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Bow community utilizes Nextdoor.com website to come together

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

A wedding ring is missing after a walk around the block. A bear has wandered into a backyard. One neighbor needs the name of a reliable contractor, and another found a set of unidentified keys.

In an age of social media, gone are the days of shouting this news over the neighbor’s fence. Instead, residents of Village Shore Estates in Bow post updates like these on the private nextdoor.com page that acts as an online forum for their community.

Nextdoor hosts websites for more than 18,000 neighborhoods nationally, allowing individual communities to build private pages open only to their residents. Since resident David Laflamme launched the local page for Village Shore Estates in April 2012, nearly 70 percent of the neighborhood’s approximately 100 households have joined. Members can log in to read a feed of updates, as well as receive emails about posts on the page.

“The idea behind it and what I see happening is, if it’s easier to communicate with each other online, that leads to better communication offline,” Laflamme said.

Resident Greg Baier posted a brief notice on the Village Shore Estates page a few months ago when he started his private contracting business.

“Just from doing that alone, I’ve been booked the last two months, three months, and I’m going to be booked for the next two months,” Baier said. “That’s just from the neighborhood.”

Baier bought his home in the development one year ago and joined its Nextdoor site, which is free, shortly after moving in.

“It’s like Facebook, just for the neighborhood,” Baier said.

Neighborhood resident Deb Cmar saw a post last week about a wedding ring that slipped off an elderly neighbor’s hand somewhere in the neighborhood streets, and she now keeps an eye out for the jewelry when she steps outside for her own walks. Cmar said the site helps neighbors stay plugged into each other’s lives despite hectic schedules.

“We all tend to see each other from the waist up, driving our cars or our vans in and out of the neighborhood,” Cmar said.

Cmar said the Nextdoor page can be a forum to advertise events that bring their busy community together, like an upcoming Oktoberfest dinner in September. But residents, such as Amy Hooper, can also write more personal posts as well. Hooper said she has shared items about her missing cat, a neighborhood Toys for Tots fundraiser and coyotes roaming her backyard.

And as the president of the local homeowners’ association, she can also post minutes from board meetings or updates from meetings with community officials. The Nextdoor site is a paperless, efficient way to reach the entire neighborhood at once, Hooper said, though the association still distributes fliers for the benefit of residents who are not members.

“I think it’s allowing us to kind of keep in touch with each other without having to make multiple phone calls or go over to each other’s houses,” she said.

The posts cover a range of practical purposes, Laflamme said, but they all must be connected to a name and address in the neighborhood. Anonymous posts are not allowed. Laflamme, as the page administrator, can remove any offensive posts but said he has never needed to do so.

“We haven’t had any cases of arguments or bad behavior,” he said.

“I found it interesting because I think technology doesn’t always bring us closer together, but in the case of this site, it’s wonderful for building social capital.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle
@cmonitor.com or on Twitter
@megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments1

Nextdoor has a promotion going on right now where if a current member refers someone who begins a new neighborhood site, they both get $50 Starbucks cards. It isn't just registering for an existing neighborhood site, but rather starting a new neighborhood on Nextdoor and officially "launching" it by recruiting at least 10 neighbors in the first 21 days. If you're planning to give Nextdoor a try in your community, you might as well take advantage of their offer! Here's the referral link: http://nextdoor.com/starbucks/?r=4fe82

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