YIMBYtown 2018 Unconference

Choose Your Own Adventure!

The Votes are in! Head over to the schedule to see what you’ve chosen for the day’s conference sessions & discussions.

Are you interested in leading an exploratory discussion in a topic of your choice but do not have a formal presentation prepared? In the spirit of YIMBYtown, participate meaningfully by submitting your topic for the unconference portion of Saturday’s program.

The unconference provides opportunities for participants to explore a topic through open engagement with their peers.

It is structured to promote and support participants who may not have subject-matter expertise, want practice organizing and leading a discussion, have a burgeoning idea they want to workshop with their peers, or is a free-flowing thinker who approaches a topic dynamically.

Participants can structure an unconference session by leading an exercise, playing a game, answering a set of thoughtful questions, facilitating a dialogue or other creative methods devised to advance exploration of the topic submitted.

Co-facilitating a talk, discussion, or activity is accepted and encouraged.

Voting is open!

Voting will be from 5:30pm Friday until 9am Saturday, at which point the unconference schedule will be posted here and at the venue.

Please see below for descriptions, and find the form at the bottom of this page.

  • Envisioning a national YIMBY organization
    • Style: Discussion
    • YIMBY organizers and leaders across the country have had conversations off an on for the last few years about better coordinating local/regional efforts, securing funding and resources for on-the-ground work, as well as more support nationally around policy and legal issues as they relate to the YIMBY movement. Come hear about efforts to generate philanthropic interest in supporting YIMBY nationally and, more importantly, give input into what kinds of resources/support a national YIMBY organization can provide.
  • Communicating to be heard by NIMBYs
    • Style: Discussion
    • It’s not enough to be correct. To be effective, you also need to be heard. How do you make that happen? This session will share experiences in communicating to be heard, to effectively galvanize community support for housing in a NIMBY-dominated environment.
  • Where are the new houses being built?
    • Style: Talk
    • Where are the new houses being built? In a current project, I’m measuring housing growth across the U.S. at the census tract level, and categorizing tracts by demand growth and baseline density. I then characterize metro areas and cities by their accommodation of urban, suburban, and exurban growth relative to national trends at the same levels of density and demand. This approach helps distinguish areas that have growth-friendly (and unfriendly) institutions from those that merely have high (low) demand growth or high (low) land availability.

      Activists can use my data, which is freely available upon request, to document hostility to infill growth, to correlate it to other geographic characteristics, and to focus efforts.
      Screen reader support enabled.

  • Nesterly Homeshare Pilot with the City of Boston
    • Style: Talk
    • When the City of Boston held listening sessions across the city for the Age-Friendly Boston initiative, older adults told us one of their top priorities was to be able to age in their homes and communities. Some of the challenges to doing this can be challenge of daily tasks, social isolation and financial burden. At the same time, Boston has thousands of college students who often need affordable housing and are interested in living in a non-traditional setting. In September of 2017 the Elderly Commission and the Housing Innovation Lab partnered with Nesterly to match 8 students and hosts over the course of six months to a year. The pilot has ended, but the city is broadly supporting the concept of Homeshare as a way to help older adults remain in their homes, alleviate social isolation, reduce pressure on the existing housing stock and reduce student debt.
  • Reflection & discussion of what it takes to create YIMBYtown Panel
    • Style: Discussion
    • “Panel/Q&A/What We Learned discussion on planning YIMBYtown with Cool Mayor Jesse and I (last year’s mayor).

      Largely a discussion on what works, what doesn’t, what obstacles we ran into and how we handled them. I’m aiming for something that is half cathartic and half inspiring/hopeful to other YIMBY organizers and next year’s mayor.”

