What is Sustain Champlain?

Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I first heard this acryonym last Thursday in my Environmental Issues class and again at the speaker series that same night. It was coined in the 80’s by a British politician Nicholas Ridley, meaning: Not In My Back Yard. NIMBY-ism is an interesting breed of anti-advocacy. It doesn’t only have to remain in environmental policies, roads and transportation infrastructure is greatly affected by NIMBY-ism, but it has slowed down some development on projects that could really save energy and aid the planet. A conversation with a NIMBY-ist might go something like this.

Advocate: So these solar panels will be really good for the communities.
NIMBY-ist: That’s great. I’ve heard so much about them, but I’m not really sure they’re for me
Advocate: Well, why not?
NIMBY-ist: Hmm…They’re kind of eye sores. I’m not really sure I want to see them all over the neighborhood.

Okay, so that over simplified it a bit, but a lot of environmental NIMBY-ism has to deal with aesthetic appreciation. This is happening off the coast of Cape Sound, a location wind power advocates are hoping will become home to an offshore wind field. The location is good because of the strong and constant wind, but many of the town’s people aren’t too keen on the idea because they believe it will spoil their views. Apparently, the whole operation was working on an uphill battle from the beginning when the areas richest man decided it’s not what he wanted to look at in the morning when drinking coffee.

I can totally understand the importance of a good view and that many of these people move to the area for that reason. But I’m not sure how sympathetic I am. I think I’d be more so if they didn’t want them at all. It seems weird to completely support something except when you have to sacrifice. Offshore wind farms are highly popular in the UK and Denmark, and they show how technology and nature can come together. I find them to be much more beautiful and awe-inspiring than the buzzing lines of electric towers, which, ironically, are doing the same job. No one really seems to complain about those.

I’m hoping that when I get older my views on such things don’t change when money is involved, but I totally think we’ll be a more understanding generation because we’ve gone through high school and part of college with environmental issues being a hot bed of interest. I think the most important idea to take away from NIMBY-ism is the idea of how much am I willing? How much am I willing to cut back, to take the time out to do, to sacrifice? It’s not entirely realistic to give into everything and reduce yourself completely, but there will be a time when people have to start stepping up to the plate and realize we all have a stake in environmental issues.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Here's a recent article from the New York Times that goes along this thread...