Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Pg. 99: Brian Balogh's "Not in My Backyard"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Not in My Backyard: How Citizen Activists Nationalized Local Politics in the Fight to Save Green Springs by Brian Balogh.

About the book, from the publisher:
How a woman-led citizens’ group beat a Southern political machine by enlisting federal bureaucrats and judges to protect their neighborhood from unchecked economic development

This social history of local political activism tells the story of the decades-long fight to save Green Springs, Virginia, illuminating the economic tradeoffs of protecting the environment, the origins of NIMBYism, the changing nature of local control, and the surprising power of history to advance public policy.

Rae Ely faced long odds when she launched a campaign in 1970 to stop a prison, then a strip mine, in Green Springs. The local political machine supported both projects, promising jobs for impoverished Louisa County, Virginia. But Ely and her allies prevailed by repurposing the same tactics used by the Civil Rights movement—the appeal to federal agencies and courts to circumvent local control—and by using new historical interpretations to create the first rural National Historic Landmark District.

The Green Springs protesters fought to preserve the historic character of their neighborhood and the surrounding environment in a quest that epitomized the conflict in late twentieth-century America between unbridled economic development for all and protecting the quality of life for an economically privileged few. Ely’s tactics are now used by neighborhood groups across the nation, even if they have been applied in ways she never intended: to resist any form of development.
Learn more about Not in My Backyard at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Not in My Backyard.

--Marshal Zeringue