  • Left YIMBY Roundtable
    • Style: Discussion
    • Housing is a human right, and as such we on the left seek to decommodify it. What is the leftist yimby perspective? What efforts are we leading in terms of pushing the left towards yimby, and pushing yimby towards the left? A continuation of last year’s roundtable. Group discussion circle; any and all are invited regardless of where your political affiliations lie.
  • YIMBY Aesthetics – How to promote urbanism and density through arts and design.
    • Style: Discussion
    • A lot of the arguments from NIMBYism are often done on aesthetic grounds, which I think the YIMBY movement could do a better job addressing in a more direct manner. I’m currently running a project valled YIMBY Arts and could use input and ideas in regards to how to more effectively message pro-YIMBY ideas outside of the written word.
  • Preservationists as allies?
    • Style: Discussion
    • Let’s discuss how historic preservation can revive a urban communities, making allies instead of enemies in historic neighborhoods.
  • Funding YIMBY Organizing
    • Style Discussion
    • Organizing on behalf of YIMBY principles takes time and money. How can we find funding sources to support our advocacy with staff and resources.
  • Making the Green Connection
    • Style: Discussion
    • Sharing information and ideas on building common ground b/w housing & environmental activists. Do coalitions w/environmentalists matter? Where are they happening? How do we overcome barriers to collaboration?
  • Is YIMBY the wrong word for me? Let’s discuss.
    • Style: Discussion
    • Are you feeling at home here in terms of ideas, but struggle with the word YIMBY? Are you here because you LOVE the word YIMBY? Join us for a discussion about how you self-identify in this work, and why it matters.
  • Organizer: The free CRM for your YIMBY org
    • Style: Talk
    • East Bay for Everyone has nearly 1,300 members across 30 cities after only three years. How do we find and activate our membership in the suburbs, keep track of who can vote, and decentralize our organizing while empowering people to organize their own neighborhoods? We wrote our own CRM and want to share it with you.
  • Intergenerational (un)fairness
    • Style: Discussion
    • A discussion into how the housing crisis has contributed to intergenerational inequality, and whether it’s useful to dwell on this at the risk of pitting generations against each other.
  • Yes In My Backyard Unless It’s a Freeway
    • Style: Talk
    • Ruminations of being a true-blood YIMBY abundant housing advocate who is waging a grassroots campaign to sue the state of Oregon to stop a half billion dollar freeway expansion that – get this – is planned in the literal backyard of a minority-majority middle school in North Portland. Presentation covers the juxtaposition of using NIMBY framework for progressive/equitable causes, rethinking the role of the automobile in urban american society, the semiotics of communicating new mobility values, and discussing how retiring the urban freeway industrial complex must be a central plank of any yimby platform. Also, i have buttons to share.
  • #RE2020: What will real estate ecosystem look like in year 2020?
    • Style: Activity
    • INTERACTIVE EXERCISE: Let’s use MIT’s #uLab to identify what ending, what’s presenting as a problem or opportunity, and what’s emerging in the future of housing, real estate & smart cities. Participants will be invited to:

      (1) Select from 20 trends and add their own to a wall-mounted, U-shaped image of the real estate ecosystem; and

      (2) continue this exercise by enrolling in MIT’s FREE uLab course and meeting online or off with a “”coaching circle”” of peers who will help you envision & test your ideas.


      See selected tweets from RE2020 coaching circle, uLab 2017:


  • Getting a YIMBY group started
    • Style: Discussion
    • Members of ABC, ABC PAC and SF YIMBY lead a discussion on how they got their neighborhood advocacy groups off the ground. What worked and what didn’t.
  • YIMBY your Sierra Club
    • Style: Discussion
    • How anti-sprawl YIMBYs can work with, instead of against, local environmental activists
  • YIMBY as political movement
    • Style: Discussion
    • Electoral politics – who votes and why, for whom and on which issues – needs to be made a more central focus of the YIMBY movement. Many YIMBY groups do take this on, but many others lack the capacity or knowledge of how the system really works and so tend to stick within the 4 corners of the development process while other powerful actors within the political system control who gets elected and whom they need to thank for holding office. This session would focus on developing a movement-wide strategy on increasing YIMBY influence over the political system.
  • #UUtopia: Envisioning CoLiving communities for yourself & your tribe
    • Style: Activity
    • “Invite everyone who attended Friday’s session on CoLiving to continue the discussion by:

      1. Cocreating a typology of shared housing types;

      2. Envisioning their ideal CoLiving community (#UUtopia) as a two-part concept drawing showing their

      2.1 Ideal space / lifestyle for themselves;
      2.2 Ideal community space / shared values / lifestyle for their tribe.

      3. Using a “”CoLiving Manifesto”” to translating their vision into a CoLiving Manifesto and connect with others to make it happen.

