How to use to effect Neighborhood Change

Using Nextdoor to Effect Neighborhood Change

nextdoor.comI posted an article about my love of and why it’s useful a few years ago. Since then, my thinking about 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. Please read through these and give this a try – if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or write me.

  1. Be the one who starts the conversation. If you want to move the needle on an issue it’s important that you be the one to initiate the conversation on Nextdoor. This allows you to choose which neighborhoods (just yours, others around you or “anyone”) are part of the conversation. For instance, if you’re missing a kitten – you’d want to alert just 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 hoping to achieve and you can provide clear 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 I’ve muted 2-3 people. I often will write the person directly and try to get a discussion going. The key thing is to stay on message – you’re likely trying to make things better for your neighbors – stay with the original topic and don’t get too concerned with off-topic rants.
  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. Don’t be that person – tell a story. Take a moment to educate and illuminate your point. 

  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 potentially speaking to a large group of people. 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. If you have new information to share or you just think it’s time for the 1,000 NEW people who’ve joined your neighborhood group to learn about why it’s not a great idea to beep your car to lock it – add a new comment to the conversation. This will add your thread to the digest version that many people receive daily and thus keep the conversation fresh in peoples’ minds. (This also works in FB groups – if you post a new comment to a conversation, that conversation rises to the top – it doesn’t matter how old the conversation is!) 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.

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 lawns 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 is the best tool ever invented for local organizing. It’s not perfect (where’s the ride-share app?  Neighborhood dating match-up?  But as it is, this is quite a powerful tool and I recommend giving it a try where you live in the way I have outlined above.

Happy activating!

Albert Kaufman, 5.25.18

PS – If is not popular in your area, hop on and get started. It likely will grow and like many things – it’s good to be involved early. Perhaps you have something similar where you live – use the above guide with whatever platform is available.

PPS – Here’s my next 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, and again on 3.28.22


  1. Kristen Kessler says

    Hi Albert,
    I’m a member of your Quiet PDX group on FB. I really don’t like next door, but just posted about leaf blowers. I know I’m going to get snarky responses, and people calling me selfish. Which comments are worth responding to. I got one response already, The lady didn’t agree, and said I shouldn’t expect my whole neighborhood to change for me. Should I respond politely or let it go? I don’t want to appear biased and just respond to people who agree with me.

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