Are we neighbours? (Discussion on NextDoor, StreetBank and neighbourliness)

12 Apr 2017 10:00 #280614 by Vusuki
Hello everyone,

The question I asked: *are we neighbours?* doesn't actually refer to us here online on the temple. It actually refers to the places where we live. It's not always easy to get to know one's neighbours, and sometimes we might ask ourselves "Why bother?" or "How can I?". Well, I'm here to talk a little about two free websites that offer a potential way to connect (at least a little) with our neighbours. The two sites are called NextDoor and Streetbank, and I'm also going to offer some reading for those who want to understand better the positive effects of neighbourliness. Finally, I'll ask a couple of questions about being a neighbour that I took from an article.

Firstly, let's describe the websites. Mostly I'll be quoting the sites (and commenting a little on the potential problems or disadvantages that the sites won't talk about.) So here we go!

NextDoor- "Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbours and your community. It's the easiest way for you and your neighbours to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it's free. Nextdoor’s mission is to provide a trusted platform where neighbours work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world."

Here's the main catch. You have to register exactly where you live, so there is very little anonymity in signing up. You can however choose to only show your Streetnumber (without the number) through the settings. A second catch is that it is limited in scope, and you are restricted to your neighbourhood or nearby neighbourhoods with who to chat with. Lastly, on registration, it isn't clear on how to limit the number of emails you receive and so I'd advise you have a good look at the settings (click on profile in the right top corner, Settings, and choose your email settings) otherwise you will potentially get alot of emails you do not really want.

Streetbank- "Streetbank is here to help you do three things:
1. Give things away – find a grateful neighbour for stuff you no longer need
2. Share things – like ladders and drills, that go unused much of the time
3. Share skills – like DIY, languages and gardening, that neighbours might need help with"

So in a way this is even more limited in scope, but offers something that Nextdoor cannot- a much greater anonymity (Streetname and number are not known by others) and also this idea of skillsharing. In a way, you could volunteer through this and get to know your neighbours better (Beware though of burnout if you do decide to volunteer). The main catch for this site is an interesting one- a trust exercise where you must offer to lend or give something that you own *in order to register*. You can then offer more and see what other people have to offer. And if you can get past that registration trust exercise, you come to the main problem (that i've seen in my area) which is a lack of use. Different neighbourhoods have different levels of commitment and numbers of people. The more people who register, generally the more useful it can become. I believe this site has a good idea but it seems to have lost some steam along the way, and it's up to motivated people to revive it in a way, hence why I'm sharing it here.

And so back to the questions, like this one: why should we care about neighbourliness?

"Neighbourliness and connections with people around us are part of an innate human need to bond. Individuals tend to socialize, and despite the changing family structures and work-life balances, people will always be drawn to other people." This is a quote from a report from 2006 (Neighbouring in contemporary Britain, Joseph Rowntree Foundation). I think what the article has to say is a ilttle dated, but gives a good idea of positive effects and potential problems of neighbourliness for those who want to read it.
(This think-piece reviews the way people interact with their neighbours in contemporary Britain and questions whether we still need good neighbouring relationships to improve our wellbeing and our happiness.)

On a side topic, for those who want to make positive change in their communities, I'd suggest reading this:
(A ‘can do’ approach to community action: what role for risk, trust and confidence? This report examines the impact of concerns about risk on people working to create change in their communities.)

So there you are, and thankyou for reading. Finally, to make this into a more interesting conversation, here are three questions about being a neighbour from a different article (See below questions for link...)

1. We’re always in such a rush. How can we make it normal again, just taking the time to
speak to our neighbours?
2. What difference can I make, just by doing little things?
3. I still need my own space sometimes. How can I lay down some rules to do that without
shutting people out altogether?
("This unique project is the story of one woman’s bid to be a good neighbour. It explores how little acts of kindness can make a big difference to communities. Based on audio diaries recorded over a six-month period, this short publication takes the reader on a journey of delicate observations, as well as experiences and learning. Names and places have been changed to respect people’s privacy.")
The following user(s) said Thank You: elizabeth, OB1Shinobi

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