Connect with your community
If you’ve got more in common with your herd than you do with humans, perhaps it’s time to sign up to Neighbourly.co.nz.
A free and private website that encourages community togetherness in neighbourhoods all over New Zealand, Neighbourly fosters interaction and conversation between neighbours by creating an easy way for them to talk and share online. It’s about sharing local news, views and advice and getting to know the people we share a friendly nod with as we pass one another on our tractors.
Farming cliches aside, Neighbourly isn’t just for the major cities across the country. While a number of Auckland and Wellington neighbourhoods are hovering around the 2,000 member mark, Neighbourly is certainly not limited to suburbs with lots of people.
So why is Neighbourly a good tool for rural communities to connect? Nicole Garner, an artsbased community development facilitator and Neighbourly Lead from Leeston near Christchurch, says the community platform’s biggest advantage is localised social inclusion.
‘‘It can sometimes be difficult and take quite a long time for people new to an area to build relationships with the locals because they may be commuting into the city each day for work or study,’’ Nicole says. ‘‘They may find it difficult to find out who lives where and what’s happening when because rural communities often communicate via word of mouth. Neighbourly can fasttrack their participation and involvement in local events because it makes it easier for them to find out what’s happening in their local area.
‘‘Neighbourly can make it really easy for new people to connect with the locals too. Neighbours can look at the Neighbourly map and actually see who lives near them – almost like an introduction to the neighbourhood. It can break the ice and make it easier to then connect in person over the backyard fence.’’
Neighbourly also reduces geographic distance between neighbours; many rural communities are typified by isolation and even loneliness. Long working hours and stress caused by farming issues like drought, fluctuating milk prices or financial pressures may mean rural workers don’t have the time or energy to connect with their neighbours socially. This is compounded if the nearest neighbour lives five kilometres away.
Neighbourly encourages members to communicate regularly online about everything from the weather and civil defence issues to a great sale happening in town, when face-toface interaction isn’t an option. Users can also set up groups and events to bring their communities closer together and by encouraging each other to then attend the events, can really enhance the morale of a town, especially during times of hardship or disaster.
Ultimately, Neighbourly is about bringing communities closer together, regardless of where they are in the country. Members of rural neighbourhoods can both strengthen their established networks as well as provide a warm welcome for newcomers with this easy-to-use technology, thereby ensuring their neighbourhood is filled with friends and family, not just faces.
For more information about Neighbourly and to sign up to your own neighbourhood, visit www.neighbourly.co.nz. HAVE YOUR SAY: Letters should not exceed 250 words and must have full name, residential address and phone number. The editor reserves the right to abridge or withhold any correspondence without explanation. Letters may be edited for sense, paper’s style, brevity or good taste. Letters may be referred to others for right of reply before publication. Write to PO Box 148, Matamata or email firstname.lastname@example.org.