Friends Nextdoor

How to land in a new place and create community
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Ever since I learned about Nextdoor.com I have seen its potential to help people land in a new place more quickly and build a community around themselves. Most of the time when we move it takes a while to acclimate and find a new group of friends. I would guess the time it takes most people to arrive in a new town to be 2-3 years. What would our lives be like if that time was shortened to months or weeks, instead? I think they’d be richer and I explain below how this can be done by anyone, anywhere.  

Using Nextdoor.com and other online tools such as Constant Contact* (email service provider + survey capability) and Facebook (for group functions), it’s possible to quickly build a list of people who live close by who share your interests. When one relocates, these tools can be used to create a new group of friends quickly.

I’ve been doing this in my local neighborhood here in Portland and it’s led to amazing connections.

Here are the steps I have taken to try this out:

  1. Sign up for Nextdoor.com.
  2. Created an email list for potential new friends using an email service provider, and set up a sign-up form that people can use to subscribe (or, just create a simple group in your email client like Outlook or Gmail). You can make more than one list for different interests, e.g., people who like to play chess, play music, or like to effect change to make the neighborhood more livable. A person can be added to more than one list.
  3. I started conversations on Nextdoor around various list topic(s).*
  4. Via private messaging, I asked people who seem interesting to you join my lists (provide the sign-up link) and I explained what I am up to and asked for their email address.
  5. Once I formed a group, I invited group members to events. In my case I’ve hosted house concerts which is a favorite way I like to gather with people. I have also started a Facebook group so that the members of the group can speak to one another and possibly instigate activities themselves. The cool thing here is that you’re acting as matchmaker, and all of the connections are local!
  6. Repeat the above until your social life is full of interesting people who live close by and may enrich your life.
  7. Show others what you’ve done (we learn by teaching).

I’m always open to feedback. Have you tried something like this? What has worked for you? Please feel free to help me improve this concept in the comments section below or write me @ albert@albertideation.com.

As of 9.26.19 I have been doing this for about 11 months and I’m learning as I go. I have a list of 75 people in my Portland, Oregon, USA neighborhood who have been invited to various events at my house (mostly house concerts and an orphans’ Thanksgiving) and the experiment continues. I also just learned about fellow traveler Rachael Lynn’s new book At Home Anywhere, which looks promising! 

* Another way to find people who share interests is by creating a survey (I use the tool in Constant Contact). That way you can find people who share your interests and ask for their contact information all in one effort. The link to Constant Contact above is an affiliate link. 

Here’s some of my past writing about Nextdoor.com

Yes, Yes Marsha, also has some good thinking of the challenges of moving. to a new city and making new friends

Neighborhood Notes – My Nextdoor.com Posts

Nextdoor.comMy Nextdoor.com Posts

This post ➡️ was my first post on Nextdoor.com – a social media site like Facebook that’s organized by neighborhood. I believe Nextdoor.com is the best tool for local organizing that’s ever existed and I use it to make my neighborhood a better place.  Here’s the first article I wrote about Nextdoor.com.

  1. Phasing out Gas-powered leaf blowers. Here’s our website for this effort Quietcleanpdx.org.
  2. I turned this one into a blog post on key fob/noise reduction – hereLess beeping
  3. Traffic Calming on Hawthorne and Division – Still working on this 🙂 – but we got to 20mph on residential streets and 25 on some arterials!
    Traffic Calming in Portland
  4. Do you have fruit/nut trees that you’d like to share the bounty from? – 10.16.18 – Currently, the action in Portland, Oregon is on a Facebook group that is over 1,200 members strong and growing by the day. The Portland Fruit Tree Project is also having harvest parties this Fall. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1405238632898417/   https://portlandfruit.org/

    https://portlandfruit.org/

  5. A Request: Please Drive Slower and More Carefully. This one is an ongoing issue. Luckily, we’re at 20mph on residential streets in Portland, now. I think 15 mph would make more sense (4.14.2020).
    Slow the Fuck Down

  6. Neighborhood places: Marino Adriatic Cafe on 41st and Division.
    Marino Adriatic Cafe
  7. Stop Receiving Yellow Pages @ https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com – Sadly, I can’t believe in October of 2018 yellow pages are still a thing, but they are. This is a good thread if you live in my neighborhood of Richmond, Portland, Oregon, USA. It talks about how to get off of various lists – Red Plum; Oregonian Food Day, etc. There is also a FB group for this purpose.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/196729400366257/

  8. Be Idle Freehttps://albertideation.com/be-idle-free
    Be Idle FreeHere’s more proof from the Washington Post – There is No need to idle in cold weather. 
  9. LED street Light improvements. Here’s how to get a shield on your nearby LED street light. Mention “light trespass” which is what is likely happening – light coming from the LED into your house/porch/eyes.  https://www.portlandoregon.gov/Transportation/article/672942 –
    Here’s a source for outdoor friendly lighting: https://darksky.org/fsa/fsa-products/
    If you’d like to participate in an effort to change these lights with me, please sign up, here.

