This is a guest post by my friend Joseph Porcelli who runs a Boston based non profit called Neighbors for Neighbors. And he needs your vote.

How many neighbors do you know on your street?

When was the last time you did something together as a community?

Have you ever had to deal with crime in your neighborhood, or known a neighbor in need but did not know where to start?

Well, if you lived in my neighborhood in Boston, you’d know lots of your neighbors, you’d have hosted an event in the last six months, and you’d know exactly what to do about crime cause you would know your local police officers. If a neighbor needed help you’d know where to go for resources.

How is this possible? It’s because we’ve leverage the social network platform as the new online social infrastructure for our neighborhoods. Just like you invest in your businesses to earn fiscal capital, we make it possible for neighbors to invest their good intentions to earn social capital.

My name is Joseph Porcelli, and I’m the founder and Chief Executive Neighbor at I’m writing today to ask for your help in sharing our social infrastructure model with you, so that you too can communicate and collaborate with your neighbors and public servants like we do.

My hope is you’ll be inspired to vote for us to win $250,000 to fund our operation as we are competing in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.


Neighbors for Neighbors is a Boston Based 501c3 nonprofit I founded with my neighbors in the summer of 2004. We originally set out to increase awareness about crime in our neighborhood, but soon realized that our neighbors wanted to meet each other, do activities together, and serve each other. To keep up the momentum we had created, we turned to technology so that everyone could share, create, listen and participate directly, without our intervention.


Today, Neighbors for Neighbors is pioneering the new online social infrastructure for neighborhoods by operating neighborhood-centric, community-generated social networks powered by The networks serve as a soundboard for voices and a springboard for action. Unlike Facebook, Neighbors for Neighbors connects people who live, work and serve their neighborhoods, with the intention of bringing people together offline to do activities with and for each other.

Check out our pilot network


Our members have created over 140 groups ranging from running and reading groups to advocacy groups organizing for affordable housing. In the last year, we came together as a community over 500 times. Together, we’ve transformed our public spaces, increased safety, and grown our collective grassroots innovation and problem-solving capacity.

Over the last year we’ve received national recognition as a Gov 2.0 leader for our work in connecting and building trust among residents and public servants such as police officers. We are even key partners in the Boston Police Department’s Virtual Policing Strategy, as seen on BPD News.


Imagine what would be possible if your neighborhood — and every other neighborhood in the world — had a network like ours. What would you create and what problems would you solve?

We are not too far away from scaling our operation and you can help!

Please vote for us right now and every day this month.

With $250,000, we’ll will hire staff to:

Sustain the Boston operation (currently we are run by volunteers and have no funding)
Meet the demand for and provide technical and operating support to individuals and municipalities who wish to replicate the NFN model in their neighborhoods
Convene the “Neighbor Movement” where individuals, organizations, and community technologists will share best practices and build broad support for neighboring.


You invest in technology to build financial capital and we invest in technology to build social capital. By helping us you’re helping yourselves, your families, and your neighbors.

Please vote to help fund our important work!

I also suggest you follow us twitter @NeighborTweet. You can help increase our chances of winning by tweeting – Vote to help fund @neighbortweets online social infrastructure for neighborhoods #pepsirefresh

Thank you, neighbors from all over,

Joseph Porcelli,

Your neighbor in Boston.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

87 thoughts on “Social networks as the new social infrastructure for neighborhoods”
  1. I love this idea! It’s awesome to see a community that is truly a community. My community is like this, but not nearly as deep as they are.

  2. Great concept in using social media, its feel great to be a part of a community that embraces technology and uses it effectively. Social media has also been used effectively by charities and business models such as kiva very effectively.

    1. ZK,

      Thanks for the comment. It’s great for me to be here amongst so many experts with so much knowledge.


  3. You know if people take something from this and start being innovative then we are going somewhere.

  4. Concept is good!!
    But the lack of the awareness is what may kill it. Another fact is that people do not have much time to socialize in this rocket age.

    1. Abhik,

      On our JP network, our members sign up at about 20 a week for organic growth. On some of our other networks, not so much. Do you have any suggestions?


  5. Thanks you for your kind words! The best thing about our model is that you too can replicate it in your neighborhood – right now! Hopefully soon, we’ll be able to provide you best practices and support!

    Joseph Porcelli

  6. This is a great idea, and a great tool to get people actively involved in neighborhood projects. I hope that this will catch on in other communities, as well.

    1. Jona,

      Getting neighbors together to do things in person is the whole point.

      Thanks for your comment.


