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Let's hear it for the NIMBYs!

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Many of us are reluctant to be characterized as NIMBYs when we object to projects in our "backyards" such as event center wineries or vineyard incursions into our hillsides and watersheds. Such a designation often implies a narcissism.

The American Dictionary defines NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) as "a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous waste facility, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere." Many definitions include that this objection is to a project that is also for the common good.

We protect what we love. Many of us, and maybe most, love this valley we call home. A project next door that we perceive as harmful in some way to us or to our environment sparks this love. Often our individual situations reflect much larger issues in our county, in our country and in our world. It wakens us to the way things may be out of balance, and in the case of land use issues in our valley, to the ignorance that would further degrade our hillsides and watersheds, our air and community fabric, whether that ignorance be our own or of those ambitions that seek profit, regardless of impact.

These projects often pushed by developers and financial interests can rarely be called "in service of the common good."

Thank goodness for NIMBYs! But our love of homeland and our life here — our sense of place — must extend to a larger vision of where we are going. Vision 2050 is a growing movement in Napa County in which a dozen-plus local citizen groups are gathering out of love of this land and our lives here. We are in serious need of changes in our policies around the environment and water, climate action, and economic pressures that have defined our commerce without substantive regard of those who implement it: our farm and hospitality workers.

This is a movement that needs all of us -- residents, growers, wineries, laborers and local governing officials -- to join in truly acting for the common good.

Patricia Damery




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