Local service connects neighbors

Staff Writer

Hyde Park’s neighbors are about to get a little friendlier.

Good Neighbors, a popular Google Group that started for the residents of a few blocks around 55th Street and Kimbark Avenue in 2006, has been opened to all residents of Hyde Park.

“It was supposed to be a neighborhood thing,” said Jay Mulberry, who founded the listserv. “It was supposed to be among people who have very close connections to each other. Not that they know each other – they have common interests, they see common things every day. The prices at the Co-Op or whatever.”

Over the years nearby residents who didn’t live within the boundaries would request to enter the group, which allows neighbors to send e-mails to each other concerning day-to-day neighborhood activities.

“They’re mostly very simple things like ‘Where can I get my dog washed? Where can I get somebody to shovel snow off my street? Where do I go to get rid of my electronic computer parts to have them recycled properly?’ Almost all of them are very un-complex, un-threatening to other people kind of stuff,” Mulberry said.

Currently about 250 residents are in the Google Group. Mulberry said about 2,000 messages are sent each year. Occasionally people will drop out of the group if they don’t like the number of messages in their inboxes.

Mulberry said he isn’t likely to transition Good Neighbors to another social medium, like Facebook, that may make it easier to manage a large number of people.

“People can use the delete button just as well as I can,” Mulberry said. “This is a change in policy that’s being written in stone, because I announced it, but it’s a policy that effectively changed years ago. I had more of a concept of a cozy little group. I eventually stopped fighting it.”