Sarah Friar is the new CEO of Nextdoor, the world’s largest neighbourhood network that enables truly local conversations online. On Nextdoor, neighbours create private online communities that help them build stronger and safer places to call home. Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighbourhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, has been a source of inspiration and a guiding principle for Nextdoor since it was founded in 2011. Today, neighbours rely on Nextdoor in more than 220,000 neighbourhoods around the world in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Australia, and many more to come!
Happy 2019! Looking out on a brand new year, complete with that wonderful clean slate feel, I wanted to say hello and re-welcome everyone to the neighbourhood. Growing up in Northern Ireland, I was very aware of the importance of strong communities that crossed many divides, including religion. I’ve also lived in countries as far as Ghana, South Africa, and now the United States. What I’ve learned is that everyone cares about the community they live in, and stronger communities have significant bearing on health, wealth, and ultimately happiness.
Today, technology has connected billions of people, enabling quick and easy access to astonishing amounts of information. Despite these global connections, division and discord feels at a fever pitch with long-standing assumptions about our social fabric, universal values, and even the nature of truth and trust becoming frayed. Why?
In so many ways, these connections and this broad access are helpful. But, it naturally forces people to curate and organize the information they consume, in many cases reinforcing assumptions. This tends to spill over in our online and real world networks, and often groups us with increasingly like-minded people to create our own personal echo chamber. The less we prioritize the intentional building of relationships with people whose worldview is different than our own, the more we seem to experience tension and a lack of empathy towards the world around us.
As part of the Nextdoor team, I am privileged to have a front row seat to a different movement. Across the world, there is a universal yearning for the connectedness of proximity. Neighbours everywhere still love and care about belonging to a tangible, real place. In fact, neighbour is defined as “one’s fellow human being” or “a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans,” underscoring that proximity transcends just finding like-minded people. While neighbourhoods of today often look different in terms of their racial, cultural, and socioeconomic makeup, neighbours still clearly understand what makes a block, a street, a village… a good place to live.
Nextdoor has become a place where neighbours can naturally come together to help make their local communities better. The relationships sparked on Nextdoor connect millions of people back to the original social network – their neighbourhood.
What makes Nextdoor unique?
You could say Nextdoor “shrinks the internet,” making it truly local. Most of what we do online every day connects us to things in spite of distance. Nextdoor is gloriously swimming upstream, obsessed with being local. Relevant local conversations, organizations, and businesses catalyze neighbours to engage in real world interactions, and build stronger trusted communities together.
The data all around us is overwhelming. Countless studies show that wellbeing is higher among people who have regular contact with their neighbours. We need no convincing that this is a reality. We see it all the time on Nextdoor.
As we start out on our 2019 journey, we want to re-emphasize that we are here to serve you. As our membership surges to include millions and millions more neighbours across the world, we maintain our commitment to empowering local interactions for our members. Our product features and offerings must evolve and appeal to an increasingly diverse array of members, partners, and businesses, and immediately provide tangible value in connecting all of these stakeholders with their community. We’ll always have more work to do, and of course we’ll get it wrong sometimes – bear with us and help us improve.
Local. Local. Local. This is what makes Nextdoor useful, makes us unique, and represents our shared opportunity with all of you. Let’s make 2019 a year to discover what we have in common with neighbours, so that we might see past our differences. Start small, commit to connecting with one neighbour today. It’s these connections that make us collectively powerful, building stronger and safer communities.
Sarah Friar and the Nextdoor Team