Site connects neighborhoods

The city of Gresham is improving communication with residents by joining Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods. The city will use the site to inform residents on public safety issues as well as community events, activities and services.

Citizens can join the Nextdoor link by logging onto and entering their address. The website will link visitors to others in their neighborhoods through neighborhood associations such as the Gresham Butte Neighborhood Association that has 115 Nextdoor members since ramping up the site this spring.

Although being a municipal partner doesn't give the city access to neighborhood conversations, “it opens up a new channel for two-way communication with residents who opt-in for city alerts via Nextdoor,” according to a statement from the city.

Aaron Abrams, manager of the city's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, said the city can share news through the neighborhood sites as well as post emergency notifications through Nextdoor, which is free to the city and residents. The site helps connect residents with their neighbors, he said, who can go online to swap information on car prowls or graffiti, get recommendations for babysitters or restaurants, and organize block parties, park cleanups and neighborhood events. He added that Nextdoor also will be a powerful communications tool for the city, allowing departments to get important news out quickly.

“It's a site anybody in the world can use in their neighborhood, send a message to folks and get information from them, the same way Facebook works,” he said. “It connects you to people you know; it connects you to people in your neighborhood.

There are 16 neighborhood associations in Gresham, and to date, 13 of them have launched Nextdoor sites, and each is accessible only to people who verify they live in that particular neighborhood.

Mads Ledet, president of the Gresham Butte Neighborhood Association, said the site “feels like your back fence” and allows neighbors to communicate about problems in their neighborhoods, such as speeding, and the opportunity to discuss solutions.

Abrams said he is excited about joining Nextdoor because “it combines the content of a community bulletin board, the engagement of Neighborhood Watch and the functionality of Facebook.” He said it is a “great tool” to help build stronger neighborhoods.

Gresham is the fourth community in the state to have a formal partnership with the Nextdoor network, said Wendy Lawton, city of Gresham spokeswoman, along with Portland, Lake Oswego and Marion County.

“What this means is that they can send their info out to residents on Nextdoor,” she said. “Folks in any community can start sites of their own or join sites already up and running in their neighborhoods.”

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