborhood.

It’s a great way to stay updated on what’s happening in your area and to your community.

“We created this company because we believe that the neighborhood is one of the most important and useful communities in a person’s life. We hope that neighbors everywhere will use the Nextdoor platform to build stronger and safer neighborhoods around the world,” states the company’s website.

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The app is private to those in that area. You can’t sweep over to Beechwood or NOTA and see who lives in what home. It only shows your immediate neighborhood and the boundaries of your map.

But like most social media users, the app depends on a large network.

Most of the popping networks mirror the agency and engagement in real life. NOTA, North Winton Village have large and noisy networks. North Marketview Heights and Beechwood are quieter. You can use the app to send postcards or invite your neighbors but the app has a built-in age component. Like most networks, younger people are more likely to use it. And when you first get on, if it’s dead, you’re likely to uninstall it.

But the app’s founders are finding users aren’t just on there to discuss neighborhood meetings. They’re discussing break-ins, missing pets and it can also be an excellent way to politically organize…but not in the traditional sense:

“You’re not on Nextdoor to rant about Donald Trump, or to complain about your last flight on United Airlines,’’ Steve Wymer, the firm’s vice president of communications and policy told POLITICO. “You’re there to talk with your neighbor about the need for a stop sign down the street.”

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Or to advocate for new speed humps, traffic signals or road clean-up. The action is much more localized giving residents the chance to engage about the issues they care about but also learn what other issues plaguing their community members. One person fighting for a traffic signal radically changes when the family down the street wants one for their kids’ play and another neighbor could use the same signal for a blind parent.

To download NextDoor and learn more, head to their website

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