Let’s have NIMBY but with compassion, reason

OlympiaMarch 13, 2014 

NIMBY (not in my backyard) refers to opposition evoked by the thought of having neighbors that are from a different (fill in the blank with economic class, ethnicity, disability, criminal past etc.)

A term coined in the 1980s, NIMBYism is rooted in our collective fears of the unknown, people we perceive as different or simply that which we can’t control. The dark side of NIMBYism is that it promotes stereotypes, scapegoating and mass hysteria. It can lead to gentrification and discrimination against those with less social or economic power. It is the enemy of diversity.

NIMBYism is particularly prevalent in relation to providing shelter or supportive housing for the unhoused, previously incarcerated or recently released from institutions. Communication, compassion and reason are alternatives to NIMBY. What are the specific needs of community members? What are we afraid of? Would setting up an advisory board help? How about identifying a system for dealing with complaints? Can we talk about of inclusive rather than exclusive solutions?

In the end, all voices matter and the common good is best served when we honor each other’s humanity.

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