In countless newer subdivisions in Florida, most everyone is from somewhere else. The neighborly bonds formed over decades in older communities is simply not there.
"What used to occur naturally with connections to other people doesn't happen. Now we have to be a little more deliberate," explained Bruce Friesen, who teaches sociology at the University of Tampa.
To make that happen in his neighborhood, Friesen and his wife Cheryl went to their computer and signed onto Next Door.
WHO'S NEXT DOOR?
Imagine Facebook, but focused on your neighbors. Next Door is part of a new generation of hyperlocal social media. The Friesens became neighborhood organizers with Next Door and signed up dozens of nearby residents in The Lakes community in southern Pasco County. Now they know most of their neighbors by name.
"Joy put up a post about organizing the Easter egg hunt," Cheryl said as she scrolled down the local Next Door site.
Need help from a neighbor?
"People offer up babysitters and are looking for babysitters all the time," she said. "We needed to put up a ceiling fan and a neighbor on Next Door suggested a really good electrician."
WHO ARE YOU REALLY?
Unlike many Facebook friends, neighbors often meet one another after connecting on Next Door. They organized a cookie exchange in The Lakes.
"One of the women was dropping off cookies and I said, 'Hi, you must be Amber!' We met for the first time face to face," recalled Cheryl.
Bruce posted an invitation. "I said we're going to be out walking our dog. So, if you see us, say hello, and lots of people have done that."
It's not just for socializing. While crime hasn't been a big problem here, neighbors often exchange information about vandalism or anything that looks suspicious.
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR
Next Door is spreading to neighborhoods throughout Florida and the rest of the nation. Only residents of a particular neighborhood are allowed to join the neighborhood site. Next Door has a coded security system to confirm that those who apply are actually neighborhood residents.
Once you're signed up, you'll know where other members live, so neighbors can keep an eye out for one another.
The Friesens say Next Door is a new method to achieve an old-fashioned sense of community where people know their neighbors.'
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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