Last month, Seattle mom, homeowner, and urbanist Sara Maxana gave a keynote address at the first national YIMBY conference, held in Boulder, Colorado. That’s “Yes In My Back Yard,” an invitation to build more homes—of more types and sizes and affordability levels—so that our cities can remain places of opportunity for many, rather than enclaves of privilege for a lucky few.
I don’t think any of us are fighting for more housing because the data say so. We are doing it because we are passionate about a better future.Sara Maxana
Sara reminds us that the growth we are seeing in our cities is not some faceless enemy to fear and fence off from our communities. That growth is people, with individual stories of love or school or work or hopes for their children—stories long-time residents may understand or share themselves—that led them to find new homes here. One story she told stood out to me especially:
My daughter is ten years old, in the fourth grade, and halfway through this past school year, she found out there was going to be a new girl in her class, a family that was moving to Seattle from Texas, and she talked about her for two weeks in anticipation. What was this girl going to be like? Would they have things in common? Would she play with us at recess? And this new child arrived, and my daughter and her group of friends welcomed her. So when is it, exactly, that we lose that sense of wonder about new people? When do we decide to stop sharing? Is it when we grow up? Is it when we buy a house? When does the convenient parking spot in front of our home become more important than the opportunity to make a new friend?
I’m tempted to quote more of her talk, but it’s worth watching in full. Sara describes the shortage in Seattle, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, and how we can leverage our cities’ growth and success to both preserve and advance opportunities for the many people who call these places home.