Tampa Bay homeowners learn their neighbors with "Nextdoor" - WSPA.com

Tampa Bay homeowners learn their neighbors with "Nextdoor"

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WESLEY CHAPEL, FL (WFLA) -
How well do you know your neighbors? Can you name a handful of those who live close to you? According to the Pew Research Center, 28% of Americans know none of their neighbors by name.

But there's a new social networking website in the neighborhood that aims to change that. It's called Nextdoor. The idea is to bring back a sense of community to our neighborhoods.

Bruce and Cheryl Friesen live in the Lakes of Northwood subdivision in Wesley Chapel and they were looking for a way to connect with the neighbors they didn't know when they heard about Nextdoor.

They signed up and have already gotten about one-third of their neighbors, about eighty households, to do the same.

"Whenever we see a neighbor outdoors, they're fair game. We give them a little business card. We'll introduce ourselves and say we're from the neighborhood, sign up for Nextdoor. And word of mouth since then has really taken off," Bruce Friesen said.
"Everybody has an interesting story and the more people I get to know, and the more people I meet, the more amazed I am at who is out there," Cheryl Friesen said.

"Most of the folks who live here aren't from here and don't know each other," he said. "We drive into our garages and go into our own separate lives."

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Nextdoor is a free online platform similar to Facebook but aimed at neighborhoods. Each neighborhood creates a private Nextdoor website that is password protected and accessible only to the residents of that neighborhood.  

Every neighbor must verify their home address for security reasons.  They do that in one of three ways:
  1. A postcard with a unique code is sent to the home address
  2. A phone call to a listed number registered to the home address
  3. A credit card billing address which matches home address.
Since connecting with neighbors on Nextdoor, the Friesen's have helped organize block parties and other get-togethers. "We've put up pictures afterwards on Nextdoor so everybody can comment, Cheryl said. "And what we find is the people who haven't been there and see that there are people participating get a little more excited about showing up the next time."

Bruce Friesen is also a Sociology Professor and a firm believer in neighborly interaction.  "When we're face to face, it takes a little bit more work and there's a little more risk involved but if we're able to manage that I think the connection we feel as human beings is irreplaceable."
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