Recently, 20 or so of my neighbors and I attended a zoning hearing. Someone wishes to waive the city zoning standards for a project in our neighborhood.
People were engaged, civil, offered their evidence. It’s all fine and good until one guy starts reading a lengthy dissertation from his smart phone. “This was a good project, etc., important for the growth and development of Old Town where he also ‘lives’ by his account, etc., and sells property, etc., etc.” Then, he used the word … “NIMBY.” From the lull of “‘blah, blah, blah,” all of a sudden my ears perk up and I’m offended.
It’s bad enough that a previous gentleman had implied that 100-plus of the neighbors who had signed a petition were lumped into the “your friends will sign anything” category. How dare he call us “NIMBYs.” For those of us who are acronym challenged, NIMBY usually stands for “not in my backyard.”
Then, I started thinking about it. Why should someone imply that exercising our freedom, expressing our opinions, supporting our neighbors is somehow a bad thing? Here we are, citizens engaged in our neighborhood, paying attention to what goes on around us, wanting to have input into changes that affect us, slightly skeptical of the government’s agenda, cynical about a “non-neighbor’s” motives. If we don’t care about our “backyard,” who else will?
I don’t expect someone from south Fort Collins to be the least bit interested in our neighborhood. Someone who doesn’t live in our neighborhood doesn’t have the credibility that my neighbor does, whether we share the same opinion or not. We are the ones who drive through “that intersection” a thousand times, try to park on “that street” every day for the past umpteen years, shovel “those walks” when others can’t or won’t. We live here; we share the same aggravations and appreciation for where we live, we are “neighbors.”
In the climate of today, the civil discourse ends as soon as the labeling and name-calling begins. It is the modus operandi of the “win at all cost” society in which we find ourselves. To me NIMBY should mean my “neighborhood is my backyard.” Being a NIMBY says I have a neighborhood I care about, neighbors with whom I share common ground, a vested interest in my community. I’m proud of it.
Karyl Ting lives in Fort Collins.
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