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Why Can't a Company Be a Good Neighbor Too?

A pig is not a good neighbor, at least that’s what urban planners are taught in Zoning Law 101. The first significant case regarding zoning in the US, Euclid vs. Ambler (1926), established the theoretical basis for separating land uses. In his opinion Justice George Sutherland famously coined the idiom “pig in a parlor” by applying it to conflicting uses. Following that landmark decision cities throughout the US and the world began separating agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and institutional uses, and offices were restricted to downtowns and later to office parks.

But the neighborly reputation of offices, and most commercial uses for that matter, was redeemed when Jane Jacobs pointed out the value of “mixed use” districts in her influential book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). It’s taken a few decades for urban planners and designers to complete the about face, but in today’s cities offices are now being built next door to residences, in hopes that the streets will be enlivened by both workers and residents from dawn till dusk.

Today I’m lucky to work at a company that is located in a real city, with real neighbors. Airbnb is part of a new wave of tech companies choosing to headquarter in the heart of cities. Airbnb was founded in an apartment in San Francisco in 2007, and 6 years, two moves, and over 250 employees later, the farthest we’ve moved from that apartment is about eight blocks. You see, Airbnb is an inherently urban company. Our community of hosts and guests live in the world’s global cities. We want to be where our community is.

At Airbnb we take being good neighbors seriously. We believe that you should be contributing in a positive way to any community you're part of—whether you’re an Airbnb employee, a host or guest. By enabling curious travelers to discover diverse neighborhoods throughout the world, we're creating millions of human connections between visitors, residents, and the small local businesses they both love. It’s these residents and businesses that make Airbnb destinations—the world’s neighborhoods—special. We ask our community to support their neighbors and neighborhoods, so we do the same.

In the six years we’ve been headquartered in our neighborhood we have developed relationships with our favorite lunchtime restaurants and late-night bars, used our buying power to support local artisans who make our holiday gifts and local food entrepreneurs who cater our events, we’ve found running routes up the hills and along the alleys, worked with local students as interns and mentees, welcomed guests to our theater for regular public events like Tech Talks and neighborhood exploration hackathons, and even became the first tech company to join the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association. We view the long-term lease we signed for our office as a long-term commitment to this neighborhood.

When each employee acts as a good neighbor, so too does the company. So join your colleagues in celebrating Neighborday all week: say hello to strangers in the lobby, take a walking meeting around the block, and grab a coffee from your favorite local barista—or better yet treat the barista to a coffee back at the office!

Hang out with your neighbors on the last Saturday of April (a day we're calling "Neighborday"). Click here to say you'll Do It, and here to download GOOD's Neighborday Toolkit and a bunch of other fun stuff.

image (cc) flickr user The DLC \n

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