How to meet neighbors you never knew and borrow their stuff.
We have reached a point in the app-ification of life where there’s now a website you can use to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor. It’s called Nextdoor, and it’s thriving in neighborly Milwaukee. Like a Facebook feed for your immediate neighbors only, it includes both the temperamental old lady down the street and the city departments that spend your property taxes.
More than 750 Milwaukee-area neighborhoods use the service at nextdoor.com, according to spokeswoman Jen Burke, and they’re discoursing about such topics as roofing companies, fried chicken, car thefts and coyote sightings. In December, a post from the Northwest Side about three people “wearing black hooded sweatshirts” prompted responses ranging from “call the police” to “so what?”
Like a game of “telephone,” a resident’s query – perhaps about emergency vehicles – might garner a string of partial truths. And law enforcement can’t clarify: Burke says police and other governmental agencies can’t see neighborhood discussions beyond the replies on their own posts to avoid fears of surveillance and Big Brother. Still, residents can reply to the officers’ posts, which allows for swift interaction.
An early adopter of Nextdoor, West Allis has used the site to dispense information from its health and other departments. “It’s not perfect,” says Mayor Dan Devine, but it’s been “very effective in strengthening neighborhoods.”