Sure, modern communication is great. With Facebook and Gchat we can stay connected to our friends in Hong Kong and Hamburg, no problem. But how do we forge relationships with the people who actually surround us—our neighbors?
A new app called Home Elephant puts neighbors in touch about their mutual concerns: the stuff that's going down in the neighborhood. It's kind of like an online neighborhood-watch-plus-bulletin-board for hyperlocal communities. Once you sign up, you can exchange messages and alerts with people who live on your block, around the corner, or down the street. Home Elephant has a practical focus: Users share crime reports, lost pet announcements, notices about traffic disruption—that kind of stuff. The sort of information that you naturally want to exchange with your neighbors.
So far, Home Elephant serves 1,039 neighborhoods in 20 countries and counting. We just signed up, but membership in Los Angeles is still small. If the app takes off, however, it could be a great way for people to strengthen their local communities—and may just help you meet some new friends without the potentially awkward experience dropping by unannounced with cookies or whatever.