Imagine you're sitting at home one peaceful weekend catching up on the massive Netflix queue you've created and suddenly hear sirens erupting outside your front door. At first you do nothing because you assume it's your TV but then you think, "Wait, Downton Abbey doesn't have police sirens and I'm pretty sure SWAT teams aren't a part of this historical British drama!" You walk over to your window and look out to see what's going on and find dozens of armed police officers approaching a neighboring home. You're alone. You're confused. You're curious. You Google. "Uh, police + neighborhood + whaaaat?!" and nothing comes up. You take a blurry picture and share it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and get some likes, some, "What's going on?!" comments but you have no idea! You walk outside because you're slightly crazy but you NEED to know what's going in. A police officer obviously asks you to step inside and says they can't say what's going on but it's under control. This exact scenario took place just yesterday in my neck of the woods. 

Enter NextDoor

You open up the app on your smartphone (or on your desktop!)  and alert your neighbors to what you're seeing. If it's urgent enough (in this case I'd say it most likely is) then you flag it to notify everyone instantly with an alert. Local neighbors and parents get the alert, thank you for it, and then everyone stays tuned on the same private post and shares info they're gathering in real time. It isn't lost on your Facebook feed. It doesn't annoy people that aren't concerned with drama in your specific area. Everyone feels empowered and informed! 

I've been using the Nextdoor app for a few years now and it's alerted me to numerous things that I was thankful to know instantly instead of waiting to see a blog post about it the next day at best. I've even alerted people to a fire I saw happen while out on an afternoon run so that instead of people looking up and being frightened by a horrifying cloud of black smoke, they instead looked at their cell phone and saw, "Electrical fire, Irvine Fire Department is on the scene and have it contained, no one is hurt" - and let out a sigh of relief so that they can get right back to what matters most. Their Netflix queue, Jim Cramer yelling at something,  or whomever Ellen is dancing with at the moment. 

The Nextdoor app and community has thankfully been growing at a pretty healthy rate so chances are there's already a community in your area to join! It's as simple as installing the app and then verifying that you actually live via various methods involving your mailing address, phone number, etc. This is done for security purposes and is incredibly comforting because no one wants strangers that don't actually live there peeping in on private community discussions or trying to sell you things you don't want.

Nextdoor has also been incredibly helpful in getting the word out concerning local crime, missing items, community events, wild life spottings, and combined garage sales. Even though we're all on Facebook we may not feel comfortable "friending" everyone we know in our neighborhood so Nextdoor is there to unite people under a common purpose. Still not a fan of people knowing your exact address? You can share as much or as little as you want on the site in case you're not a fan of people knowing your exact address. 

We spend so much time looking down at our phones so why not spend some of that time interacting with the people that are literally next door to us?