WIMBY: Welcome in My Backyard

WIMBY: Welcome in My BackyardTwo words I believe are very dangerous together, though benign alone: Us. Them.

Uttered in singularity, neither word brings much to mind except perhaps a grade school spelling test or two. Uttered together in virtually any context, and the speaker has just created a dichotomy that truly does not have to exist.

Yet we do this. We speak like this daily.

“Why are they so much different than us?” “Why are they taking what belongs to us”?

And when we consider our neighborhoods, our villages and cities, we pit “us” vs. “them,” and we create the phenomenon called NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard.

Let’s be honest. When we say “Why do they have to live here with us?” that is exactly what we are saying.  We are saying that “they” don’t belong. But we do. Do we stop and think what gives us the right to make this determination? Do we stop to consider who has helped each of us along the way? Do we consider that at any moment “us” can become “them”? In fact, each of one of us is a “they” to someone else.

No. We don’t consider those questions. We move forward. We close our eyes to our neighbors who have come on hard times. We close our eyes as we walk in Kingston, focusing on the new shiny renovated spaces, the blue sky, the historic district. We close our eyes to our community. We miss the beauty that can be found in need. We miss the opportunity to be more than ourselves.

We, as individual members of our community, cannot do many things on our own. We cannot individually make the opioid drug epidemic go away. We can’t stop people from developing terminal illnesses. We cannot individually hide on our porches, behind our picture windows, behind our fear hoping that someday we will go for a walk in Kingston and all of the people who make us uncomfortable — just because they are them and not us — have been cared for by someone else because we don’t want to do it.

But, a community that decides to do right by everyone who is a member of that community, can collectively do anything.

It starts with admitting to ourselves that we all know right from wrong. We were all taught this at some point. And, even if we weren’t, we know right from wrong because we are human.

We share this community, but we do not get to choose who our community members are. Learn about the community, love the community, enjoy your neighborhoods, parks and restaurants.

But never forget that this community is our community, collectively. Beautiful, ugly, new, old, rich, poor, homeowners and homeless. No matter how hard we try to separate “us” from “them,” it is impossible because it is not reality, nor should it be.

I offer WIMBY. Welcome In My Back Yard. Let’s change the conversation. Let’s open ourselves up to the opportunities that come when we avail ourselves to them.

Let’s be WE.

And most of all, let us do what is right.

Eliza Bozenski, RUPCO Advisory CouncilEliza Bozenski is a member of RUPCO’s Advisory Council since 2017. She also works as Director of Anderson Foundation for Autism, and has been with that organization since 2006.

Ulster County Community Forum on Homelessness

Ulster County Continuum of Care logoWHO:  Ulster County Continuum of Care (UCCofC)
WHAT:  UCCofC Community Forum on Homelessness
WHERE:  The Kirkland, 2 Main Street, Kingston 12401

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 25, 1-3 p.m.
WHY:  To inform a plan that will guide the work of UCCofC to reduce homelessness in our community. Open invitation to stakeholders and service providers who assist ,or whose work is impacted by, this population in need

RSVP BY:  Friday, October 21 (if possible)
CONTACT:  Kathy Germain, kgermain@rupco.org (845) 331-2140 ext. 220

As providers who either work directly with this population, or who are affected by issues that surround homelessness such as mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence, we are asking for your participation and input as we develop a local community plan to help reduce and end homelessness.
Please attend the Ulster County Continuum of Care’s (CoC) Community Forum on Homelessness. The goal of this forum is to inform a plan that will guide the work of the CoC to reduce homelessness in our community.
The Continuum of Care Community Forum on Homelessness will be held
Tuesday October 25th from 1-3:00 pm
at the Kirkland, 2 Main Street Kingston
The Ulster County Continuum of Care (CoC) is comprised of service providers to the homeless, local government representatives, faith-based organizations, and individuals. The CoC is the planning group responsible for identifying homelessness needs and accessing resources in the amount of $1.2 million annually to support agencies that provide housing and services to homeless individuals and families in Ulster County.
Please RSVP to Kathy Germain at RUPCO kgermain@rupco.org or call 845-331-9860 ext. 220 by October 21st.
This forum is open to the public; please share this invitation with others.