NeighborUp: A Shared Mission to Build Trust in Neighborhoods Across America

October 19th, 2017

Image by: John Walt. Los Angeles, CA

Earlier this summer in Dallas, Texas, a mom of a toddler sold her stroller to an expectant mother. What started as a simple exchange of stuff turned into an hour-long conversation about the unspoken challenges and joys of becoming a mom.

This weekend in Seattle, Washington, a long-time fisherman sold his Pontoon boat to a fellow angler. After they set up the boat together, they traded stories of rivers fished and memories caught.

Stories like these are what get the OfferUp Community Team out of bed every morning, and they continually remind us that our marketplace is about exchanging more than just goods. We’re helping build bonds between neighbors.

The need for those connections is greater now than ever. Fifty percent of Americans don’t trust their neighbors, with even fewer trusting government. And even though social connection helps us live a richer life, one in four of us doesn’t have someone to share personal troubles and triumphs.

As New York Times columnist David Brooks puts it, “social isolation” is the “central challenge facing our era.” According to research cited in Brene Brown’s latest book, social isolation has a starker impact on our physical health than air quality, excessive drinking, or obesity.

So we may be more digitally connected than ever, but we’re feeling more alone. And that got the Community team at OfferUp thinking: How can we support meaningful human exchange beyond our marketplace?

We landed on a simple idea. Let’s bring people together to share a meal. Our NeighborUp program, an OfferUp Community Experience in partnership with our friends at enso, is designed to strengthen trust in communities one dinner at a time.

With millions of OfferUp community members and partners across the country, we are committed to finding new ways to exchange not only goods, but the kinds of conversations and community initiatives that help decrease isolation and rebuild trust. Since there’s no magic wand we can wave to build trust at scale, our most powerful tool to restitch connections is eye contact, face to face conversation and discussions that go deeper than the weather.

With that goal in mind, we kicked off a first-of-its-kind dinner series in Los Angeles in partnership with the City of LA, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, and a group of passionate community builders from the music industry.

In NeighborUp dinners, we invite participants from diverse backgrounds to talk about the state of trust in their communities. At our dinner in Downtown LA, we brought together advocates for people experiencing homelessness and leaders from the Arts District to discuss the importance of removing labels and staying optimistic and nourished in the face of big challenges. During a dinner in South LA, we shared stories about responsible development and explored the tensions in a community undergoing great change. In a storefront on Melrose, we brought a community of young influencers, entertainers and creative leaders together to talk about the role of music in spreading a message of unity, friendship and trust nationwide.

And there’s more to come! We’re working with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and community-builders across LA to hold dinners in other neighborhoods and to train and inspire more hosts. From there, we plan to take the NeighborUp program across America and continue building on OfferUp’s mission to create trusted, connected communities.

Join the NeighborUp Movement today.

If you are an organization of community builders, we want to share your trust building efforts already taking place nationwide. Email us at neighborup@offerup.com

We couldn’t have done this without many friends and partners, and we owe them a special thanks. We are grateful to all of the founding members of the NeighborUp Movement, the Neighborhood Councils, especially Grayce Liu, Stephen Box, and Mario Hernandez and The People’s Supper for inspiration and advice on the best ways to facilitate conversations that help build bridges amidst differences.