Next Door divides communities into neighborhoods of approximately 2,000 residents. Each designated neighborhood has a liaison. Only those who live in the neighborhood can join this site. This neighborhood does have access to nearby neighborhoods.
For example, Columbia Heights neighborhood in Ward One, NW is divided into several neighborhoods. One, is designated “Columbia Heights NE” because it is the northeast section of Columbia Heights. Since it is located in the NW quadrant of DC, some find the name confusing.
Columbia Heights NE consists of 1181 households and has 219 Next Door members. It is bounded by Spring Road on the north and Park Road on the south; 13th, west and Georgia Avenue, east. This neighborhood does have access on the website to 13 nearby neighborhoods such as Petworth West, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Plains and Columbia Heights totaling 6203 neighbors.
Next Door.Org Promoting Neighborhoods
I feel home, when I see the faces that remember my own. I feel home, when I’m chillin outside with the people I know. I feel home and that’s just what I feel. Home is reality.” Singer Group OAR originally from Rockville, MD
The United States, specifically, the District of Columbia, maybe viewed as a network of neighborhoods. But our society has drifted away from these types of communities. People travel about. People are working diligently People are focused on their own lives, families and homes. People have forgotten the village concept.
-93% of people when interviewed say it is important to look out for your neighbors;
-28%, say they do not know their neighbors by name;
-67%, would like to know their neighbors better;
-39%, would lend items to their neighbors;
-only 9%, exchange emails with their neighbors;
-only 26%, actually speak to their neighbors.
-The percentage of Americans reporting a social evening with a neighbor has plummeted from 61% in 1974 to 46% in 2014. (General Social Survey)
Beginning in the 1930’s American society began to revolve not around agrarian communities but cities. Sociologist worried about the spread of “anomie” or unconnectedness. Sociologist Louis Wirth worried about “the disappearance of the neighborhood.” Today, cities such as Washington, D.C. are resurging. Globalization has created international next door communities, but are these “villages” of people who know each other? Are these neighbors “socially connected?”
In global cities such as DC, change is inevitable and disquieting. Your banker changes; your tennis partner moves; your favorite CVS clerk is transferred. Suddenly, “your” ceases to be and the feeling of affiliation is lost.
The nonprofit social network called Next Door seeks to change this. Nextdoor is the private social network promoting communities. This free service could be an easy way for neighbors to talk online and make all of lives better in the real world. Thousands of neighborhoods are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home. (NextDoor.org)
People are using Nextdoor to:
Quickly get the word out about a break-in
Organize a Neighborhood Watch Group
Track down a trustworthy babysitter
Find out who does the best paint job in town
Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog
Find a new home for an outgrown bike
Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name
Nextdoor’s mission is to provide a trusted platform where neighbors work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world.
“Based in San Francisco, California, Nextdoor was founded in 2010 and is funded by Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tiger Global Management, and Shasta Ventures as well as other investors and Silicon Valley angels.”
Next Door is now present in 160,000 neighborhoods including Germany and UK. 147,000, are in the US.
The Founding of Next Door: Sarah Leary, Co-Founder of Next Door, describes the communication gap that they focused on in 2010. “Twitter is good for topics; Facebook is good for families; and Linkedin great for professional networking, but there was something missing-a communication application for a large chunk of our lives.” Most neighbors don’t know each other. Maybe this is because of the long commutes or several people working in the household or technology. So Leary believes that technology can fulfill this missing piece.
How does Next Door work? First, it is private with real names and addresses that are verified. There is almost no public access. Second, it is local. Neighborhoods have discrete boundaries. Finally, Next Door is useful in terms of recommendations, classifieds, events and crime/safety issues creating a trusting environment.
Public Officials access: A year after the launch, there were calls for local officials to have access and now they do reporting power outages, traffic issues, etc.
Safety: KOCO 5 News reminds users that they must be careful on using Next Door. They advise users to go the “settings” and then “privacy.” They advise to show only your street name so only nearby neighbors can see your actual address.
Another safety concern that Next Door discovered is the “suspicious person” entry. At first, most Members were describing the suspicious person as “Young Black Male.” Some considered this to be racist. Of course, one might also say the entry was sexist and age-ist. Next Door consulted with the former Director of US Community Relations Service (CRS). He informed them that neighbors should look for other identifying features such as tattoo or clothing.
Neighborhood News Desert Despite all of the new technology or maybe because of it, there is a community news desert. Many local newspapers have closed. The major newspapers focus on national and international news. Neighborhood reporting is shrinking. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of newspapers have been cut in half between 2001 and 2016.
Term-Next: In US society today, there is something fascinating about the term, “next.” There is Next Advisor, Next Day Blinds, Next Management, Next Clothing, Next Generation, Next Twitter and Next Design. The Free Dictionary defines “next” as following, succeeding, upcoming, the next thing, next will be better.
What are you looking for in your neighborhood?
-Rust proofing for your fence and fire escape?
-Free bubble wrap?
-Push lawn mower?
-Seeking responsible nanny?
