Nirav Tolia enthusiastically shows his audience slides from Odessa, Texas – a city that most listeners have never heard of – but that he grew up in. For him this is home and the people there neighbors whom he knows personally.
However when our speaker moved to San Francisco, he realized what it means to live in an average American neighborhood. According to statistics, 28% of Americans cannot name any of their neighbors. The sense of community has been lost and so have the benefits that come with it.
This experience inspired Tolia to found Nextdoor, an app and online platform that connects you – not with everyone around the globe but the people who live right next to you. In his presentation, Tolia tells stories about his approximately 50.000 users: they find babysitters, tutors and electricians via his app. They share experiences or favorite spots in the area, organize block parties or neighborhood clean ups. They fight crime together, find lost pets or just look out for each other.
According to Tolia, the positive effects of neighborhood community are measurable beyond a sense of belonging. Studies show that crime declines, health benefits become visible and the generosity increases the more neighbors connect. Tolia is hopeful that his sense of community will come back, that Nextdoor is “only the beginning”.