Are we all NIMBYs?
NIMBY. It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot these days—especially in a city like Boston that’s experiencing so much growth—so it’s fascinating to pause and consider its real significance. Deferring to the Oxford English Dictionary for the best definition of NIMBY, an acronym for “Not in My Backyard,” the term is loaded:
“A person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in their own neighborhood, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.”
While “NIMBY” wasn’t even in the dictionary until a couple of years ago, it has taken little time to gain traction. NIMBY has a pejorative connotation, but taken at face value the concept has broader implications: being a NIMBY could mean that you don’t want a new high rise near your brownstone, but it could also mean that you worry about the implications of a new development for rents and cost of living in your area. The BRA has to navigate these perspectives and priorities on a constant basis.
The crux of the matter is that some opposition to change is valid and reasonable, but change is also a necessary byproduct of growth and the evolution of modern cities. Moreover, being a NIMBY is in itself a privilege, as it implies that you have a backyard to protect in the first place. So no, we aren’t all NIMBYs. But maybe some of us are more than we thought.
With that, some questions:
- Is there such thing as a…YIMBY (“Yes in My Backyard”)? What does that look like?
- Could the BRA do a better job of helping people deal with change?
- In a global city that’s also known for its neighborhood feel, how do we define what our backyard is anyway? Do we make decisions based on our immediate surroundings, or what we think is best for the future of Boston as a whole?
Let us know what you think by writing in the comments section below!