"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Levitt Foundation

Location: Nationwide

Website: levitt.org

The Levitt program is transformative. Abandoned, blighted places—whether a neglected and gang-infested park, a dormant downtown, a vacant lot or a toxic brownfield—are today vibrant, welcoming destinations where families, friends and people of all ages and backgrounds gather to discover new worlds, and each other, through free, live music.

Levitt’s free concerts, easily accessible locations and open lawn settings foster social interactions among people of all ages and backgrounds—strengthening the social fabric of our cities. There’s no front row, no back row, just a grassy open lawn filled with friends dancing, children playing and neighbors picnicking. Levitt venues are places where people relax and enjoy the company of others. Where we embrace our shared humanity.

At Levitt, we believe the arts aren’t a luxury, but a basic human need, just as essential as food and shelter. Studies show that frequent engagement with the arts has remarkably positive effects on our individual well-being, as well as society as a whole. However, the average American’s ability to access the arts is dwindling. High premiums are placed on cultural activities like going to a museum or experiencing a live concert.

Levitt concerts feature first-rate, critically acclaimed artists free of charge. This enables people from all walks of life—many of whom could not afford the cost of a concert for themselves or their families—to have those meaningful cultural experiences essential to a healthy, happy life. Both permanent Levitt venues and the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards are community-driven, inspiring engaged citizens and civic leadership to come together and commit to creating a meaningful impact in their city. Once a Levitt location opens, people from throughout the community are invested in the success of the concert series—from concertgoers and volunteers to community partners and local sponsors. At the helm is a local nonprofit, either Friends of Levitt for signature Levitt venues or the local organization presenting Levitt AMP, mobilizing support for the concert series and driving community engagement.

Why We Matter:

Through both permanent Levitt venues and the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards, Levitt harnesses the power of free, live music to strengthen American community life one city, and one concert, at a time. The impact of the Levitt program goes beyond the free concerts. Levitt demonstrates the power of creative placemaking—the integration of arts and culture into communities to spark economic growth, strengthen social bonds and enhance overall quality of life. Below are just some of the ways the Levitt program impacts communities:

Green spaces are reclaimed.

Neglected public spaces are activated.

Local economies are given a boost.

Communities are safer.

Social and economic barriers are broken.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Right to the City

Location: International


Through shared principles and a common frame and theory of change, RTTC is building a national movement for racial justice, urban justice, human rights, and democracy. RTTC seeks to create regional and national impacts in the fields of housing, human rights, urban land, community development, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental justice, and more.

Right to the City was born out of desire and need by organizers and allies around the country to have a stronger movement for urban justice. But it was also born out of the power of an idea of a new kind of urban politics that asserts that everyone, particularly the disenfranchised, not only has a right to the city, but as inhabitants, have a right to shape it, design it, and operationalize an urban human rights agenda.

In the realm of ideas, a key resource and touchstone is “Le droite à la ville” (Right to the City) a book published in 1968 by French intellectual and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. In the sphere of human rights, this powerful idea was adopted by the World Urban Forum and elaborated into the World Charter of the Right to the City in 2004. Building from this powerful idea, international principles, and forward-looking grassroots organizing, the Right to the City Alliance was established in January 2007.


Land for People vs. Land for Speculation:

The right to land and housing that is free from market speculation and that serves the interests of community building, sustainable economies, and cultural and political space.

Land Ownership:

The right to permanent ownership of urban territories for public use.

Economic Justice:

The right of working class communities of color, women, queer and transgender people to an economy that serves their interests.

Indigenous Justice:

The right of First Nation indigenous people to their ancestral lands that have historical or spiritual significance, regardless of state borders and urban or rural settings.

Environmental Justice:

The right to sustainable and healthy neighborhoods, workplaces, healing, quality health care, and reparations for the legacy of toxic abuses such as brown fields, cancer clusters, and superfund sites.

Freedom from Police State Harassment:

The right to safe neighborhoods and protection from police, INS/ICE, and vigilante repression, which has historically targeted communities of color, women, queer and transgender people.
Immigrant Justice:

The right of equal access to housing, employment, and public services regardless of race, ethnicity, and immigration status and without the threat of deportation by landlords, ICE, or employers.

Services and Community Institutions:

The right of working class communities of color to transportation, infrastructure and services that reflect and support their cultural and social integrity.

Democracy and Participation:

The right of community control and decision making over the planning and governance of the cities where we live and work, with full transparency and accountability, including the right to public information without interrogation.


The right of working class communities of color to economic reciprocity and restoration from all local, nation and transnational institutions that have exploited and/or displaced the local economy.

The right to support and build solidarity between cities across national boundaries, without state intervention.

The right of rural people to economically healthy and stable communities that are protected from environmental degradation and economic pressures that force migration to urban areas.