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Website Hopes Connecting Communities Virtually Will Also Do So Offline

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – How well do you know your neighbor?

According to a June 2010 survey by Pew Research Center fewer than 30 percent of Americans know the people who live around them, but a new website is helping bring communities back together.

Mike Kissner and Sangita Subramanian have lived a couple blocks from each other for more than two years, but they never actually met until recently.

“I know my immediate neighbors, I know the people who live in the five or six houses around me,” Subramanian said, “but even on my own street I may not know somebody who’s living at the end of the street.”

Residents in the Devonshire neighborhood in Dallas are now getting to know each other better thanks to a new website called nextdoor.com.

“I was astonished,” said Kissner, president of the Devonshire Association, “in the first two days, we had 30 people, 30 residents respond to it.”

The website is free for neighborhoods and residents to join and lets users share information, such as crime alerts and missing pets.

Individuals can interact with each other through a community-wide forum or by using private messages.

“It’s proven to be a fantastic source of information and camaraderie between the residents here,” Kissner said.

The site is only visible to registered residents within the neighborhood and gives users a platform to share recommendations, ask for help and become acquainted with the people living around them.

“I have personally posted recommendations for a handyman and a housekeeper,” said Subramanian, “and I have received terrific responses.”

Kissner has offered a number of those responses, calling the service “personal” and beneficial for meeting and communicating with their neighbors.

Simply put, the power of the Internet has helped Devonshire become plugged in to their community in an easy, accessible way.

“It’s ironic, I think, that we’re using this technological feature to get back to the way things probably were in the 1920’s and 1930s,” Kissner explained, “where people knew their neighbors and sat on their front porch.”

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