  • Community leader
    • Style: Discussion
    • How can we use the funds from marijuana sales to help homeownership opportunities. Why are we depending on the government to help with cbg funds? The government have cut the supply by half but acting like they really want to help.
  • Getting your YIMBY group started
    • Style: Talk
    • Members of ABC PAC, ABC, YIMBY SF and YIMBY Democrats of SF
  • Tools for organizing grassroots YIMBY groups
    • Style: Discussion
    • Learn about the tools YIMBY Action groups (centered around San Francisco) use for grassroots organizing and share the tools that have worked for you.
  • Messaging workshop: Winning hearts and minds
    • Style: Activity
    • “New development will just bring in rich people and foreign investors!”
      “New development will destroy the neighborhood!”

      Our biggest challenge is changing people’s minds on these two points. Do you want to practice different ways of convincing people? Do you want to share a particular framing that has worked well? Come try your hand at selling housing in different ways, empathize, and take turns playing both sides.

  • Against the Machine
    • Style: Talk
    • Regulations on development can be well-meaning, but can backfire: they discourage small developers more than well-connected big developers, and can exacerbate the shortage of affordable and abundant housing. How can smart regulations encourage “missing middle housing” rather than megaprojects?
  • Development finance 101: how a bit of money goes a long way
    • Style: Activity
    • Where does the money for new development come from? A look at several professional case studies shows where developers get money, and the key leverage points where advocates can have the greatest impact, especially with new funds.
  • One Charlestown Communications Consultant
    • Style: Discussion
    • One Charlestown will redevelop 1000 public housing units and add 1700 market rate, I am involved in the communications about the project, ask me your questions and give me your ideas for getting this past the NIMBYs.
  • How can we organize to create a YIMBY handbook or toolkit for YIMBY groups?
    • Style: Discussion
  • affordable housing development in high cost cities
    • Style: Discussion 
    • issues and opportunities for affordable housing development in high cost urban areas
  • Northern New England YIMBY
    • Style: Discussion
    • Addressing efforts and opportunities in Northern New England (VT, NH, ME)
  • Sources of Truth in Housing Politics: Navigating Between Data and Community Experience
    • Style: Discussion
    • Community members often claim the truth and the right to make decisions based on their lived experience in their neighborhoods (you’ve noticed this if you’ve ever been at a community meeting where someone introduced themselves by how long they lived there). YIMBY activists often base decisions on data and economic expertise, arguing that their decisions will turn out right in the long term even if community members don’t ‘get it’ right now (you’ve noticed this if anyone’s ever brought a supply-side argument to oppose people worried about shadows). Because we live in a democracy and not a technocracy, in order to win YIMBYs have to engage with (and sometimes defeat) decisions based on the community experience of others. And the data itself can be contradictory or incomplete, which gives ammo to opponents. How do we navigate these sources of truth to win in the politics of housing? An open discussion.
  • Is inclusionary zoning poisoning the affordable housing discussion?
    • Style: Discussion
  • In this together: Building alliances between the middle class and low-income communities
    • Style: Discussion
    • How to bring the poor and middle class together to fight for affordable housing for both
  • Online tools to engage YIMBYs
    • Style: Discussion
    • An exploration of the various online tools that can be used to mobilise YIMBYs to support planning applications. (E.g. social media/mapping tools/automatic application alerts)
  • Two Gatherings, Two Visions for fixing our Housing Crisis
    • Style: Discussion
    • YIMBY & other housing advocacy movements: how do we work together, and where do we differ? And, should it matter? Jumping off from today’s Boston Globe article on the two housing convenings in Boston this weekend, we will discuss effective ways to make our missions clear, and support one another’s goals.
  • Sharing Best Practices – Collaborative YIMBY Handbook
    • Style: Discussion
    • Workshopping the beginnings of a “How to Organize” “How to become Politically Relevant” “How to not make these mistakes we made” “How to YIMBY” toolkit.