The term "NIMBY", an acronym for "Not in My Backyard", dates back to the 80s, and refers to residential concerns about the way land is used.
The argument can, and has, been applied almost everywhere, from fracking to skyscrapers to shopping malls. The implication is that, "it is something we support, we just don't want it here."
With all of the growth in Nashville, there's been a lot of talk about change, development, outsiders moving in, and natives being pushed around. The conversation amongst locals can be fueled with Nimbyism. Locals don't mind if Calfornian moves to Austin, they just don't want to deal with any of the consequences of them moving here.
We asked a Nashville native and a Nashville non-native to discuss why we love to hate Nashville's biggest growing pains. Though Nimbyism is not productive, it is a real word and it's silly and fun to say out loud.
Thoughts from a Born and Raised Nashvillian a.k.a "A Unicorn"
I hope more people move here from California and New York so the people who grew up here can move away.
Ok, not really, but the more Nashville shows that "No matter where you come from, this is where you are" the better for all of us.
With open arms, as unofficial ambassador to Music City USA, I welcome our the masses from other states that are overtaxed, underwatered, snowed in or smoked out. Make it through tornado season here and you're awash in friendly summer concerts, tasty Southern dining, and that sweetest nectar: Tennessee whiskey (or moonshine).
And what's the price I pay? Some time in traffic behind a few more folks that continue to put Nashville on the map as the safest city to visit? I'll take that small tax as a bearable levy to navigate while I go out to eat at better restaurants before seeing shows with better music in larger venues built for better sports teams after which I'll visit awesome bars drinking premium spirits before booking my eventual round trip to Mars from the soon-to-be-constructed Space Launch Pad on the East Bank because Nashville is up and coming, baby, thanks in large part to people from there bringing all that goodness here.
You need to let the outside in. Otherwise, the inside stays the same. And no one wants that. Especially us locals.
Thoughts from a Non-Nashvillian
I hate locals. They’re always trying to keep the things I’m trying to take. I’ve tried so hard to come to this city and tacky-fy its beloved institutions, but the locals are taking all of the fun out of parasitism with their incessant gatekeeping.
I’m kidding, of course.
Originally, I’m from Denver, but I moved to Nashville back in 2012. In just nine years, parts of this city are completely unrecognizable from when I moved here. Back then, there was no such thing as “12 South”. Noshville was a beloved local diner in the heart of Midtown. The only creamery you could walk to from Belmont was Sweet Cece's (pour one out for frozen yogurt and toppings).
With all of these changes going on, it’s hard not to feel like a native. The city is changing so rapidly, even folks who have only been here for a few years can feel like they’ve witnessed a culture shift. It’s shocking, exciting, and a little heartbreaking sometimes.
I can totally understand the frustration from our local “Unicorns” (a phrase we use affectionately for the rare few who are actually originally from here). They’re watching their home get rebuilt and redefined, for better or for worse. As the kid whose childhood bedroom still remains completely intact with dozens of Pokemon plush, I can empathize with people holding on to the past. But, all of this change comes with a lot of power.
We were reminded in 2020 that there is still room for a lot of growth in our local, national, and global communities. Growth is only possible with the diversity to bring new perspectives to the table, and the resources to enact that change. Nashville is in a lucky position. With all of these outsiders moving in, we have the diversity and the resources to re-define ourselves. "Charm" may be a victim of this process but, we’ll shake our fists together and then turn around and create new charm in new places.
The more we share the things we love, the more people we have to fight to preserve them.
My sweet Unicorns, I’ll stand with you and mourn J.J.’s Cafe. But I’d love to challenge you to wear your tenure as a badge of honor, without allowing the changes to make you bitter. We’re going to need people to feel welcomed if we want our favorite local spots to thrive.
I’ll leave y’all with this: I liked The Proclaimers before “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” was on How I Met Your Mother, but at the end of the day, I’m just glad they’re getting Spotify streams.