Last month I came across a new Auckland-based web site called “Neighbourly”. Neighbourly is a social network, but it is not like Facebook. It is not about sharing what’s happening in your life. Neighbourly is about getting practical things done in the local area where you live and getting to know your neighbours. For example:
- Asking if anyone on your street has a ladder that you can borrow for a day.
- Looking up the community groups in your area and seeing what community events are coming up.
- Recommending a good local business or asking others to recommend a good builder or babysitter.
- Sending out an instant txt alert to everyone in your suburb if you notice suspicious people knocking on doors or scoping out cars or houses.
- Sending a message to introduce yourself to a neighbour whom you haven’t met yet. Especially if you are new in the area and shy about knocking on doors.
- Discussing council issues affecting your area and posting your ideas of how to make your suburb better.
- Selling unwanted furniture, or giving away things you don’t need.
- Browsing local interest groups to join the discussion about things like weed and pest control, or starting your own group to discuss your favourite subject with local hobbyists.
- During outages, checking if other people on your street also don’t have cold or hot water.
- Posting a photo of a lost pet in case anyone in the suburb saw it.
- Letting locals know about an issue that’s been bugging you to see if anyone else thinks the same and if you can do something about it together.
- Community groups looking for new members or promoting their events.
- Generally keeping up to date with what’s happening in your suburb.
Upon joining, each member is sent a postal letter containing a code that is used to verify their address. Thanks to this verification each member can only communicate with people in their immediate area. For example, living in Laingholm you can post Laingholm-only notices, or also include several nearby suburbs like Parau, Huia and Titirangi, but you can’t communicate with or read notices from suburbs that are further away, like Kelston or Avondale.
Another great feature is the map – you can view an aerial map of all the properties in your suburb (only the suburb that you are living in) and you can click a specific house to send that neighbour a private message. Privacy-conscious members can always hide their address and have only the name of their street showing in their profile.
I don’t think that Neighbourly seeks to replace face-to-face communication between neighbours and make it digital. Quite the opposite, I see it as a tool that aims to take away some of the barriers and make it more comfortable for people to form face-to-face relationships with their neighbours. I think it is a good use of modern technology to help us re-embrace the good old ways. It will be especially valuable for people who are new to the area.
It is free to use and you can use it from any computer with internet access. Setting up an account is easy – just click this link and follow on-screen instructions:
Hope that you find it useful. I’m also helping a couple of local community groups set up an online presence on Neighbourly. If your group needs a hand I’ll be happy to help.
PUBLISHED IN JUL 2014 ISSUE OF LAINGHOLM ROUNDABOUT.