The Coast News Group

Northbound: My ‘nextdoor’ neighbors

I recently hosted a luau at my house, with some help from some neighbors I’ve never met before.

In focus is “Nextdoor,” a free social networking site that privately connects residents together, typically for traditional neighborhood-centric reasons. Have a lost dog or cat? This site is a great way to get the word out to the community. Have a garage sale this weekend, or need items taken away from your curb for free? Nextdoor is a great outlet for that too.

Some North County cities, including my city of Carlsbad, actively engage residents via Nextdoor to promote community events and advertise important city hearings and town halls.

But back to my party. For the Fourth of July, I hosted a small party at my house for about a dozen friends, and I wanted it luau-themed, which I’ve never done before. As my avid readers know, I’m a budget-conscious guy. How do you host a party without breaking the bank? Borrow stuff from people who have what you need.

I put out an APB on Nextdoor for luau-themed items, offering to trade for some of the Polynesian and Hawaiian food dishes we were going to make. Three neighbors in Oceanside and Carlsbad came to my rescue, with games, luau decorations — even banana leaves for our Kalua pork recipe. It was a great way to make some new friends, and get to know what makes North County so special — the people who live here.

Perhaps at a different time, in a different economy, more of us would have time to casually interact with each other on the sidewalk while retrieving mail, or at the grocery store, or any number of common places in the neighborhood. However, so many of us in North County are constantly working, through our evenings and weekend, wired to our mobile devices and the World Wide Web. Nextdoor, in some respects, bridges that gap of human interaction and communication that would otherwise come freely and organically, and perhaps still does in pockets in our part of the region.

My experience begs the question, what constitutes neighborliness in the 21st Century? I don’t begrudge my neighbors who are eager for private time with their loved ones; savor all the time you can get with those who matter most to you in your life. Still, there are lots of folks on my street that have moved in the last two years that I’ve never met.

Maybe I should host a block party next? Sounds like the subject of a future column. Stay tuned!

For more information on Nextdoor, visit

Vince Vasquez is an economist based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.