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Enhancing Local Communication With Nextdoor.com

September 12, 2016

I have been an enthusiastic fan of the local social network, Nextdoor, since it launched.  I started one for our neighborhood right away, and have worked to increase participation because I believe it has potential to drastically improve communication between neighbors as well as between neighborhoods and law enforcement agencies. We have made a few gains, but I notice recently that many members do not understand how the system works.  A neighbor recently asked me where to find instructions to use the site.  This inspired me to find this tutorial and create this post with some simple suggestions.

One of the most common misunderstandings seems to be about who can see the posts.  Some folks think that because our police department is a member, and does post useful information to the community using the system, they are monitoring Nextdoor full-time.  The posts initiated by the police force are visible to the force.  All other posts are private from any government agency.  There is a private messaging system with which to privately contact any cop who is in the system.  Some officers also publish their phone numbers or e-mail addresses.  This is not an official channel to report crime.  It is a way to dialog about community issues that may include crime.  The goal of Nextdoor is to increase engagement, not enter the arena of law enforcement.  We already have a police force working very hard on that.  Increasing engagement may eventually improve our crime statistics just because more pertinent information is shared.

The calendar and the classified sections are excellent tools to promote events or let neighbors know about services offered.  The classified section provides free advertising between local establishments and local residents.  The reason to use these special designations is simple. The conversation that is known as a thread or stream will move on with time and be buried by newer posts and conversations.  New members will not be likely to search the conversations held in the past.  They might, however, check the classified section or the calendar, just as they might in a newspaper.  These useful sections are underused where I live.  If a member shows interest in an event on the calendar Nextdoor will send an e-mail reminder when the event is soon to occur.  There is a new feature I have not used much myself that tags, and recommends businesses that are discussed in the thread.

If you do not have a Nextdoor site in your area, I urge you to start one.  It is available as an app for  the phone, which most people use now. If you have a site I encourage you to use it to get to know your neighbors.   It is free.  What is not to like?

new recommendations feature

new recommendations feature

Snitch, Tattle and Tell by @UnMakeaBully

May 31, 2016 3 Comments

This excellent production from down under shows how bullying can be contained by communication.  I found the twitter account @UnMakeaBully, a brilliant collaboration of students around the world creating anti-bullying content.  Their creativity and first hand knowledge of school bullying make the kids own content the ideal catalyst for reform. This piece highlights students’ unwillingness to reveal the truth to authorities.  They have a cultural belief that snitching is a betrayal of their other student colleagues.  They maintain a stone wall because of peer pressure.  By finding the rapport with the kids, the school authorities can change the situation for the better.  I am a huge fan of this movement.  Let’s stop little bullies from becoming grown up bullies.

The group maintains an instagram account where  they showcase the productions and the students who participate in them.  I am happily impressed with the very creative solutions these young people are finding and promoting.  If there is a starter drug for a lifetime of violent tendencies, it must be school bullying.  It is an excellent place to start to reduce needless violence in our society.  “Don’t Wait” is the group’s motto.  I could not agree more.  Please check out this group for more innovative ways to bring bullying (child as well as adult) to heel.

What Is My Modus Operandi?

December 11, 2014 6 Comments

unique bloom

unique bloom

The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  This is the theory that detectives use when they construct a modus operandi for criminals they want to catch and crimes that may be linked. In business it is helpful to know the M.O. of your customers or clients in order to better serve them.   This way of observing things applies to politics and daily life just as much as it does to business and law enforcement.  In our world today it is often necessary to construct a modus vivendi between individuals or groups just to survive. The U.S Congress is engaged in just such a desperate way of doing business.  We look at big institutions and see these conflicts but rarely do we bring it down to a personal scale.  How do I know what my own M.O. is?  How do others perceive my communication?  Do I poison the conversation with preconceived notions?

Normally we start be assuming we are right and entitled to our opinion.  In conflict, however, both sides usually reveal some irrational thinking that arises from prejudice.  If we bring some reflection to the subject beliefs often cloud all evidence to the contrary.  We may not be able to start from the position that we might be wrong, but by asking some simple questions we may discover our own ulterior motives and intellectual weakness.

  • Do I listen in an open spirit, without a need to form a reply?
  • Do I do any research before adopting something as a fact?
  • Am I more concerned with appearance than with reality?
  • Do I hold any hard feelings for entire countries, races, or religious groups?
  • Could I possibly be too prejudiced by my past to make good decisions on this subject?
  • Can I see the opposition’s point of view?
  • Is my argument based on fact or emotions?

Each of us has a unique way of doing business, and patterns are engrained in all of us.  We could all do with less mendacity and obstruction in our lives.  To do that we have to identify the ways we create that obstruction through our thoughts words and deeds.  Look within, Gentle Readers.  You are your own answer.

unique bloom

unique bloom

City Connect, Enhancing Communication Between Law Enforcement and Citizens

November 25, 2014 2 Comments

City Connect

City Connect

I just learned about an app called City Connect that creates two way communication between citizens and cities.  Our neighbors have been using Nextdoor, an app which connects neighbors for private secure communication.  Our police department in Tucson joined Nextdoor in September, and has been using it to update the public on crime and safety issues.  Nextdoor keeps private the neighbors’ interaction unless it is in response to an officer’s post.  This system is excellent for building community and better communication between neighbors.  It allows the police to give us vital information if an emergency should occur, and update us about crime trends and how to avoid being victims of those trends.

