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How Neighbours Are Building a Kinder World, One Gathering at a Time

Written by Sarah Friar

At the start of a new year, we often strive to make change for ourselves and our surroundings. Embarking on a new decade, I reflect on what neighbours showed me in my first year as CEO of Nextdoor: that change can begin with simple acts of kindness and that gathering together in our neighbourhoods can have a profound effect on our lives.

A few months ago, I sat down with a group of neighbours from across London, Kent and Essex to hear about how Nextdoor plays a part in bringing their communities together. I learnt about how the platform has helped with issues that plague so many neighbourhoods in the UK and across the world such as social isolation, homelessness and mental health. In every circumstance, our neighbours left with more resources than they came in with; they left with neighbours to rely on. 

I’ve been so lucky to witness the real-life impact of the online-to-offline connections that begin and become nurtured on Nextdoor. I’ve been to member meet-ups in London, neighbourhood fiestas in Spain, a local business owner meet-up in Denver, Colorado, a town hall meeting in Sydney, and a community group in Canada. I’ve watched hands, both literally and figuratively, reach across tables, to share problems, ideas, and support. Taking part in neighbourhood conversations reinforces what I know to be true: what we have in common is greater than what separates us. Even these photos strike me as a collage of one large community instead of smaller ones sprinkled across the globe. 

A year ago, I penned my first letter to you as CEO of Nextdoor. Since then, my team and I have been hard at work developing better ways to bring people closer to their local communities. We have seen a 25% decrease in reported comments between neighbours since launching our Kindness Reminder feature. There has also been a trend on the platform of neighbours coming together to form groups offline. I attended one meet-up in Australia and saw for myself how it was transforming their community. A member named Delene called on neighbours to join her for breakfast during a difficult time in her life, and now the weekly club has led to countless friendships, support systems, and one marriage proposal. For some, it is simply a reason to leave the house. What we’re doing at Nextdoor continues to grow and the why only strengthens. 

Nextdoor members at the breakfast club in Australia

While we have a lot to celebrate from this past year, we recognise that there is still much to overcome in our communities: social isolation, increased polarisation and the lack of community engagement. Physician and The Rabbit Effect author Dr. Kelli Harding, has researched how neighbourhoods and communities affect individuals’ wellbeing and affirms that the most important thing we can do for our health is to foster positive relationships. Dr. Harding shares: “A review of 148 studies with 308,849 participants found that active social circles increased a person’s likelihood of survival by 50% regardless of age, gender, or other medical problems.”

At Nextdoor, we know that cultivating more casual, everyday relationships, like those with your neighbours, is often the beginning of something bigger. For example, a chat at the local coffee shop, sharing what you did this weekend with a parent at the school gates. Sociologist Mark Granovetter calls these relationships “weak ties,” though their effects are anything but. These are connections that can help us feel less lonely and more empathetic, they are trusted sources for services, recommendations, and even jobs. They are the examples of human connections we see happen every day on Nextdoor.

As we work with experts to better measure and improve neighbourhood vitality on Nextdoor, we also turn to you as the ultimate experts on what powers your community. In 2020, we will be hosting gatherings in neighbourhoods around the world for the entire community: local business owners, community organisers, families, and new friends. Want to get involved? If you would like to host your own neighbourhood gathering in your area with the help of Nextdoor,  please share (using this link) what makes where you live so special or in need of a gathering. 

In this new year and new decade, Nextdoor remains committed to cultivating kindness in every neighbourhood by instantly connecting you to neighbours you can rely on. We know we won’t always get it right; we expect your feedback, ask you to keep us accountable, and thank you for inviting us into your community. At Nextdoor, we’re all about the neighbourhood—this year, I’m looking forward to getting to know more about yours.

35 Comments

  • Thanks I often wonder who is behind this useful helpful set up. It’s been interesting to read how far and wide this has spread globally kind regards.

  • Neighbours Is a word we read it say it but if we mean it .. it show many side , it is much more important than family because my parents or bro and sis can’t help me when I need , but the right neighbor .. with a clean mind .. with a heart full of love and understand can be my close family so late all love the other.

  • Do members meet up for coffee and cake locally from Carlos in eastbourne

  • Neighborhood is very good much appreciate the communication and awareness of many things also the events know your neighbourhoods thank you all the team best of luck for 2020

  • A very interesting article.
    The statements are so very true and the community ‘wrap around’ is so very important for all, but especially the lonely, isolated, educated, physically impaired, poorer, quiet, etc.
    Chapter Arts in Canton is a ‘magic place’ as it is a community focal point that stands no rubbish. We / all communities need this type of establishment, not a pub, not a small token gesture, but a purposeful enterprise of art , food, drink, music , films, etc etc meetings etc power on. discuss further if you so wish.

