Nextdoor neighbor


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I’m usually not a “joiner,” but when the postcard showed up inviting me to become a member of Nextdoor Yorkville, I felt obliged to at least sign up to be more plugged into the ‘hood.

The postcard, directed to UES residents, read: “On this website, we share service provider recommendations, items for sale/free, lost pet notifications, local events and much more ... including posts about Crime & Safety issues.”

The mission of Nextdoor, located in San Francisco, is based upon the idea that the neighborhood is one of the most important and useful communities in a person’s life, and this platform will build stronger and safer neighborhoods around the world.

Am I skeptical? Would I be a born and bred New Yorker if I weren’t?

Right now, the site is new and everyone is still minding their manners, introducing themselves in polite, helpful ways — the equivalent of the digital muffin basket.

Most of the posts are quite benign: “Did you lose your keys?” a good neighbor wants to know, adding a picture of the errant belongings. Others are offering items for sale (pre-owned futon anyone?) and some want you to take their goods off their hands for free. Yes, everything from couches to cats, car seats to kids’ furniture. All you have to do is swing by and pick the item up, which is a lot more dignified than dumpster diving.

Some neighbors need advice about finding a specific type of lawyer, a knife-sharpening service, or a babysitter. Quite a few are going on vacay and have apartments to let for July and August.

Of course, what really gives the site an “over the backyard fence” feel, is the group mourning of the upcoming closing of Glaser’s Bake Shop and the recent demise of Capitol Chemists, both on First Avenue; some have questions about what will replace the now reduced-to-rubble Mega Gristedes on East 86th.

New businesses and entrepreneurs are making their presence known as well.

So, what’s not to like?

Well, although I can see the positives of this localized online network, I wonder how wise it is to announce that one is not going to be home for a couple of months or to get a caregiver from there either. After nanny Yoselyn Ortega was convicted of murdering Leo and Lulu Krim, I would think that, going forward, childcare would be procured from agencies that heavily vet their applicants.

Also, I’m always wary that these types of internet venues will go the way of the infamous Park Slope Parents site, whose notoriety in 2006 was kicked off by what is now remembered as “The Blue Hat” incident. A mom had posted that she’d found a boy’s blue hat, which was countered by a snarky charge of sexism. (What, girls don’t wear blue?) That remark was then called out as too PC. The comments that followed (and there were many) went from sanctimonious to mocking. Even after the thread had run its course on the site, it remained alive thanks to mass media coverage referring to the Brooklyn parents as privileged and indulgent, with the word “awful” bandied about.

Although I have yet to see such a discourse on Nextdoor Yorkville, there are potential signs.

A co-op shareholder of Puerto Rican decent expressed his frustration at often being mistaken for the janitor, superintendent, dog walker, and most notably, an intruder. Of this writing there are 31 replies, mostly in solidarity. Apparently, he is not the only UES resident of color often confused with hired help.

Another person got the ball rolling with a post about noise — car-horn honking to be specific. Others jumped on the bandwagon about what can be done to combat this issue. Currently no one has suggested: “Buy a quiet place in the country.”

A “lady driver” was called out for exiting the circular driveway of a high-rise without slowing down or stopping. I’m shocked her license plate wasn’t posted.

But, still, even these listings are rather tame and the comments are neither critical nor snide.

I am going to give Nextdoor Yorkville — and my neighbors — the benefit of the doubt that this online group interaction will be a good thing and will not turn into an UES “Blue Hat” situation.

Perhaps, eventually, I’ll even want to contribute my own helpful hints and comments; or perhaps I’ll realize I don’t want to be part of an organization that would have me as a member.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Back to Work She Goes” and “Fat Chick.”





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