Noblet, McGreavy interviewed for BDN article about ‘NIMBY’ phrase

University of Maine faculty members Caroline Noblet, an assistant professor in the School of Economics, and Bridie McGreavy, an assistant professor of environmental communication, were interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about the use of the phrase “Not in my backyard,” or “NIMBY.” The concept is a focus in localized debates in Greater Belfast over development proposals, when residents oppose projects for a variety of reasons that can lead back to the common idea of not wanting the area to change, according to the article. But not everyone agrees the term correctly characterizes these disagreements. “I know it’s a term that people are familiar with,” said Noblet. “I think people are making choices not just about themselves, but also their community, and sometimes with NIMBYism, it understates that complexity.” Noblet prefers the term “sense of place” instead. “[People worry] if my place is changing, does that change me? People are afraid of change, research has shown. It’s the devil you know, versus the devil you don’t know,” she said. McGreavy told the BDN that people’s opinions of development are related to the proposal process — whether conversations took place that were inclusive, fair and considered how people view their communities. And a power imbalance between those proposing the development and those living in the community can amplify feelings of frustration, the article states. “I think people will think that dissenters want to determine the outcome,” McGreavy said. “That can be the case. But oftentimes they want to see how their comments were incorporated, evaluated, and have some kind of influence on the decision. It speaks to transparency in the process.” To facilitate this, she said respected people in the community who are open to hearing different perspectives could serve as ambassadors to those who are more polarized. “You start with listening and move forward to brainstorming. What might be possible here,” said McGreavy. “Otherwise, you get stuck in these feedback loops, where everybody feels like they’re spinning their wheels and saying the same thing over and over again. The conflict just gets more entrenched.”