  7. Good thing you thought of this. Having an online neighborhood comm makes it easier for neighbors to contact each other in case of meetings/emergencies. But I wish there was some sort of mobile phone alert for this, for some neighbors who don’t go online often. But yeah, I’ll def vote for your site, Joseph. And I’ll tell my friends too!

    1. Thanks Cristina,

      There is an app on Ning called nutshell mail which delivers a daily digest of all posts that that can be filtered by feature which solve this for you. We’re also looking into integrating for mobile text/app organizing.


      1. I see. I don’t use Ning at all, so thanks for the info. Maybe I ought to join and see what it’s all about.

  8. I have seen more and more neighborhood communities pop up, so I like this idea. We have one in my neigborhood in Ohio. We really leverage the email list to broadcast any crime that takes place in our developing neighborhood. The site has been a lifesaver in terms of sharing resources for babysitting, and advising on contract workers. We even set up a blockwatch using the site. I know that friends in other cities have started community sites using WordPress and Ning. I am not sure I like the interface on your site, but will be interested in seeing if it catches on. Personally, I think it’s a little busy, and seems to offer a lot of everything. Just my .02 cents, for what it’s worth.

    1. Veronica,

      Thanks for your comment and feedback. I’d agree that our site does feel a little busy. We’re constantly exploring new way to demonstrate the varied types of information that is being posted as well as educate our users on what they can do and how they can do it. Suggestions would be appreciated.


  9. This is a cool concept, I think. Isn’t it odd to think about how SM has evolved? I live on a cul-de-sac, and get pretty good face time with my neighbors. Before living here, I lived in a condo for 7 yrs, and never saw my neighbors. I don’t know if it’s the kid thing that changes the way we talk and mingle with neighbors, but I sure long for the way I grew up, with plenty of friends and family contact. Let’s hope that this enhances AND promotes increased community. I want my child to grow up with what I had.

    1. Hey Patty,

      I too lived on a cul de sac growing up for part of my life. Playing with my neighbors was so much fun. Our networks are kinda like cul de sac 2.0 in that they increase the opportunities for interaction.


  10. That’s a truly inspirational story. I wonder if this can be done on a larger scale, say, for a state-wide community. Would it work the same way? I know it would be harder to organize something like that, what with the larger number of people and a more diverse group, but do you think it can be done?

    1. Wilma,

      What our users have in common and is one of the key compelling factors is geographic location. I think if you spread it out to far – the harmony would be lost. Unless it for a cause people can emotionally relate too. Food for thought.


  11. I wonder if this could work in big neighborhoods. I’ve always lived in the bustling city– born and raised in Manila, Philippines, moved to the States in my teens. And the only time I knew my neighbors’ names was when I was a kid. Some of the neighbors I’ve lived with in the past were not friendly enough, and I don’t know if they’d be willing to socialize online. Still, this is a great idea. I hope someday most neighborhoods will have online communities like this.

    1. Hey,

      Your right, not everyone in a neighborhood wants to socialize and many people have had bad experiences with their neighbors. Having taken this into account, our network, in addition to helping people socialize, help them solve problems, provide access to resources, and key information like Crime Stats. We believe it’s these additional value ads which make our networks work!


  12. I’m amazed how your organization was able to grow without any funding. It’s been six years since you started this site/org, and wow, you and your neighbors must’ve done a lot. And I really like the idea of neighbors connecting and communicating online. It saves a lot of time. I just voted, and I’ll make sure to vote tomorrow too.

  13. I love the fact that you started this online organization because you and your neighbors wanted to increase awareness about crime. I think it’s great that you wanted to serve your community first. The socializing came later, but the service came first. I hope you win the $250,000. 🙂

  14. Your Jamaica Plain site looks really organized. If my neighborhood had something like this it would make life a little easier.

  15. Currently is ranked 112th in votes. We need to vote, guys! I’ve been voting everyday since Monday.

  16. I was looking at the Jamaica Plain forum, and I saw discussions on lost and found items (mostly gloves) and for sale items/properties, but I noticed not a lot of people are replying on posts. Although that may be because they’re just not interested on the discussion.

    So my question is, do most of the neighbors/members participate in blogs/forum discussion? I’m just curious about the percentage of members who actually participate.

  17. I am forever waiting for the local free paper to come through the post to know what is going on locally. This is a great concept to bring online benefits to neighborhoods.

  18. Sounds like a really cool idea. I think that so many people don’t know who they are surrounded by, and how much we could help each other if we knew each other better.

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