The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 2, 2014

‘Connecting people’ aim of effort in city

JOHNSTOWN — Nextdoor is the online equivalent of a front porch, backyard, church basement or any other place neighbors gather to discuss matters that affect them.

The social networking service’s goal is to help develop community ties in a modern world where the person living two doors down might be a complete stranger. Recently, some Johnstown residents started using the site.

“(It’s about) connecting people with their neighbors,” said Terry McIntosh, who founded a Nextdoor chapter in the Roxbury neighborhood. “I think, in my block, I might know six neighbors. You just don’t get out and talk, whether people are working more, both mother and father working more, nobody’s home, you’re not hanging out in your yard. You’re on your computer.”

To begin the Roxbury group, McIntosh, who can be contacted at terrytrue3@gmail.com, simply visited Nextdoor.com and registered. So far, the group has about 40 members.

Moxham’s chapter has more than a dozen participants.

It also appears somebody has opened a Nextdoor neighborhood for the Luxor Gardens apartments in Johnstown, according to McIntosh.

The service can be used for a variety of reasons, from promoting events to making people aware of criminal activity to recommending babysitters or  posting messages about missing pets.

“The more people you have involved on the site, the more interaction and the more traffic you get there,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh was inspired to create the Roxbury chapter by her daughter, Tera McIntosh, a former Johnstown resident who currently works as a Nextdoor city field manager in Columbus, Ohio.

“I really see the need for it,” said Tera McIntosh, whose email address is tmcintosh

@nextdoor.com. “We have a lack of communication. You don’t know your neighbors like you did 50 years ago. ... Technology has kind of driven people into their homes. Maybe this can drive people back out in a different way.”

Nextdoor, a free site with more than 37,000 registered neighborhoods, has communities similar to Facebook.

However, people can only join groups in their own neighborhoods.

Address verification can be done by a phone call or postcard. Individuals can register by using a credit or debit card or last four digits of a Social Security number.

Those interested in joining the existing local groups or starting Nextdoor communities in their own neighborhoods can do so by visiting Nextdoor.com.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @Dave_Sutor.

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