Watch out Nimby! You have an enemy…

November 18, 2014

In opposition to NIMBY, we observe the new phenomenon known as YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard).

We all know how the NIMBY syndrome (Not in my back yard) often makes it difficult if not impossible to carry out important investments: “That power plant is perfect, better if in another city ​​… That incinerator is useful, especially if you build it in another region … You need to move that windmill blade farther  away… ” and so on. Behind this phenomenon, there is often a lot of negativity, distrust, lack of thorough information, sometimes some hidden economic interests.

However, it seems that things are changing; in opposition to NIMBY, we observe the new phenomenon known as YIMBY. Across the world, spontaneous groups, fundraising websites, initiatives for the installation of clean energy sources are rising everywhere. Here are a few examples:

In the green communication expert Rossella Sobrero’s blog, we obtain further information.

Yes in my back yard is one of the most recent sociological phenomena, based on the aspiration, and often the need, to share problems and to find new solutions for a better city lifestyle. Although the Nimby effect is far from extinguished, more and more citizens are becoming activists in finding and providing resources to provide answers to common problems. If in the past they used to ally to prevent the construction of a dump or a nuclear power plant, today they do it to collect data, organize services and contribute to the solution of local or global problems.

In this new attitude, technology certainly plays a key role. Information and knowledge are shared through the web as well as fundraising processes. However, this collaboration is all but virtual; people host instruments of public utility (e.g. in Venice to study the high water issue, or Barcelona for measuring CO2 levels) in their properties. Alternatively, they mobilize to make streets, parks, neighborhoods more livable. There are more than 260 “social streets” in Italy.

YIMBY is certainly an obvious consequence of the sharing economy. Sharing is also surely a consequence of the crisis that has somehow brought people together in identifying common needs. People finally recognize that sharing is not about saying no, but it is actually about identifying projects that can be carried out with the rest of the community.

Spontaneous associations, neighborhoods, streets, common areas were often created to address certain issues that municipalities in financial distress were no longer able to respond. We need to reflect upon the role of local governments and institutions. If it is true that these bottom-up movements tend to replace the chronic lack of resources of governmental institutions, it is equally true that governments could change their role, not only service dispensers, but also facilitators and coordinators of this new interpretation of citizenship both in terms of ideas and projects solutions.

This article was originally published in NowHow. To read it in Italian, click here.

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