    Shield Request Process

  10. Where does the dirt go? Dumptrucks on Division – Here’s a dirty idea:
    Where does the dirt go?
  11. Get Rid of Your Lawn – I’ve been posting about this one a lot, of course, given my love of Farm My Yard 🙂
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/04/lawns-are-a-soul-crushing-timesuck-and-most-of-us-would-be-better-off-without-them/?tid=sm_fb

  12. Sign up for my monthly newsletter, The Eleven.
  13. Here’s what we can do to keep large trees standing in our neighborhoods – Reform Portland’s Tree Code To Preserve Large Healthy Trees

    https://audubonportland.org/news/reform-portland2019s-tree-code-to-preserve-large-healthy-trees Reform Portland’s Tree Code To Preserve Large Healthy Trees Now is the time to reform City rules to preserve more large healthy trees in every neighborhood! Thanks to the direct action of neighbors and financial donations from the community, the 150-year-old giant sequoias in SE Portland’s Eastmoreland neighborhood were saved from the developer’s chain saws. However, the rules that permitted their removal and the cutting of large healthy trees in neighborhoods across Portland are still in place. From Powellhurst-Gilbert to St. Johns, from SW Hills to Richmond, Cully, and beyond, Portland’s neighborhoods are experiencing extensive tree cutting driven by a highly lucrative real estate development market. (article cont’d here).

    This led to starting a Facebook group to organize on this topic. Join us, here. And our newsletter, here.

  14. Learning permaculture – a possible way for us to transform our urban landscape:

    https://www.geofflawtononline.com/videos/

  15. TURN OFF YOUR CAR HORN – LESS BEEPING = LESS NOISE – This led to the post below (and one other) and a new post on my website: Feel free to share widely! https://albertideation.com/turn-off-car-horn-less-beeping-less-noise

    Stop using your car fob to lock your car and beep

  16. Solutions to Barking Dogs & Other Noise Nuisances – Answer 🙂
    Get your Dog Trained

  17. How to Throw a Great Voting Party in a vote by mail state:
    Voting Party

  18. A neat article on Communities vs. Networks – to which do you belong?
  19. Want to try out a new game; meet some neighbors; move your body?
    Birthday Game
  20. Building Neighborhood Resiliency (from 12/2016): As the snow is here – in Australia it looks warm and sunny 🙂 I just got this newsletter from an Australian group called Good Hoods.  Here’s what they write: Dear Albert, During the recent Discovery Tour around Australia we met some great people and heard about amazing initiatives working to build community connection and resilience. We now have a network of passionate resilience experts, including yourself, and together we believe we can create a nation that is ready for anything. Following the tour, we have been thinking through how we can continue to help people connect and come together. We know that resilience is a process and something that grows over time. One of the first steps we all can take is to connect with others so we feel a sense of belonging. That’s why we are launching Good ‘Hoods – a new initiative to help create connections and a sense of pride in where you live. We want to connect people who want to work together to create more resilient communities, and share initiatives so the good continues to grow. We have shared some of the great initiatives from the tour that you may want replicate in your community, see a sneak peek below: Do good in your hood: learn more about the initiatives that we discovered during our tour. If you have an initiative you would like to add let us know about it so we can continue to grow the list. Street BBQ: there’s nothing like a good BBQ to bring people together. We’re encouraging our people to say that first hello to their neighbors this summer, and we want to share the resources with you too. To help get you get started we’re giving the first 200 to register their own street BBQ a $50 supermarket voucher. These first resources are based on what we heard would be helpful. We would love to hear your feedback and ideas on how we can continue to grow and improve Good ‘Hoods. If you have any feedback please get in contact with IAG’s Shared Value team on 1300 306 493 and info@goodhoods.com.au. Please join us and become part of the Good ‘Hoods community. http://www.goodhoods.com.au/ Sincerely, Jacki Johnson Group Executive People, Performance and Reputation Insurance Australia Group SNEAK PEEK One of the great initiatives we heard about. Learn about this and others on the Good ‘Hoods website. In 2010 and 2012, floods devastated Uranquinty. So a local group, Progress Association, worked with the NSW SES to devise a disaster response plan to minimize damage from future floods.

