As the opening credits to Neighbours declares, everybody needs good neighbours. But do any of us actually even know our neighbours, let alone count on them for a cup of sugar? A study from Finder found that one in five Aussies had never even met their next-door neighbours, while 41 per cent of city folk insist they’re barely acquaintances with their neighbours, let alone pals.
Pre-smartphones and Netflix, before all the long hours in offices and prior to us living increasingly insular lives, people lived on their streets, with their community – and the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” rang nostalgically true.
If you want to reconnect to your community, well, there’s an app for that. Here are some of our favourites.
This rapidly expanding social network site has just today extended its neighbourhood net to Germany, adding to its already impressive reach of 160,000 neighbourhoods across the US, UK and the Netherlands. It works like a private Facebook, where community members can share news of everything local from babysitting services to neighbourhood crime. The company, which is also currently valued at an impressive US$1.1 billion, has also just started introducing ads to the platform, further surging the company’s future growth.
Created by Adam Rigby, the CEO of LivingSocial and the cofounder of JumpOnIt, Nabo launched in 2014 with the hope of keeping communities close. Pilot programs saw 19 suburbs connect over things like garage sales, fruit co-op groups, and community-rallied street clean-ups.
“Nabo is not just another online community, but a community online that corresponds to the suburb you live in,” Adam explains. “Nabo’s benefits are enormous in terms of building better and healthier communities, reducing crime and connecting people who may feel socially isolated.”
There’s nothing like a home cooked meal… especially if it’s cooked by someone else. FoodByUs connects great cooks with time-poor foodies for full, happy tummies, and a great local connection along the way. You can search by dietary requirement, region or even flavour, but best of all? You’ll be supporting a clever local as well as getting fed.
This Netherlands-based company is based around the immediacy and convenience our neighbours used to once provide – the odd cup of flour, yes, but also things like suitcases or garden tools that are so rarely used it seems silly to buy them. So why not ask your neighbours on Peerby instead?
“People are social animals,” founder Dean Weddepohl told NPR. “We like to help each other out. Borrowing things is probably one of the oldest behaviours in nature, and we are just making it easier through technology. We created a platform that makes it easy for people to find that neighbour that’s willing to lend what they need.”
This award-winning Adelaide-born site has sharing built into its business model. Not only does the site map where you can grab free fruit, vegetables and herbs thanks to a bit of local foraging, it also points to neighbourhood spots where people are giving away free or charging a fee for small-batch produce. It’s both a great way to appreciate the natural surrounds of your neighbourhood, and get to know your neighbours (and their fruit trees) that much better.