-Free paint and paint samples.
Next Door also delivers warnings and vital information:
-Armed robbery on 10th between Spring and Otis, NW;
-Found wallet at Meridian Park
-Join us for Happy Hour.
-Looking for missing youth last seen around Salvation Army.
There are mixed reactions from users. User Kerry: I like the concept of linking neighbors, but once I joined I received way too many emails about topics of which I had no interest. I have now blocked those emails and visit the site directly when I want to.
Member Sharon loves Next Door: I love cats and make it my business to take care of cats in my neighborhood. Through Next Door, I have linked many cats to their Guardians-both live and regrettably dead cats.
Member Debbie also loves Next Door: I found Next Door like the old CB radio; that is, there are so many conversations going on in your neighborhood and Next Door exposes such. In some ways, Next Door has substituted for our ineffective community association.
Columbia Heights Resident Ane I am a member of Next Door! I do get a daily digest and at times have offered advice/answers to questions. But I don't really feel more connected to my neighborhood. Sitting on my front porch makes me feel a bit more connected.
Coordination with other groups-missed opportunities?: One would assume that there would be coordination between Next Door and other community groups, but that does not seem to be the case. Robin Diener, President of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association (DCCA) reports that they have “no association with Next Door. Many people in Dupont use both the Dupont Forum and Next Door. Dupont Forum was established years ago and has been maintained by a local resident, Rob Halligan, who is also a former ANC and past DCCA president.”
Ward One Council Member Brianne Nadeau also reports no linkages to date between her office and Next Door as does Elissa Silverman, Councilmember, At-Large Friends of Mt. Pleasant Library: “We have not, Sorry!” Emily L. Wagner
The Advisory Neighborhood Commissions DC Office Gottlieb Simon “believes a few Commissioners have found it useful.” The basic area of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are Single Member Districts. There are 299 Single Member Districts, which in turn are subdivisions of 39 'Commission Districts',which are in turn subdivisions of Wards. Each Commissioner represents about 2,000 residents in their Single Member District (SMD) area.
Denver-an example of coordination: The Denver Police Department is partnering with Nextdoor to facilitate a citywide virtual neighborhood watch program and help foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications. Already 80 percent of Denver neighborhoods are using Nextdoor.
Denver Police Chief Robert White says, “Our main goal is to prevent crime, and with the additional eyes and ears of members in our community we will be safer. We encourage our community members to work together and look out for one another.”
Denver joins more than 100 city and police/fire departments who have partnered with Nextdoor, like Dallas and San Jose, who all believe that leveraging technology is vital in helping to further strengthen community ties and combat crime.
When Nextdoor partners with a city, neighbors self-manage their own Nextdoor websites and periodically get updates from city officials. Following today’s launch in Denver, residents will receive pertinent crime and safety information from their local Denver police on their Nextdoor neighborhood website. It’s important to note that the Denver Police Department will not be able to access the residents’ websites, contact information or neighborhood messages.
Future? Interviewed in San Francisco, Next Door Leaders Annie Barco and Jen Burke are excited about expanding the Next Door network in DC, US and the world. They are busy “monetizing” Next Door giving access to real estate agents and sponsoring hosts. They are testing a partnership with the Washington Post. A big push now is emergency preparedness so they are partnering with FEMA and NOAA. They emphasized that the Next Door network is “organic;” that is, the networking must start from the neighbors.
Neighborhood Adoption Stats:
There are more than 3,500 Nextdoor neighborhoods across the greater Washington D.C. area, and more than 150 neighborhoods within the city.
More than 150,000 neighborhoods are using Nextdoor across all 50 states, representing more than 77% of US neighborhoods.
Local Agency Partnerships:
Nextdoor is partnered with 32 local agencies within the Washington D.C. DMA, including the police departments of Prince George's County, Fairfax County, Arlington County, Hagerstown. Alexandria and Montgomery County (Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security).
Other statewide partnerships include Delaware State Police (May 2016), Maryland Emergency Management Agency (April 2017), and Ohio Department of Public Safety (July 2017).
Nextdoor’s Federal Agency Partnerships: Federal Emergency Management Agency (June 2017) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (July 2017).
Washington Post Columnist E. J. Dionne (8/7/17 “Is America Getting Lonelier?”) wonders, “Are we building great places to live…that are not actually neighborhoods?”
Marc J. Dunkelman in his essay, Next Door Strangers: The Crisis of Urban Anonmymity (Summer, 2017) ends by saying, In cities where neighbors remain strangers, the crucial ingredient of a thriving American community will be missing.
Those neighborhoods with high levels of social trust perceive lower levels of crime. Only 52% of those polled trust all or most of their neighbors. Trust translates into how safe one feels in their community. (General Social Survey)
Larry Ray has served as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the communities of Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights. He also served as President of NCHCA (North Columbia Heights Civic Association). Ray coordinates the Tubman Elementary School Peacemaking Program. He is the Next Door liaison for the NE neighborhood of Columbia Heights.