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.
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.