April 11, 2013 in Washington Voices

Social media site offers communication tool for neighbors

By The Spokesman-Review
 
To find your group

Visit the free social media site Nextdoor at www.nextdoor.com – type in your address and see if an online group has already been established for your neighborhood. If not, you can create one.

There’s a new online communication tool available for neighborhood groups, and it’s free.

Nextdoor is a lot like Facebook, except it’s meant for private communication among smaller groups.

Any neighbor who wants to start a group can go to nextdoor.com and type in his or her home address.

Nextdoor will then find out if there is an already existing group in the neighborhood, or if one can be started.

Jackie Caro, from the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services and code enforcement, has been talking to neighborhood councils about using the new website.

Caro said the biggest difference between Nextdoor and Facebook is that Nextdoor is private and just for the people who are part of the neighborhood group, making communication more targeted.

“A neighborhood like Browne’s Addition has a lot of Facebook friends because people go there for concerts and events,” Caro said. “That’s fine, but that also means anything they post on Facebook goes out to all these people who don’t live in the neighborhood.”

Jon Galow, chairman of the Comstock Neighborhood Council, said his neighborhood is trying it out.

“Some of our members have some privacy concerns so the neighborhood council is not pushing it,” Galow said. “We are looking at it as another option for communication, and we want it to spread from the membership level.” Comstock Neighborhood Council has already created a group.

At least 10 households within the neighborhood’s boundaries must register online for the group to become active. New users create a profile by entering their street address and their email address. Nextdoor uses a detailed neighborhood map to show who has signed up for the free website and who hasn’t.

Email is the preferred communication tool by most neighborhood groups, yet maintaining an email list can be a nightmare for organizers.

“It’s just so hard to track people down, so I can see how Nextdoor could be easier,” Galow said. “Commercial email lists can help you send out big mailings, but Hotmail will only let you send out so many emails at one time.”

Nextdoor also will mail out free postcards to members of the neighborhood group.

Gary Pollard, chairman of the Riverside Neighborhood Council, is also trying out Nextdoor.

“The city used to send out mailers for us, but as the budget has been cut the number of mailings has gone down,” Pollard said. “Free postcards are very attractive to us.”

Pollard said Riverside is a more diversified neighborhood than most others, because it includes downtown and is a mix of residential and business property.

“I’m curious, I think this could work for us,” Pollard said.

Both Galow and Pollard are waiting to see if residents in their neighborhoods will sign up.

“It seems like a great idea,” Galow said. “We hope people will sign up at their end.”

Watch Pia Hallenberg talk about this story on KHQ

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