A group of people who routinely oppose new real estate developments and other projects that they believe will harm their local area. Acronym based on the phrase citizens against virtually everything. Also: CAVE people or CAVE dwellers.
In Columbus, Gaymon and others explained, CAVEs dominated for years. They say the no-growthers opposed and prevented Interstate 85 from passing near the city. They were content to keep the city dependent on textiles and the military. They fought bond packages and sales tax boosts for improvements. That led to trouble in River City, as Columbus calls itself. The resulting period of economic stagnation and blight along the river front and in neighborhoods finally awoke the city. The CAVEs lost clout. Community go-getters now tend to ignore them.
Jim Schlosser, "Columbus remakes its image," News & Record, September 16, 2001
County Council Chairwoman Alice Cycler handed me a copy of an editorial from a North Florida newspaper last week. It talked about CAVE dwellers, CAVE meaning Citizens Against Virtually Everything.
Bo Poertner, "Is latest criticism worthwhile talk or just worthless?," Orlando Sentinel Tribune, September 30, 1990
Today's word is mostly used in a pejorative sense, as the phrases CAVE people and CAVE dweller suggest. However, as is often the case with offensive terms, the offendees have reappropriated the word and now often speak with pride about being part of a CAVE Society or being a CAVEr.
Tracking down the earliest use for this term proved to be more frustrating than usual. Maddeningly, the closest I could get was citation above, which references an earlier editorial from some nameless "North Florida newspaper."
I asked the author of this article about the name of the mystery paper, but he couldn't remember it, so the search remains open.
Subscriber John Lehner suggests that this term may have been inspired by the Vietnam-era acronym SWINE Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything. This was coined by Al Capp of L'il Abner comic strip fame, and it still makes the occasional public appearance in print:
The Stewarts' letter reminds me of members of an organization the great cartoonist Al Capp called SWINE: Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything!
Bill Hunter, "Facts are available" (letter to the editor), Topeka Capital Journal, October 5, 2000