Good morning, Broadsheet readers. I don’t know my neighbors, and statistics suggest you don’t either. Today, we chat with Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary about why that’s a big problem.
• Hillary heading back to Iowa. Next month’s trip — her first public appearance in Iowa in six years — is viewed by most as an opportunity for Hillary to get in front of voters before a potential 2016 presidential bid. On her agenda will be Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, a “must-visit” for Democratic presidential hopefuls. The event might sound fun, but Iowa is home to some bad memories for Clinton: In 2008 she suffered a significant loss there to then-Senator Barack Obama. Time
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The answer to your problems might be right Nextdoor
As we all spend more time on the Internet catching up with old friends and colleagues now living in far-off places, we’ve stopped making connections with the people who live closest to us. As a result, a whopping 50% of Americans don’t know their neighbors. This impacts both our safety and our overall happiness.
Sarah Leary, Nextdoor’s co-founder and vice president of marketing, is working to reverse this troubling trend. Ironically, she is using a social networking platform to do it. Nextdoor connects people to their neighbors but offers a level of privacy and intimacy missing from products like Facebook. Signing up to become part of a Nextdoor community requires substantial evidence of your address and who you are. Messages you post go out only to people in your immediate area. By starting the conversation online, Nextdoor allows users to break the ice before putting themselves out there and knocking on a stranger’s door.
Clearly, there is a demand for Leary’s product. Since 2012, Nextdoor has expanded its neighborhood presence from 3,500 communities to 40,000, or roughly one in four American neighborhoods. The social network also has raised over $100 million in funding for venture capitalists.
“The neighborhood is one of the original social networks,” Leary says. “We believed we could use technology to trigger some of that natural neighborly attitude that has been around for hundreds of years but may have been hard to tap into because of people’s busy lives.”
I asked Leary to explain exactly why we should make an effort to get to know our neighbors. Here are just four reasons that were the most compelling to me:
- You will be safer. Knowing your neighbors has been proven to reduce crime. In Sacramento, for example, crime has been cut by nearly 8% and shootings are down by 30% since Nextdoor and other related programs launched in the area. “Go talk to a police officer anywhere in this country and they’ll talk about the power of community policing,” Leary told me. “You can’t put a police officer on every corner, but you can have a concerned citizen.”
- You could earn more money. Nearly 65% of Americans are more likely to buy or sell an item if the buyer or seller lives closer to their home, according to data from Harris Interactive.
- You will more prepared for disaster. Research after natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina proved that communities with close neighbor relationships were more resilient in the wake of catastrophe.
- You could live longer. Psychologist Susan Pinker writes in her book The Village Effect that getting to know your neighbors will increase your likelihood of living a long and healthy life.
After chatting with Leary, I just might have to knock on my neighbor’s door tonight and say hello. What about you?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• In Mali, women come out from behind closed doors. Less than a year ago, women in Mali were forced to remain indoors, covered in full-body and face-covering veils. A photographer received a grant from the International Reporting Project to travel through northern Mali and speak with women about their experiences. “It made just living almost illegal for women,” said one of her interview subjects. NYTimes
• Mom creates most ingenious app for teenagers. Ever. Texas mom Sharon Standifird has created an app for parents that will lock their children’s phones until they call their mom or dad back. BGR
• Startup aims to find women tech jobs. PowerToFly is a social platform aimed at connecting women in tech who may need to work from home. The founders have raised $1 million from investors like BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti and former Washington Post owner Don Graham. Re/Code
• Workplace competition hurts women. Women perform better in team environments, whereas competitive workplaces help men thrive, according to research from Olin Business School. More intricate competition models that encourage teamwork could be a potential solution. Fast Company
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