“These events are opportunities for everyday people interested in these subjects to bump elbows with people who are doing this work nationally.”
— Aaron Brown, organizer
At first blush, someone might not think housing and bicycling have much of a relationship. Indeed, that’s often how these two issues are framed – as separate realms within urban planning that can operate relatively independently. But they absolutely cannot!
The only way we achieve our adopted goal of 25% of trips by bike by 2030 is with a massive shift in housing policies and projects.
At next week’s YIMBYtown (YIMBY stands for ‘yes in my backyard,’ the inverse of NIMBY or ‘not in my backyard’) conference, organizers hope to further connect these issues and is billed as a, “catalyst for unifying housing organizers, funders, builders and thought leaders on a national scale.”
The conference has been held three times in the past, with the first taking place in Boulder, Colorado in 2016. The Portland YIMBYtown has been a long time in the making, having been pushed back from 2020 due to the pandemic. Finally, YIMBY activists from across the country will convene right here in Portland next week: the first time in almost four years for people passionate about this work to meet in real life and share ideas.
This conference, which is being co-sponsored by the Sightline Institute and pro-housing group Portland: Neighbors Welcome, will feature a diverse range of local and national experts and activists. Speakers hailing from Portland include transportation consultant Jarrett Walker, youth anti-freeway climate activist Adah Crandall, urban economist Joe Cortright, former BikePortland News Editor Michael Andersen (now with Sightline), and others. National speakers include Saint Paul City Councilor Mitra Jalali, Emeryville Mayor John Bauters and Jesse Piedfort, director of Sierra Club’s Washington State Chapter.
But wait, there’s more! BikePortland’s special correspondent Ryan Packer will moderate a panel on fighting the freeway industrial complex.
Aaron Brown, a Portland transportation and housing advocate who’s co-organizing YIMBYtown 2022, says this year’s conference will feature transportation-related issues more prominently in years past. Brown wears many hats, as the co-founder of No More Freeways PDX who’s also on the board of Portland: Neighbors Welcome, and says he’s excited about the opportunity to further discussion between transportation and housing advocates.
With panels on what fighting freeways means for the movement for abundant housing, reconnecting communities divided by highways and parking reform, there looks to be plenty to satiate transportation activists while hopefully encouraging new ways of thinking.
Although it’s no secret that Portland’s transportation and housing advocates have plenty of gripes with this city, Brown says he’s excited for the chance to show off the great things we do have going for us to advocates from across the country.
“It’s a special time to show off some of Portland’s best advocates,” he said, mentioning groundbreaking zoning legislature like Oregon House Bill 2001 and Portland’s Residential Infill Project that local activists worked to see through.
The Youth vs ODOT freeway protesters are another bunch of Portland activists who stand out nationally.
For people who don’t want to splurge on a ticket for the whole three-day conference, there will be two standalone events you can purchase tickets to: a “housing story slam” at 7:30 pm on Monday, April 11, and a finale event on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 pm. Brown says some YIMBYtown presenters will speak at the Youth vs ODOT rally on April 13 (we’ll update with location details for this event when they’re available).
“These events are opportunities for everyday people interested in these subjects to bump elbows with people who are doing this work nationally,” Brown says.
You can read the full schedule here to check out which of the other conversations you might be interested in participating in and buy tickets to the conference. You can also sign up for a volunteer shift, which will earn you a free ticket to the conference.
Stay tuned for more YIMBYtown coverage, and let us know if there are any topics or panels you’d particularly like to see us report on.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at email@example.com