  • I have a friend who lives in Fleet in Hampshire – she may be going having regular hospital treatments, but with nightmare parking conditions at the hospital, it cost her over £50 today for taxis just for initial tests. It struck me that here in Haringey, there must be people in a similar position, too ill to travel on public transport, but fairly able bodied. Does anyone know if there is an organisation whereby I could offer my car and time as a driver a couple of times a month to help people in this situation? I’m thinking that there may be insurance issues, but as there would be no charge, that perhaps would not be the case.

  • I think our Nextdoor Group in Surrey, covering Esher, Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, Molesey and Hampton, works exceedingly well; any help requested always gets useful responses, and I always invite new neighbours to join. Love it, thankyou

  • Great way to be connected, finding/making more relationships and being community people closer!
    Thank you Nextdoor team and the managing committee!

  • Thank you for this Sarah. In sharing your vision and telling us what has been happening at neighbourhood level in so many places, you are offering a simple but effective way for people to change communities in really human ways. By meeting together we connect and are more fully alive, and that is a good thing for all of us. For some years I ran a group for people who found themselves on their own following bereavement and loss, so I saw what a huge benefit it was to them. Just getting together helped people to get through as they were no longer alone.

  • Many thanks, this is very encouraging! Here we are using Nextdoor and also have a growing and successful Neighbourhood Forum set up under the Localism Act. Among other things we are planting trees and taking other forms of Climate Change action. You can find it at https://www.tssneighbourhoodplan.org/ .

    Best wishes to all other communities! Andrew.

  • I find nextdoor quit usefull compared to crapy Facebook as people on nextdoor are more simpley help full and polite and 9 out of 10 people can answer quirys but also I use this to gain business and make custom and new friends and to help

  • What a great article, thank you Sarah, How many of us are the best neighbors we can be? I run a pub and we do our best to help in the community in many many different ways. We are still a focal point in our community in the absence of any thing else that you might think better.

  • Thank you for the nice article its good to know people out there realise how awful social isolation is. It can happen to anyone at any age through no fault of their own. Often just after you find yourself alone is the hardest part. How on earth do you cope? Where do you look to meet new friends? Do you even want to admit that is something you need to do something about asap? Its easy making friends as a kid but so much harder as a teen +.
    I have a park with a swing opposite my house if I see anyone sat there alone with head bowed, I get over there and cheerfully ask if they are O.K? A small gesture but most say I’m O.K but thanks for asking.
    You just never know if they are feeling very low and just need a nice person to say hello. Anyone elderly in a town centre looking bewildered or shaking I ask if they are O.K sir/madam do you need any help? Its not cool it won’t make me rich or popular but it could make all the difference to that person if they feel overwhelmed, lost, scared or poorly.

  • I was a manner when living in Derbyshire and looked to join a local one when moving to Yorkshire. It isn’t quite as active yet as tge Derbyshire one but it’s really useful and hope more people join.

  • I am open to ideas as to how to get neighbours meeting together regularly. I am particularly interested in people who have started discussion groups.

  • Many thanks to Ms Sarah Friar for an awareness article on ways and means to enjoy and improve your neighbourhood.
    Forming small groups of common interest among neighbours is a wonderful way to beat the loneliness. For example tea club, badminton evening group, golf group, walking in park group, library group etc. etc.
    Regards.
    Jivan

  • I really am amazed how nextdoor is doing in networking/ supporting communities. Is very creative idea. I love it. Should be encouraged!

  • Interesting blog and the idea behind it is a great idea. Friends and neighbors sharing information and help, just what every community needs. Thankyou all concerned.

  • I can say from personal experience this is a wonderful service, recently I had a disaster with my contract phone and needed a handset as I am on universal credit couldn’t afford much I posted out my situation and was humbled by the response from my NEXTDOOR neighbours and was given a iPhone 6 for free, in my time on this service I have been fortunate enough to be able to help some people myself. In closing long may this fantastic service continue to grow and continue, brian

  • Thank you so much for all this information.

    I am fortunate to have very kind neighbours and belonging to ‘Neighbours’ feel
    I have many more.

    Joan Pape
    25th January 2020

  • Thank you so much for all this information.

    I am fortunate to have very kind neighbours and belonging to ‘Neighbours’ feel
    I have many more.

    Joan Pape
    25th January 2020

  • I think Next Door is an inspiration idea and would like to send a salut.

    With the population growing its amazing how larger communities can actually lose connection with each other. Nextdoor brings groups and like minded people and activities, help, advice and confidence to a large pull of people.

    Well done and keep up the amazing work

    X❤️👏👏

  • I was fascinated ti read the CEO’s letter because I was unaware of what is happening. I read our local comments but did not realise that people were actually meeting and there was social interaction.I am very much in favour of friendly neighbourhoods.

  • I too have been able to find local workmen through nextdoor very helpful

  • Inspirational,creative,useful,connecting a better neighbourhood with helpful information.A much kinder environment is created with a view to help one another for the sake of being humane, helping the vulnerable because the community cares.
    Caring, sharing, connecting, with the ultimate goal of a empathetic society, treating neighbours with respect and care. Let the good feelings flow.
    Thank you Sarah Friar and your team.
    Kind regards

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