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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Getting to know your neighbours

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How to meet your neighbours.

John W Travis, MD

I’m thrilled that the world’s largest neighbourhood networking app, Nextdoor, has come to the shire. I’ve loved using this free service for years in the San Francisco area, where I live half the year.

While new to Australia, it’s been in a number of other countries including the US for ten years. And now Australian households have access to a Nextdoor neighbourhood.

Nextdoor is somewhat similar to Facebook (which I largely avoid because I don’t trust them), with the major difference of being totally local and secure.

With Nextdoor, I get the chance to connect with people in my neighbourhood and the several surrounding ones. Their strict registration policy of verifying users’ real names and addresses ensures accountability that members actually live in my neighbourhood. When anonymity is removed, bad behaviour usually goes with it.

Nextdoor tackles the core issue of people not knowing their neighbours—leading to a loss of what psychologists call ‘weak ties’ (relationships with people who are not close friends or family). Stronger ‘weak ties’ in a neighbourhood make good things happen.

While Facebook collects my friends, and LinkedIn gathers the people I’ve worked with, Nextdoor introduces me to neighbours I don’t know. This creates a community – where we can be honest, stay in touch, and get things done.

How to meet your neighbours.

Getting together

With neighbours, I can form a walking group or a book club, borrow an unusual tool, get help in my home, announce local events, organise a carpool, offer services or sell wares.

It’s a great place to share safety information – a digital Neighbourhood Watch.

Inspired by Bowling Alone and Lost Connections, Nextdoor cultivate neighbourhood connections we can rely on. Meeting new people, builds relationships offline, in person. Making new friends and organising groups, combats loneliness.

As the founder of the first wellness centre in the US in 1975, I eventually realized that the currency of wellness is connection. Nextdoor is a powerful tool for replacing the connections that were lost along with our villages.

In my California seniors’ community neighbourhood, I’ve set up private groups that connect those with specific interests – home improvement, yoga, etc. It’s easy to gather the people on your street into a small private group.

While Nextdoor’s been in Australia only about a year, it’s grown even faster than the first years in the US or UK.

Nearly every town in Echonetdaily‘s reach now has its own Nextdoor neighbourhood. Upon joining, you’ll see postings from your neighbourhood, and opt to see those of nearby neighbourhoods, eg if in Mullumbimby you can opt to see posts from Yelgun, The Pocket, Middle Pocket, Main Arm, Wilsons Creek, Bilinudgel, Myocum, Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shores, and South Golden Beach (see Map 1).

Similarly Byron neighbours can opt to see posts in Suffolk Park, Ewingsdale, Bangalow, Cooper’s Shoot, and Newrybar (Map 2).

Tweed, Lismore and Ballina Shire residents also have Nextdoor neighbourhoods.

While South Golden’s going strong with over 100 members, some of the neighbourhoods haven’t yet fully launched with the 10 members needed in order to see posts beyond their neighbourhood. I hope this article will create many vibrant neighbourhoods.

You may wonder, ‘Do I need another platform in my life?’ Instead ask, ‘Do I care about the community I live in?’

If yes, join at Nextdoor.com.au, and then enrol your neighbours with the link to this article (TinyURL.com/EchoNextdoor) using the invitation tools on the website.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. John W Travis:

    “Do I care about the community I live in?”

    Yes, and have always managed to connect and interact with my community without the need for so-called social media apps (most are antisocial), and have even been instrumental in establishing / building communities over decades without such tech “help”. I live a satisfying and fulfilling real-life existence; why would I need a virtual one via Nextdoor?

    “Do I need another platform in my life?”

    Absolutely not.

    “With neighbours, I can form a walking group or a book club, borrow an unusual tool, get help in my home, announce local events, organise a carpool, offer services or sell wares.”

    I’ve been doing such things successfully for decades without using apps – despite living in low-density rural areas. It involves a short walk, a phone call, an email, or at most a short drive.

    A question: Who pays for Nextdoor? If it’s “free” then it’s *not* free: there’ll be a hidden price to pay. Who will be gathering personal data on users of Nextdoor?

    Humbug!

    PS: My attitude expressed above doesn’t indicate that I’m an anti-tech troglodyte: I was the 53rd Aussie to sign up for the internet – way back in the Dark Ages of 1989 – and am an enthusiastic user of that means of communication, though not at the expense of real face-to-face interaction.

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