Election day is tomorrow. Here in Traverse City, it’s pretty much a local affair, and if the stats that Gary Howe lists in Occupy This! Local Politics Need a Jolt of YIMBYism are any guide, voters will likely honor their amazing opportunity to shape their community by staying far away from the polls. Gary suggests that to counter the dominant “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) mentality, we need a younger YIMBY (Yes-in-my-backyard) electorate that is engaged in the most basic aspect of community democracy – voting. He highlights a telling stat:
The under 40 crowd represent 42% of the potential voters and only 6% of the 40 and under crowd cast a vote in 2009.
That’s an absolutely ridiculous state of affairs that simply must change if we are to work our way out of the dark corners of climate change and vanished prosperity we find ourselves in globally, and also the challenges of re-designing our communities to meet the needs of the modern world locally. He explains that the under 40 bloc is critical because:
The under forty crowd is more enthused about collaboration over competition. They don’t start with “no” or by asking “how much?”. Instead, they are wired to find amicable solutions that make our community more inclusive and connected. The mantra is, “yes! Great idea, how do we make it better? Wouldn’t this be a great addition?” We trend towards the YIMBY. We need a touch of NIMBYism to balance that, but the current climate is out of balance.
In organizations/communities where negativity, or worse, indifference, is strongly perceived, YIMBYs lose enthusiasm and retreat. The otherwise neutral activity of politics is then tarnished and becomes something to avoid. Saved for a time, or age, when we simply want to protect something. The younger demographics, seeking a positive experience, are thus more prone to becoming disillusioned and disengaged. This is unfortunate because politics isn’t bad– bad politics is bad. And, it can be changed with numbers.
Here is a civic lesson: when you don’t like how something is proceeding, increase your numbers.
…I’m a YIMBY and I vote. I will vote next Tuesday for the most immediate representation I have– City Commissioners. Please, do the same regardless of your age, but particularly if you are under forty in human years, dog years or simply in heart and mind. As a friend likes to respond to questions of age and voting, “I believe not enough people vote within any age bracket.” I appreciate her optimism that, “more people voting can only help the good guys.”