Online program worth exploring

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It is a sad fact of modern life that few of us know our neighbors anymore.

We’ve all heard the recommendations about neighborhood security — become familiar with the people who live next door and down the street so you can quickly determine if a stranger is cruising the area — but how many of us actually follow that advice?

We’re busy, and as time slips by, it’s easy to forget our good intentions to meet the new couple three houses down or one street over and to take part in the neighborhood block party.

The first thing we know, the toddlers we once saw being loaded into safety seats are riding bicycles or skateboards and then parking their own cars up and down the block. At least, we think it’s the same kids — maybe we should have taken the time to meet them.

That’s why we were so interested to learn about Nextdoor.com, an active online community that is designed to help people get to know their neighbors.

The Denton Police Department and police departments in four other North Texas cities launched a partnership with the networking site Wednesday, bringing the total to 11 cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that are participating.

Robbie Turner, senior city strategist for Nextdoor.com, said the site is a free and private social network for neighborhoods. On Nextdoor.com, residents create private websites for their neighborhoods where they can ask questions, get to know one another and exchange advice and recommendations.

Like we said, we all know that it’s important to meet our neighbors, but few of us actually bother to do it. When was the last time you had a face-to-face conversation with one of your neighbors?

If it’s been a while, you’ve got plenty of company. Turner told us that a national survey shows that 29 percent of people living in neighborhoods today don’t know the first and last names of their next-door neighbors.

We were surprised to hear Turner cite that statistic because we would have guessed that the percentage would have been much higher.

Officer Ryan Grelle, Denton police spokesman, said the partnership will enable the department to issue crime alerts and other important notifications to specific neighborhoods.

Grelle said 19 neighborhoods have been set up for Denton so far. Thirteen of those, he said, have officially been launched. The other six still need administrators.

Turner said the company has been around for more than two years and plays host to more than 11,000 neighborhoods across the United States. The main goal is to create a safe, active environment where people can get to know their neighbors and then set up gatherings to meet in person.

Police are hoping this becomes a virtual crime watch specific to each neighborhood in Denton.

“It’s our hope that people join up and start keeping watch for what’s going on around them and alerting others, even us,” Grelle said.

Sounds to us like www.nextdoor.com is worth checking out, and who knows?

You may finally get to meet those “new” folks in your neighborhood — before their grandkids start to drive.


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