JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The first of its kind private social networking site for neighborhoods only is starting to take off in Jacksonville.
It is called nextdoor.com, and it started last year in San Francisco.
Co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia thought there should be an easier way for neighbors to connect.
He said, "Services like Facebook have shown us the value of connecting online with our friends and family. Why isn't there a service that helps us connect with people right out our front door?"
The idea behind nextdoor.com is that neighbors can first connect online, then face to face.
Some neighborhoods have planned parties. Others help each other find lost pets, share contact information and even find a babysitter or orthodontist.
"We know that when neighbors start talking, good things happen," Tolia said.
To get started, you enter your real street address to first see if a nextdoor.com is set up already for your neighborhood.
If there is not, you can start one by drawing custom boundaries of the area you want to include in your nextdoor.com neighborhood.
Tolia said, "Each nextdoor begins with an active and engaged neighbor who wants to bring nextdoor to their community."
He added the site has invested tremendous resources and efforts to make sure only your real neighbors are involved.
In fact, nextdoor.com will send you a postcard to verify the information you entered is authentic.
"I love it. I think it's great," said Ron Broom of Jacksonville's Grove Park neighborhood.
Broom started a page for his neighborhood that has grown to include more than 60 people.
Together, they use the site to organize neighborhood fundraisers, plan coffee gatherings and keep tabs on the area even while they are out of town.
"You don't have to be computer savvy to use it. We even checked in on people while in south Florida," Broom said.
Sheila Neddy is one of Broom's neighbors who recently moved to Jacksonville from New York.
The retiree said nextdoor.com is helping her adjust to a new part of the country and make friends.
She joked, "Other than that I'd be aimlessly walking the streets, meeting anyone just walking the streets."
Another neighbor, Bobi McGinnis, said the website has a safety component that is reassuring.
"If somebody is canvassing the neighborhood for some reason, and you're not comfortable with that, you can put that online," she said.
The benefit, Broom and his neighbors said, is a closer neighborhood that they feel more invested in.
McGinnis' husband, Fred, said, "The one thing you don't see in our neighborhood is for sale signs, or it's for sale by owner and two days later the sign is gone."
Eileen Robertson said, "It makes you feel like part of the family. Feels like a family. Extended family."
If you are interested in starting a nextdoor.com for where you live, click here.
The site assures your information will not show up in any Internet searches.
You also have the option of using just your street address, and all sexual offenders are cross-referenced so they are not able to join.
First Coast News