NeighborTree: Connecting Communities

Many factors are considered when buying a home. First location, and then, well, location. The reason the physical address is so important is in part due to your neighbors. Who your neighbors are affects a big part of your life. Recently a friend of mine had his car keyed due to a misunderstanding about a parking spot. In other neighborhoods you’d never hear of such a thing.

Staying connected to those around you is important. People who live in the same general part of town can help each other in many ways. From safety concerns, tips on the best schools, upcoming events, restaurants, to just shooting the breeze- these are all benefits of communicating with those around you. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen as much as it may have in times past. City life in particular lends itself towards disjointed lifestyles where you may not see those who live right next to you. Our mail comes through a slot in the door. Banking is done online. People don’t take the time to chit chat while buying groceries. Neighbors tend to keep to themselves.

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NeighborTree offers a social network that helps connect neighbors again. They provide free neighborhood websites where people can share news, concerns, photos, and anything else important for the community.

Currently most neighborhoods don’t have a common place to meet either offline or online. Those that do are often connected by their Home Owners Associations. HOAs sometimes set up websites so people can post and read information related to the community. Although in most cases HOAs are beneficial and helpful to their communities, they’re occasionally known for taking liberties with their power. As such they don’t always enjoy a relationship of trust with their residents. NeighborTree not only offers a free neighborhood social network, but also a neutral forum for them to meet. It’s not owned or sponsored by HOAs, and users have the ability to post comments both publicly or anonymously.

The full set of features includes Neighborhood Newsletters, Documents and Downloads, Photo Albums, News & Alerts, Event Calendar, Discussion Forums, Online Member Directory, Private or Public postings, and Member Pages. They also have comment sections with the ability to flag inappropriate material. Neighborhoods themselves are defined by the users, which is by neighborhood name. For instance, I live close to the famous North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. This neighborhood would be the title of our community page and would have its own separate website. Users can search for and join their neighborhood, or define a new one if it doesn’t yet exist.

One interesting aspect about NeighborTree is that beyond being free, it actually gives money back to the community. NeighborTree allows local businesses to sponsor neighborhoods. A portion of these funds are paid back to the community with neighborhood scholarships, parties and/or improvements. NeighborTree is also often able to get specific events sponsored by local businesses. This is a win-win for both the neighborhood as well as the businesses. It’s an easy way to market your services to a neighborhood, and the residents are able to benefit with events or improvements.

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Probably the best part about NeighborTree is that it fosters positive interaction. Neighbors can socialize, buy & sell things, plan events, or discuss public safety issues in real time. Invariably, some degree of discussion and debate will take place as well. This can be a forum to discuss hot button issues such as the actions of the HOA, or local political issues. In the NeighborTree community all members are board members and have an equal say.

NeighborTree provides neighborhood social networking websites to all types of residential communities. It’s both free and as anonymous as you’d like it to be. Communities will be strengthened by joining together and tackling issues together. It also is a forum for neighbors to reconnect and live as they’re intended. As Neighbors.