Monday, June 26, 2017

A frugalist's social media site

This little blog post is a loving tribute to a social media site,  I stumbled upon this site a little more than a year ago, and I've been grooving to it ever since.

For one thing, this site provides me with yet another source of re-homed items, a way to find people who want to use things that would otherwise be tossed. I picked up a vacuum cleaner that almost works  (more on the almost-vacuum-cleaner in some future post, probably); just this past weekend I got some native plants (shasta daisies and lemon thyme) through my NextDoor connections.  Some people offer stuff for sale, but I haven't had the urge to buy anything yet.  (No surprise there, I guess).

Shasta Daisies, about to move into my front yard.

But NextDoor has done more than get me a couple of freebies or help me offload my own unwanted stuff.  It's really helping me to connect to my neighborhood and my neighbors in ways that build that strong social capital that I believe is so important, and that I felt I was missing for many years.

For one thing, I get to see the kinds of things my neighbors care about. There's a surprising (to me) number of my neighbors who are very nervous about crime, and "suspicious person sightings" come up fairly regularly.  There was the great outdoor cat debate, with many people eventually being won over to the side of the woman who really, really wanted other people to keep their cats out of her yard (and who'd kicked off the debate by announcing she'd remove them to the Humane League herself, if the cats entered).  I'm really appreciating getting to know the neighborhood in a way that I couldn't otherwise have gotten to do, and to see sides of social issues that affect my neighbors that I couldn't have seen just by jogging past their homes in the early morning.

We also get updates about local happenings that wouldn't make the paper -- nearby gas leaks, traffic patterns changing over the weekend because of a school graduation, water line issues.

Fourth-of-July Ramble through the neighborhood
But I get to meet with people face-to-face because of the website, too, and that's what makes me love NextDoor the most.  I learn about gatherings in the area, like the bicycle-pedestrian Fourth-of-July parade through a couple of blocks of shady streets, ending up at a giant ice cream party.  That family-friendly ramble was just a hoot and a half.

And I've even gotten the chance to join a pair of social/educational groups.  Last fall, one woman in our neighborhood started a group she calls "LOUD"; that stands for "Locally Organized, United in Diversity".  It's not actually a loud group at all; it's a bunch of fairly sweet people who get together once a month and have speakers come in to educate us about local diversity issues: the ways our local school district supports its refugee/immigrant children and families, for example.  The other group I've joined happily is a native plant gardening group, which likewise gets together once a month.  (That's how I got those shasta daisies, by the way).

I'm not a FaceBook person at all, and I've heard that there are local neighborhood groups on that platform, too.  But from what I've gathered from my neighbors, this particular group is more focussed and usable for communications between neighbors.  It's almost, but not quite, the modern version of a front porch or a town square.

And that's why I'm now on social media.


  1. Ours is mostly lost dog postings and things from Fox News.

    1. Oh, yeah -- the lost pet/found pet/mangy animal sited memes. We have a bunch of those, too. We don't have reposting of news stories, really. It's probably the peer pressure from living in a politically diverse neighborhood; a right-leaning rant gets jumped on by the left-leaners, and vice-versa. Whenever that happens, we get a lot of pleas for civility on the site, and so things pull back from the abyss.

  2. I got several pounds of home-grown tomatillos from neighbors last year via Nextdoor! They planted a little too ambitiously, and I'm crossing my fingers they did the same this year. The site does give me a little cognitive dissonance, though, when I see how worried my neighbors are about crime. It makes me wonder whether I'm living in a fantasy world because I really think our neighborhood is very safe, or they are overly jumpy, or the truth is somewhere in the middle. But the free stuff and local news is very useful!

    1. Yay for tomatillos (and other food from neighbors' gardens)!

      I think a little cognitive dissonance is good for me; it reminds me not to be complacent about my world view. (But the dissonance is real, for sure!)