Special Report: Meet the Neighbors

Special Report: Meet the Neighbors

There's a modern day app taking us back to a better time.
Remember the "good old" times, when neighbors actually talked to their neighbors? Well, it seems as though we've lost touch with our sense of community.
A new study suggests 28-percent of Americans can't name a single one of their neighbors.

In this special report, "Meet the Neighbors," Carina Corral shows us a modern day app taking us back to a better time.

It's brazen acts of crime -- like a woman attacked and nearly kidnapped in the front yard of her north Fresno home-- that have neighbors reaching out to one another.

"I just met my neighbor to the south of me tonight and I wish we can all get together and know each other," said one neighbor in this community nights after the attack that sparked a  neighborhood watch meeting where Watch Leader Rene Ramirez told them about an app called "Nextdoor." 

"This wasn't to induce paranoia, this was just to show people that there are other facets to aid in their home security," said Ramirez.

It's a free, social networking site strictly and private for neighborhoods and acts like a virtual neighborhood watch. 

Clovis Police Corporal Jim Munro knows it well. He started a site for his own neighborhood. One of his first alerts was a woman caught on surveillance stealing UPS packages off doorsteps.     
"The whole neighborhood was just up in arms. 'This can't happen in our neighborhood. We're gonna find this girl,'" said Munro. And she was eventually caught, which Munro also alerted neighbors of her arrest on Nextdoor.

Being an officer, Corporal Munro did his research before bringing the app to his neighbors.

"We've seen no issues with the site. It's working as its intended to. Whoever created it, it's a pretty neat creation."

While Clovis P.D. has not officially partnered with "Nextdoor," other local departments have, such as Madera and Fresno. 

"One of the reasons we've partnered with the folks like the Fresno Police Department is that residents want to have a dialogue with local police so they can report suspicious activity and make their neighborhood safer," said "Nextdoor" Co-founder Sarah Leary via a SKYPE interview with Carina.

The app doesn't have to be for just crime alerts. It's also bringing communities together. At a time when neighbors don't really communicate like they used to, it's helping them get to know each other.

"Next door" states while 20-percent of posts are about safety, 25-percent are people recommending painters, babysitters and other service providers.

The rest are about found and lost dogs, items for sale and for free and block parties, just to name a few. This site is really bringing back a sense of community to the neighborhood.

CARINA: "How would you recommend neighbors getting this started in their neighborhood?"
SARAH: "All we need is one person to step forward and say they want to reach out and start connecting with their neighbors."  

One person tells another and the next thing you know you have a thriving on-line community. Carina was surprised to learn her neighborhood already has a site with nearly 250 neighbors staying connected.

CARINA: "People might be surprised, like I was, to find there's already one started in their neighborhood."
SARAH: "There are already over 440 neighborhoods that have started sites across the valley."

Your neighborhood may have one, too, and, if not, why not be that "Nextdoor" neighbor to bring your community together? It's easy to do. Just go to nextdoor.com and after a few simple steps you are set up on the free site.

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