How to use Nextdoor.com to effect Neighborhood Change

Using Nextdoor to Effect Neighborhood Change

nextdoor.comI posted an article about my love of Nextdoor.com and why it’s useful a few years ago. Since then, my thinking about nextdoor.com has changed and grown. I see Nextdoor as a much more powerful tool for neighborhood change than I did in the past. Here are some of the ways I’ve been encouraging my neighbors to make changes that may be for the better. I encourage you to read through these and give this a try – if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or write me. Thanks.

  1. You start the conversation. If you want to try to move the needle on an issue it’s great to initiate the conversation on Nextdoor. This allows you to choose which neighborhoods (just yours or others around you) are part of the conversation. For instance, if you’re missing a kitten – you probably just want to alert your neighborhood. If you’re trying to show people a better way to park, the further the reach the better. And, if you’re trying to raise funds to save a theater or movie store – working with friends in other parts of the City is a great way to get maximum coverage. Also, by starting the conversation – you can clearly explain in detail what you’re talking about and action steps for people to take. You can also moderate the tone of the conversation and possibly edit the original post once new information is added to the thread.
  2. Something is broken on the internet. Eventually, or possibly right away, someone will pooh-pooh your idea or disagree with it, or go off-topic. There’s a wide variety of responses people have when they’re presented with information asking them to change their behavior. I started a conversation recently on why loud motorcycles are not such a great thing. You can imagine the push-back – everything from “having a loud bike saved someone’s life” to “freedom!”.  You just toughen up and get used to it. It’s not necessary to respond to every comment in a thread – and, if someone is mean or posting irrelevant information you can “mute” them. I don’t recommend this as a common practice, but it may make your life a little less stressful. I think in the 5 or so years I’ve been active on Nextdoor.com I’ve muted 2-3 people. I often will write the person directly and try to get a discussion going.
  3. Nextdoor is different than other social media platforms in a number of ways.  I suppose each one has its own flavor or way of operation.  One issue with Nextdoor is that there are no sub-threads – so, we’ve got this long thread, for example – with lots of great ideas; links and good thinking. If we had sub-threads – some questions would suddenly branch out into their own conversation. Instead, when an issue is raised – it suddenly steers the conversation for a bit (or, people ignore it; or worse – people mute the person who has made the comment – and never see that person’s comments again!) (I’m sure more than one person has muted me 🙂

    One solution to this or sense I have – is that if you’re going to post anything on Nextdoor – esp. within a conversation – take a moment to make your point. Longer, careful explanations of your thinking beat short retorts (which also may end up out of order and make no sense at all!)  Snarky comments – or questions that don’t exactly follow the stream may get ignored and the person posting probably will end up looking foolish. 

  4. Spelling, grammar – double-check… Providing links to back up your comments/points – are probably all good things to consider.

    Like with all social media – you’re basically shouting to a large group of people – so take a moment and review what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense – and try for clarity. Sarcasm, and wittiness can easily confuse people.

  5. Remind people about the issue every once in a while. I you have new information to share or you just think it’s time for the 1,000 people who’ve joined your neighborhood to learn about why it’s not a great idea to beep your car to lock it – add comments to the bottom of the thread. This will add your thread to the digest version that many people get daily and thus keep the conversation top of mind. You’ll be surprised that new people will join the conversation whenever you raise it again often adding valuable information to the neighborhood hive mind.

So, what’s a way that you’d like to see your neighborhood grow and change?  Want to start community potlucks?  Get more people to rip out their lawn and plant gardens?  Encourage people to use less pesticides?  Whatever it is, take the plunge – give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised that if you can start with a positive tone and stay on topic, you’ll actually have your neighbors listening to you and possibly following your suggestions which will improve life where you live.  I’ve tried this with everything from some of the above to issues like gun control and trying to stop fighter jets from using residential neighborhoods for their flight path. All of the conversations are still there waiting for me or someone else to continually add to them. To me this is the best tool ever invented for local organizing that has ever existed. It’s not perfect (where’s the ride-share aspect 🙂  Dating match-up?  But as it is, this is quite a powerful tool and I recommend giving it a try where you live.

Happy activating!

Albert Kaufman, 5.25.18

PS – even if Nextdoor.com is not popular in your area, hop on and get started. It likely will grow if past behavior is any indication. Also, perhaps you have something similar where you live – use the above guide with whatever platform is available where you live.

A kind note from a friend

H Albert –

I’m filling out my intake questionnaire for my animal communication class, and one of the questions is: name three people you admire, and why.

You are one of the three people I picked, and I thought I’d share with you what I wrote. Enjoy:

Albert, I first met in 1999 at Breitenbush’s Summer Solstice Healing Retreat. He’s done so much to better the lives of people, to make them aware of their impact on the environment, and of the environment’s impact on them. We got to be good friends after he moved to Portland, maybe in 2002 or so. He’s an amazing connector of people and resources, and I couldn’t begin to list all the projects he’s created or been involved with. He’s got a lot of Loki energy too – always messing with people to challenge their minds. He’s involved with the BRCPO (Black Rock City Post Office) which is an interactive theme camp at Burning Man that makes fun of the bureaucracy of the Post Office, yet is also an actual post office. He gets people involved, by asking them questions or challenging them to do something in the here and now. He’s created a project called Farm My Yard, he’s been doing classes on how to make the best use of social media tools for personal or business, he’s part of the DePaving project, created a Birthday Garden in Portland (his birthday wish a few years ago, a community garden). He puts out a newsletter called the Eleven, sharing ideas with people about how we can make the world a better place in this, the eleventh hour. I can’t say enough about Albert – I really look up to him because he just dives in and gets things done, gets people engaged, is fully present, open and compassionate, and even though he may get discouraged about how the world is today, he’s a shining light that’s contagious, and that gives me hope for the world.

Thanks for all you do – – Kristi

Albert Kaufman