YIMBY What?

I’ve written before about the so-called NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) (see my blog entry, Wealth Inequality). Recently I read an article on the website of the Sierra Club discussing the people referred to as YIMBYs (Yes In My Backyard). “Pro-Housing Urban Millennials Say "Yes In My Backyard" offers a different take on the NIMBYs: how they organize in neighborhoods or lobbying groups to stop or slow down projects of any size that require discretionary approvals. YIMBYs are the complete opposite.

 Instead of taking the position--as wealthier people may tend to do—that basically says, “I got mine, you can’t have yours,” YIMBYs are focused on improving the future. They work together on paving a path to true sustainability that considers the next seven generations. Property values also increase as density goes up. The downside is the gentrification of neighborhoods. They do this by engaging in general planning by neighborhood and, in so doing, work together as neighbors instead of against each other.

 Like YIMBYs, I look at the long run. I believe we are supposed to honor our planet and all it provides us. Although I’m not the type of person who would choose to live in a high-density area, I know that in an urban environment, density is appropriate. It works in synergy with mass transportation and utility systems, provides proximity to businesses, services and like-minded friends and saves travel time. Densely populated cities can still maintain open areas and preserve expansive views, creating a positive mix for residents. There are cities like this all over the world. Take the Greek island of Santorini, home to the high-density village of Hillside. The homes and businesses are built right up to the waterfront and up the hills, while the best areas on the island are open for farming. Each part of the overall space is put to its best use, resulting in optimal functionality.

 Urban areas need to be efficient and functional for everyone, and that includes housing. Rather than allow a work force to be pushed out of their city of employment, affordable housing needs to be integrated within that urban area. Suburbs need to be tied to the city: They expand into each other and adopt the same requirements so that the suburb becomes part of the city. Integration and density are the natural course, and we know that we cannot fight against nature over the long haul. Our weather patterns prove that.  

 As our policies and way of life continue to affect our environment, we have no choice but to adapt to the consequences. Look at the worsening scourge of homelessness, then look at housing prices. Things are out of sync. Let’s work to balance our living patterns and integrate our decisions with the earth’s patterns. We have all of the sources of information needed to do it.

 Just because we have a dream, that does not give us a pass to infringe on our fellow humans’ rights to pursue decent lives.  The strongest, luckiest and prettiest of us do not have the right to  block the needs of a society or community that is changing and growing. On the contrary, it’s incumbent on the fortunate to apply the rewards we enjoy in life to our communities. The greed inherent in “I got mine, you can’t have yours” is does not reflect a successful life.

 So don’t hold back the transformation of the city and the community in which you choose to live. This way, one day you will look back on your choices and know that you lived your life as a part of society and not apart from it, that you brought others up with you and you did so while thinking of future generations. Be a YIMBY.

 Peace to all. Let’s all live lighter and play fair as we move toward the future.