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The Real Estate Wonk

Going virtual to make neighborhoods more neighborly

Younger members of Gail L. Dener's neighborhood association suggested a neighborhood website in the '90s, but older members didn't see the point. Who needed to go online when you could just go right outside?

There was no easy way to set a site up, either.

"We tried to get some help in establishing a website for county neighborhoods, but could not connect with anyone who had the expertise," Dener wrote me in an email.

Well -- the once-robust association for the Parkville neighborhood since died "with a whimper." But a website? Now that's a much easier prospect.

Dener was happy to see a story last week about companies offering free online social networks for neighborhoods or other ways to connect with neighbors virtually.

Companies include Nextdoor, Home Elephant, My Virtual Neighbor, Yatown and Hey, Neighbor! (That's just a sampling -- more seem to be popping up all the time, including some that haven't gone national yet.)

"When a dog runs away and we see a car slowly cruising the street, we have no way other than email to send an alert," Dener said. "And some people don't read it until they get to their weekend. I love the idea! Let's have more on how to maintain the neighborhood-ness of our homes. After all, it's what drew me to decide on Baltimore back in the 80's in the first place."

Do you do any community communing online? What do you use, and how well does it work for you?

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