May 5, 2007

Word of the day : YIMBY

Taking a cue from Dolores Hayden's vocabulary book on sprawl, A Field Guide to Sprawl,as well as the French word-a-day website by Kristin Espinasse, I will occasionally feature concepts related to neighborhood planning. You have probably heard of NIMBY (not in my backyard) and possibly NIABY (not in anyone's backyard) (see Wikipedia). NIABY is also the name of an organization in Vancouver that opposes "'abstinent-contingent' drug addict supportive housing throughout Vancouver's residential neighbourhoods." NIMBY is associated with neighborhoods and communities that use wealth and/or political power to stave off the siting of toxic and hazardous land uses. But less affluent communities through environmental regulations and environmental justice discourse have also employed NIMBY strategies. Several scholars note that the success of a NIMBY campaign is often bitter-sweet; the environmentally noxious use is usually sited in another community. NIMBYism in wealthy communities is also guised in the form of landscape preservation. Ghorra-Gobin (1997) argues that not only is preservation used to remove large tracts of land from the market, in conjunction with minimum lot size zoning, it deters the provision of affordable housing in privileged communities (see also Duncan and Duncan, Landscapes of Privilege). A very popular NIMBY movement was catalyzed by Saul Alinsky in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago. It was more akin to a "not in poor people's back yards." Alinksy's style of organizing - coalescing different types of people in a neighborhood by defining a common enemy - influenced subsequent neighborhood campaigns in Chicago and other cities (see Encyclopedia of Chicago). Organizers in the City of Berkeley have used, and continue to do so, NIMBY stances. But one local group, Livable Berkeley, is pursuing a different "imby." The organization has coined YIMBY or, "yes in my backyard." Although I did not find a formal definition of the term on the Livable Berkeley website, the organization uses language like encourage, promote, and support to underscore the idea that effective community planning is often proactive, not reactive.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on this post!
Sign up to receive new posts in your inbox - http://bit.ly/localeconews.