How to organize your neighborhood online: NextDoor.com

by David Esrati on July 20, 2013

in big ideas for Dayton OH, Social Media as a change agent

In South Park we know our neighbors. It’s one of the incredible things about living in this neighborhood. Not only do we know every neighbor on the block, we know their cars, their kids, their pets. And even blocks away- we all know someone. Tonight, we’re having one of our famous Porch, Patio and Deck Parties- or PPD’s in the local lingo- where we start at one house, potluck- and then move to another. We buy beverages, the door charge is $5 a head- and everyone is welcome.

However, getting the word out requires a bunch of work. We have a neighborhood website done in WordPress, we have a listserve currently running on PHPlist and then there is a Facebook group. We also end up printing flyers and having block captains deliver them door-to-door. Some of these work better than others, but all have pluses and minuses.

Recently, I ran across Nextdoor.com which is a really great intra-net solution for neighborhoods. The reason I say intra-net is it’s really built for knowing your neighbors and only your neighbors. It has real privacy controls and doesn’t require Facebook membership as so many other sites do (but it does work with a Facebook signin).

The beauty of NextDoor is that it’s based on real geography, with verification of members by your actual residence. Taking info from several sources, it verifies identity and geo-maps you to your neighborhood- which a group of you can define the boundaries of. It allows for notifications like a listserve, discussions, classified ads, recommendations and makes it easy to connect neighbors without worry of it showing up in search.

In less than a two weeks, our stats: “28 neighbors (25 of 1111 households) have joined Nextdoor South Park.” What is even cooler is that it also allows you to share info across your neighborhoods borders to your next door NextDoor neighborhoods- so we can reach out to Oregon, St. Anne’s etc and they to us. Apparently Oregon has had theirs up and running a little longer.

As a tool for helping neighborhood organizations in Dayton, be they neighborhoods, block clubs, watch clubs, or even what’s left of the priority boards, NextDoor is a free tool that helps you connect with everyone- without them having to be on Facebook.

The one thing that’s missing is how to invite honorary external neighbors – like our Community Based Police officers, or neighborhood champions/developers like Theresa Gasper who would be registered by NextDoor in Beavercreek. NextDoor is on it-

We are planning on creating a way for public safety officers (and potentially other nonresidents with an important role in the community, like HOA management company staff) to have access to NextDoor websites if the Leads in the neighborhood agree. However, we don’t yet have that option developed.

Until then, with the approval of your NextDoor neighborhood Leads, you can invite the community leader and have them register using your address. Then, they should add a message to the bio section of their profile to explain who they are.

I’m also thinking about how to turn it into a way for elected leaders to effectively be included in conversations- in the future.

This could be a powerful way to improve communications between voters and candidates.

Please try NextDoor for your neighborhood- and see if you can build critical mass and create an effective forum and report back in comments.

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David Esrati July 29, 2013 at 8:02 am

The DDn had a brief article about how Cincinnati was officially adopting NextDoor as a neighborhood development tool:

Cincinnati hopes to strengthen its neighborhoods by partnering with an online social networking website.

Mayor Mark Mallory recently announced the partnership with San Francisco-based Next-door.

The co-founder of the free, private website says it helps residents of more than 16,000 neighborhoods nationwide talk about neighborhood issues.

Residents only have access to their neighborhood’s page and can post about local events, safety and other issues.

Police and some departments under the city manager will be able to post emergency notifications and other information on individual Nextdoor sites within the city.

At least 40 of the 70 websites that Nextdoor considers part of Cincinnati have signed up.

Interim police Chief Paul Humphries says the partnership will allow police to direct crime information to the affected community.

via IN BRIEF.

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Alicia Meyers August 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

We’ve found that Nextdoor websites work better in neighborhoods with at least 50 households and up to thousands of homes, since it allows the neighborhood to more easily reach the “critical mass” of active posters that is needed to help a Nextdoor website thrive. It can be difficult to achieve that critical mass in a neighborhood that has fewer households. However, every neighborhood is unique, so creating a website with slightly more or slightly less households may work for you and your neighbors. If you’d like to start small, we can always help you expand your neighborhood boundary in the future. Also, with our Nearby Neighborhoods feature , Nextdoor members now have the ability to share messages with their surrounding Nextdoor neighborhoods. This gives you the option to share some messages with a wider audience, while keeping some posts private to only your immediate neighborhood.

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