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“We try and let our neighborhoods grow and manage themselves as organically as possible,” St. Louis Park’s Zwilling said. “We see our role, in the city, as a way to point people to different tools.”
Even if things don’t change on the ground, people may still benefit from online neighborhood networking. In neighborhoods that already maintain networking sites or neighborhood-specific blogs, people who don’t know any of their neighbors are, surprisingly, just as likely to engage in online interaction with them as are their more garrulous counterparts who personally know most or all of their neighbors, according to the Pew Center’s survey.
Gottesman said she hasn’t yet seen any evidence of Nextdoor’s effects popping up offline, though she also said that temperatures hardly hovering above zero may be countering any positive impact. Spring and summer may bring a different story.
Elizabeth Hustad is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.