I joined the Nextdoor team four months ago with one goal in mind: to help foster a stronger sense of community across Canada. I grew up in a small town in Ontario where we knew every single neighbour on our street, spending hours during the winter playing road hockey with the other kids on our block, and I vividly remember visiting our neighbours over the Christmas holidays. We looked out for our neighbours, and they did the same for us. My Mom worked at the local church, and my Dad was a member of the town council and local newspaper. Now, as a busy dad with four kids, I look back at how deeply involved my parents were in their community. As I learned about Nextdoor’s arrival in Canada late last year, my wife and I asked ourselves, “Do we know our neighbours as well as we did when we grew up?” Our answer: probably not.
The dichotomy was interesting. We were very involved in our local community through our kids’ school, sports teams and music programs, and are involved in our local parish. But, we admittedly didn’t know our surrounding neighbours as well as we would have liked.
As Nextdoor’s CEO Sarah Friar shared in her recent Note to Neighbours, “cultivating more casual, low stakes relationships, like those with your neighbours, is often the beginning of something bigger.” We know that loneliness and social isolation are epidemics not just in Canada, but all over the world. According to a Cigna study, loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In Canada, 1 in 5 people report feeling lonely, and more and more people are living alone. We can solve this together by getting to know each other, spreading neighbourly kindness in our local communities, and creating neighbourhoods where we can rely on each other and look out for one another.
In the last four months, I’ve witnessed this in neighbourhoods all over the country. I’ve been to Vancouver and Calgary where I gathered with Neighbourhood Leads who shared how community is at the core of who they are and how they live their lives. My team traveled to Edmonton to meet a neighbour who was using Nextdoor to help someone homeless and in need. I traveled to Montreal where I met with a group of new members hungry to get to know more people in the community.
Recently, I learned about a local business owner in the GTA whose restaurant was struggling and the community rallied together to save it. Neighbours posted recommendations for the business on Nextdoor, and today, it’s packed daily with locals who love supporting a neighbourhood favourite.
In all of these encounters across Canada, I’ve found something to be universally true: there’s not a corner of Canada that couldn’t benefit from a stronger sense of community. We love our neighbourhoods, and we want to get to know our neighbours better.
In order to get to know each other, we need to reach out to our neighbours we don’t already know and invite them to build a stronger community together. Each week, Nextdoor members send invitations to their neighbours via Nextdoor to get the ball rolling. I’ve even met members in Canada who’ve made their own invitations to join the Nextdoor neighbourhood, going door to door to personally hand deliver invites to meet their neighbours, not just online, but in real life. Because of this, it’s no surprise that Canada has become the fastest growing market for Nextdoor internationally, the most engaged internationally, and, while not completely surprising, the most polite Nextdoor nation globally; we love to thank our neighbours on Nextdoor!*
Just as I’m proud of the strong community ties that are forming all over Canada, I’m proud of the investment Nextdoor is making here. We’ve launched the first-ever engineering team for Nextdoor outside the Bay Area, located in downtown Toronto. Our first three engineers started this month, and we’re continuing to add to the team.
It’s thanks to all of you for making Nextdoor what it is: a true neighbourhood hub where neighbours can turn to for trusted connections. I look forward to meeting more of my Canadian neighbours and working together to cultivate kinder communities where all Canadians have neighbours they can rely on.
*As measured by the highest rate of ‘thanks’ per member in recent months.