Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Common Villages, Next Door

Common Villages is one of the more unusual of our presbytery's new church developments; actually most of them are pretty unusual :). CV began 10 years ago as Village Pres. Church of Ladera Ranch. In 2014, they redefined themselves. They are now in the process of becoming a wall-less church - an idea that I totally embrace. I've worshipped with them a couple of times. The second time, recently, thanks to Minda Schweizer their intern (candidate for ministry) I learned about Next Door that uses social networking to connect people who live close by to build up communities in their geographical neighborhoods.  Woot! I thought.I bet you are wondering why!

"Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It's the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it's free." That's how nextdoor.com is described on their website.

Minda signed on to nextdoor.com by giving her home address. The address is verified by nextdoor.com in a couple of different ways  - instantly with a phone number, credit card number or by regular postal mail which obviously takes more time. She was able to define some geographical boundaries and create an event flyer. The service then mails the flyer to the homes (up to 200). So Minda hosted a Wine and Appetizer party from 3-5 pm one day on her front drive. Over 20 people showed up. More people would have showed up but they had conflicts. The best part was everybody got to know their neighbors, people they had in some cases lived near by for over 20 years. One neighbor was so happy that he kept bringing over bottles of champagne to share; these were $50 value the first two, and then $80! Generous. Other cool things happened too with kids and bunnies and guinea pigs and chickens since Minda's family is 4-H.

According to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey: Only 19 percent of people knew all of their neighbor’s names. Only 24 percent knew most of them. 28 percent knew none of their neighbors. 29 percent knew some neighbors. Sad, isn't it?

Can you wonder now about my excitement? We're seriously isolated neighbors. For years I've been trying to build more of a sense of community in my neighborhood and so I could see two uses right away. One, our neighborhood email Garden Club, that started a few years ago, may be ready to move into this mode; we are an email garden club because people wanted to protect their privacy but also wanted to share their garden produce with neighbors. Two, I'm considering throwing a neighborhood Summer Party like Minda's sometime soon. I was struck by the simplicity and appealing (non-threatening) approach she used: Wine and Appetizers, no rsvp needed, and the party place was her front drive. She had an EZ-Up so folks would have shade. Just come and get to know folks, she said. A few new people have moved into my neighborhood this year and I've been wondering how best to get to know them all and introduce other neighbors to them. Now I know. Nextdoor.com. 

Incidentally, 3 or so years ago Bruce Reyes-Chow reviewed and tweeted about Next Door 2 when they were just starting up.


  1. Last fall to get to meet some of our neighbors I rubber stamped a few simple invites, my husband walked them round to the 9 homes nearest us, and we hosted a "Sangria and Hors d'oeuvres" party. We were surprised that some neighbors who'd lived here for years did not know one another. Everyone said we should do it again, and we will.

    1. Thanks, Mary! Keep us posted on how your next Sangria and Hors d'oevres works out. Fun.

  2. Thanks Anita for sharing my story! It was fun to see community built with this simple event!


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