Whether you’re looking to organize a neighborhood softball team, ask for a roofing company recommendation, or volunteer to help at an event, you need a way to effectively communicate with your neighbors. Luckily, we live in an age where it’s never been easier to do so!
Inspired by a lively conversation in our Community in Action Facebook Group, we’ve put together a list of the various platforms you can use to communicate with your neighbors.
Have you joined the Community in Action Facebook Group yet? If not, you should! It’s filled with amazing people doing awesome things in their communities!
Before we dive into our list and get you excited about the various platforms, we want to remind you that the most effective platform is the one that will actually get used! If your neighborhood is already using a platform effectively, it’s probably best to go along with that (even if you really hate Facebook or Nextdoor).
This list is intended for those whose neighborhood currently has no communication platform or are unhappy with the one they’re using and wish to replace or supplement it.
Let’s get to it!
By far, the most popular platform mentioned in our Community in Action group discussion was social media. Private Facebook groups and Facebook pages as well as Twitter seem to be very effective ways to communicate.
Many older neighborhoods seem to have established listservs prior to the advent of social media. If it works, it works!
Nextdoor bills itself as the “private social network for your neighborhood.” The app helpfully narrows its scope to a block-by-block radius. Front Porch Forum is another popular community-building platform. While currently only available in Vermont, they are in the process of expanding to other areas.
This is a neighborhood platform designed specifically for apartment dwellers. MyCoop is dedicated to “improving communication between residents of multi-unit buildings as well as with property owners and business managers.” Users share real-time updates with one another and use the site to share and swap.
Olio has a very specific mission: to connect neighbors with each other and with local shops, so that surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away. From excess CSA veggies to extra dinner portions, Olio provides a way to bring neighbors together through food.
Ioby is a crowdfunding platform that focuses on community-led positive change. This is a great site for uniting neighbors around innovative new projects and initiatives for neighborhood improvements. We have seen New Dreamers use ioby for projects ranging from community gardens to tool libraries.
Unlike the other platforms, Neighborland focuses on civic engagement by connecting individuals with city agencies as well as with local universities, foundations, and nonprofits. Their mission is to “empower people to shape the development of their neighborhoods.” You can use Neighborland to conduct surveys, create maps, host a project, and report back on impact, among other features. So cool!
Just looking to get free stuff? Or get rid of free stuff? Then, Freecycle or the Buy Nothing Project may be the places for you. They are grassroots, volunteer-moderated, nonprofit movements of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods.
Patch is a network of hundreds of individual news sites targeted to local news. Chances are your town has a Patch. While primarily a news outlet as opposed to a communications platform, it does include listings for local events as well as group discussion boards.
Similar to Patch, EveryBlock focuses on “all the news and talk in your neighborhood.” This site compiles messages posted by neighbors, civic information, and even local restaurant reviews. It’s not available in as many areas as Patch, but you can “vote” for your city or town to be included.
While these platforms are fun and sophisticated with all their features and up-to-the-minute communications, nothing beats talking to your neighbors in real life.
As former New Dream staffer Wen Lee discovered when her attempts at starting a neighborhood email list bombed, in-person communication is the best way to get to know your community. (You can read about her communication attempts and eventual success here.)
Not sure how to start building your IRL communication strategy? Join New Dream’s Community in Action Challenge, and you’ll receive concrete action steps designed to help you strengthen your neighborhoods and better know your neighbors.
If we’ve missed any great neighborhood platforms, be sure to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll update the list!