Nextdoor discussions range from yard sales to lost turkeys.  I think our greatest achievement to date was the safe return of Lurkey the Turkey who escaped from his own yard, was spotted running up the street, captured, and lived to tell the story.  Lurkey would have been a goner in this hood full of coyotes if neighborhood spirit had not saved his feathered tail to gobble another day.  We have more members all the time, and the ability to communicate does enhance our safety and quality of life.  I look forward to the growth and strengthening of Nextdoor in Tucson. We have just begun to use this fun and powerful digital tool.

We learned through an officer’s post on Nextdoor that City Connect offers a full menu of information about the TPD, everything you ever wanted to know. The one stop shop for information about the police and what they are doing includes:

  • The twitter feed is active with traffic and crime data as well as department news
  • The Facebook page has frequent updates and requests for information on specific incidents.
  • They have a Youtube channel in the menu with some instructional videos and some surveillance threads.
  • The best and most revolutionary, in my opinion, is the  highly simplified format to either submit a tip, which you can track by password, or report a problem by e mail.  Many crimes or suspicious activities go unreported because it is not convenient and people don’t want to interact with cops.  This app allows photo evidence submission and your choice of contact methods, right on the phone.  It is clear that city law enforcement in my city and across the nation can use some positive innovation and transparent communication.
  • The crime reports map shows details on reported crimes in your area as well as sex offenders living nearby.  Using the GPS you can see the exact distance from your home and the kind of offense.  We are big this week on assaults, but also have some reported theft.  This very nifty interactive map allows you to create a digital alert in real time or report information you my have pertaining to a specific reported incident (or sex offender). This feature makes it super easy to track what is happening close to your home, and possibly contribute to solving active cases.

Your city has to be a participant and have loaded up their profiles, etc. for you to be able to use this system.  I am very pleased that our police department has taken this step to make communication smoother and easier. I think it will grow in popularity because it aggregates information in one place, and makes participation quick and painless. The same company has created another app called Citizens Connect, to enhance communication about civic matters.  That sounds good too.  Do any of the gentle readers have experience with either one of these apps?  I think they are brilliant.

Citizens Connect

Citizens Connect

Communication Loop

May 16, 2013 4 Comments

Butterfly convo

Butterfly convo

“The single biggest problem in communication

is the illusion that it has taken place.” GB Shaw

Are you in communities? Are you a leader? Do you create valuable content?  Does the internet make you compulsive and lonely?  I have read several posts lately about the brains of depressed people, and the effects of loneliness on health. It appears that insomnia, which seems to afflict most Americans now, can be a result of altered and damaged circadian rhythms.  Depression makes the day/night self timer malfunction. Isolation from live social contact proves to be as damaging to overall health as smoking or obesity.  It destroys the self monitoring abilities we learned in elementary school to survive in a social world.  Now that social order has been redefined, healthy relationships are less likely to evolve.  Human lovingkindness is essential for mental and physical health and well being.

Time spent with screens is not without merit, but if life is to be lived fully screen time has to be secondary to real human interaction.  Screen communication increases the chances of faulty assumptions on everyone’s part.  We normally present ourselves in the best light possible, keeping the shadow issues away from the public forums.  We know others must edit along the same favorable lines to give a spin on their life and times that makes them appealing.  How much noise is generated and how much valuable exchange?  The answer is never final.  It is a mix of magical electronic connections and spammy, even dangerous, invasions of privacy.  Caveat emptor, gentle reader.   The internet is what you make of it.

Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

April 8, 2013 5 Comments

Zappos core value number six describes the goal of the communication systems.  Any company has to be specific and mindful about communications within the company and with customers.  Zappos takes this seriously.  The open office design and the systems of training and benefits are conducive to better than average communication.  Since the workers are encouraged to express their personalities in decor and office fashion, at least some nonverbal design language is included in the conversation.

If all companies bothered to find out if they really communicate what they think they are saying I believe huge leaps of employee satisfaction could result.  Statistics show that most employees in the US are disengaged.  What the disengagement does is psychically disconnect the employee from the mission of the company.  Doing time in such an environment resembles jail more than it does a place of productive creativity. If the management has no clue about the reality of the workers, all possible loopholes will be used to avoid helping the company.  For the purpose of oversight as well as for the purpose of clear discussion management today needs to interact rather than hand down dictums. Employees who feel at all unhappy with their work life will take it all out on your customer.

The fun starts at the front door at Zappquarters in Henderson, NV.  Ties are cut and placed on the trophy board.  The best communication device I noticed was the way they used your toilet time to make you look at the wellness information.  Trapped in the stall you are educated about the opportunities to improve your overall health in the company wellness program.  This is a fabulous message and delivery method. The Zappsters do not miss any opportunity to deliver that happy message honestly and clearly.

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