A conversation with Tony Romano of the Right to the City Alliance

The Next System Project: Can you tell us a little bit about the Right to The City Alliance?

Tony Romano:  Right to the City is a national alliance of organizations rooted in communities of color and working class communities.  Prior to Right to the City forming, many of the community groups for years reached out to each other for support, mentorship and study.  We were all trying hard to build resident led organizations  to combat an onslaught of gentrification and mass displacement. Together, we sought to win community control and achieve development without displacement.  As we began our work, we reached out to community groups challenging powerful entities in California, Miami, and Virginia, including Tenant Workers United with the hopes to learn from them, share ideas, connect, and find ways to support each other’s work. At the time, I was at the Miami Workers Center.

As our relationships and work deepened, we felt to the need be more deliberate, strategic, and explicitly linked. So, we formalized as Right to the City, officially “coming out” at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia.  At the time, we were 25 resident led organizations in 10 cities.

We felt “Right to the City” was needed as an organization and important to encapsulate in our name because it captured an ideology that our groups deeply believed in and represented the ultimate goal of our fight – a true right to the city for the everyone who inhabitants that city or town including a right to shape and design a city [through policy] and a right to access everything needed to thrive and reach your full potential whether it be housing, land, healthcare, art, dance, music, nature  etc.  While our various groups may work on particular issues  such as immigration rights or criminal justice, we understand that each of our fights are all part of a larger struggle for winning a right to the city. We also share a common theory of change: we believe that transformative change happens from the bottom up, through movements that are made up of lots of people and different forms  of organizations.  Further, we see importance in these movements becoming powerful enough to actually force the classes in power to do what they do not want to do and to create changes that serve our interests.

Read the full article at The Next System Project


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