Saying YES In My Back Yard
By Crystal Surdyk
It's easy to say No, as in Not In My Back Yard. And there are efforts that merit a NIMBY response. But how about saying YES, instead, to people and groups involved in grassroots, locally-driven community development? Yes In My Back Yard. YIMBY. it's all about being proactively FOR the things that make a city stronger and better.
The YIMBY Festival was founded in 2006 by Toronto filmmaker Christina Zeidler following a sudden spike in development in the Queen Street West area.
I was among more than a dozen planners, landscape architects, architects, artists, community activists, and social innovators who ventured to Toronto in 2015 to participate in YIMBY TO and to take a two-day whirlwind tour of the city's extraordinarily diverse neighborhoods. The trip included tours of Toronto's solution to mixed income housing in Regent Park, waterfront parks, and "Greektown" or Danforth Village (The Danny ). We also made a stop at Evergreen Brickworks and even took some time to experience Toronto's vibrant nightlife, joining in the infamous Halloween festivities on Church Street.
The theme of the 2015 Toronto YIMBY festival was "Unity Our Strength," which acknowledged the geographic and socioeconomic challenges in Toronto and highlighted some of the outstanding work that people are doing to address these challenges and embrace unity. Throughout the event, attendees were invited to connect with organizations at informational displays and participate in interactive workshops led by a wide range of community groups.
This inspired Buffalo YIMBY. Not only did the organizers of Toronto's YIMBY Festival show our Buffalo group incredible hospitality, but we also learned that, despite the vast differences between our two cities, there are also many similarities.
Why not say YES (instead of No) in Buffalo, too? We're calling the inaugural Buffalo festival “BUFFALO: BLOCK BY BLOCK.” YIMBY Buffalo is a platform for people and groups involved in grassroots, locally-driven community development, a place where people who are making a difference in this community - or who want to - can gather, exchange ideas and establish the networks that will help build a better Buffalo. It’s a chance to spread the word about your work, celebrate achievements and identify new challenges and opportunities in an atmosphere focused on listening, learning and engaging.
YIMBY is bringing Block Clubs, community groups, grassroots organizations, and people like you and me under one roof - the Tri-Main Center - to get to know each other, to share success stories and challenges, and to learn more about hands-on, simple actions that can make our city better, one block at a time. It offers plenty of opportunities for tabling, presenting, brainstorming, workshops, and performances.
Buffalo YIMBY is presented by Designing to Live Sustainably, with the support of the Tri-Main Center, the Board of Block Clubs of Buffalo and Erie County, and the City of Buffalo Division of Citizen Services.
Come say Yes In My Backyard with us on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00am-4:00pm at the Tri-Main Center. Let's work together to make Buffalo even better!