I almost started this post with “In today’s society…” before I caught myself. But in all seriousness, creating and maintaining strong relationships with your neighbors is a really good idea. But breaking the ice and creating a meaningful network with the people who live near you can seem difficult or impossible. I found a way to do it, and it’s working better than I imagined it could.
There’s a website called NextDoor.com that lets you create a private, local, social network for your neighborhood. You can invite neighbors by email, via postcard (mailed by nextdoor.com), or print flyers and stick them in mailboxes. You need a quorum of 10 neighbors before your neighborhood site (“My-Hood-Nickname.nextdoor.com”) becomes permanent — this is to make sure there’s just one nextdoor site per actual geographic neighborhood, and to make sure someone doesn’t reserve it and then slack — but when the deadline to get your 10 invitees approaches, you can click a link to get an extension. I did this 3 or 4 times since it was slow going at first, and I’m glad I did.
Once you have your site up, you have a way to post classifieds or free items, ask for recommendations, find local help with yardwork, ask about crime or wildlife sightings, organize a block party, or … whatever you like.
I set one up for my neighborhood a couple months ago, and after a very slow start, once we hit 10 members network effects kicked in and we suddenly hit 20 and yesterday hit 30 people in 27 households. It’s fantastic. You might not want to (or be able to) friend all your neighbors on FB, and might not want to manage an email list (which doesn’t work nearly as well), but this is easy and effective.
Full disclosure: if you create a nextdoor site of your own using my referral link http://nextdoor.com/amazon/?r=kfdhck, you and I will each get a $50 Amazon gift card. But everything I just wrote about nextdoor is 100% true. I really like it, I think it makes my neighborhood safer and more fun, and I highly recommend it whether you use my referral link ($50 free!) or not. 🙂