    This led to a long list of items on building neighborhood resiliency.

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.  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 NEW 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.

PPS – Here’s my next Nextdoor.com article. It’s about how to use Nextdoor in combination with other digital tools to build a local friends/cause network. Check it out.

This article was updated on 10.17.19

NextDoor.com – The Future Is Here

NextDoor.com – A Great New Way to Meet Your Neighbors and Build Community

nextdoor.com

If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last year or two, or have been reading my newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been doing my best to spread the word about NextDoor.com.

I have been a fan of local all my life. I love the idea of the 20 minute neighborhood – being able to walk to everything you need in 20 minutes – which leads to less car use and having a lighter impact on the Earth. It leads to a lot of other benefits, as well. Not being in a car means you use other modes of transportation such as walking, biking and roller-skating. And while you’re out you end up meeting your neighbors and catching up – sometimes learning important news that you wouldn’t find out any other way. Knowing who lives around you also creates safety as everyone can keep an eye on things. This is what life used to be like in village days of yore. We’ve lost much of this familiarity as the United States has developed suburbs and we’ve designed our world to fit the car rather than what’s best for our thriving.

Enter the internet and social media platform, nextdoor.com. Nextdoor is a combination of social media worlds that many of us are familiar with (particularly, Facebook). Once you’ve signed up (which is a simple process where you, a real person, living at a real address are verified) you suddenly land in the neighborhood you live in on-line. There’s a newsfeed where you can see what your neighbors have posted, and you can also view the feed of your surrounding neighborhoods. For me, that’s North Richmond, Portland, Oregon = 200+ members, and the greater area about 2,000 members. I can connect to the people on my block, or to all the people in about a mile radius around me.

What I’ve seen so far is a mixture of things. People use NextDoor to offer each other extra of what they have (fruit was popular last Summer), kind of like Freecycle, which I helped jumpstart in 2003. The conversations are about everything from people seeking recommendations for home improvements; bodyworkers; tech support; local events; to neighborhood-watch type notifications about break-ins; missing pets and the like.  There’s also a fair bit of discussion about how our neighborhoods are developing. Currently, in the neighborhood I live in there has been an increase in old houses being torn down to be replaced by much larger scale buildings and that’s led to a lot of discussion of where we’re headed as a neighborhood and city.  These type of discussions used to happen on community discussion lists and at neighborhood council meetings, but this new forum provides an opportunity to use collaborative technology at the neighborhood level.  Without ads! Then, there are the yardsales and notices from the City and other odds and ends – things for sale; re-posts of Craigs List ads; homes for sale or rent; and new groups forming (the first of these I have seen is a local singles group).

There are many reasons why I am so gung-ho about Nextdoor.com. As someone who has been involved in high-tech for years, I am always excited when I see something come along that will help on a local level. I see this as that – a way for us all to get closer – to build community resilience through locals being in each others’ lives more. To make local bonds rather than keeping up networks that take a lot of fossil fuel to maintain. NextDoor also dovetails with another passion of mine: Farm My Yard. Farm My Yard is an effort to connect homeowners who have sunny yards with those who have urban farming skills and would like to grow food, but are lacking the space to do it. I also see Farm My Yard as a possible youth employment/business opportunity. In my dream I see teenagers using the Farm My Yard agreements and walking their neighborhoods to find a few yards to farm. This can and does lead to real income; vegetables for all; and less trips to the grocery store for everyone.

Farm My Yard

So, for me, it’s all coming together – and, I hope, we’re coming together. I see these types of developments leading to something fantastic in the future. Nextdoor.com is not perfect yet – it doesn’t always correctly identify neighborhood boundaries; the tech support can be iffy; disputes are left up to neighborhood “leaders” who sometimes make questionable calls; and I’m sure there are other imperfections, as well. That said, for now, this is one horse I am betting on! And, I recommend, if you’re not a member yet that you give it a try and see what you find. If you have comments, please leave them below.

For a better world,

Albert Kaufman
February 21, 2015

Update: 6.25.18Here’s a new article about Nextdoor by yours truly – about How to use it effectively for neighborhood change

March 4, 2015 NYT Article

9.24.15 – My neighbors pulled together via a great conversation on Nextdoor.com to preserve some giant trees and build community at the same time in Portland, Oregon, The United States.

NEXTDOOR2 – neighborhood change

NEXTDOOR3 – how to build a local community via Nextdoor.com

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES – The main issues 

2015-09-22 09.46.51

 

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