Our mission is redefining environmental issues as social and economic justice issues, and collectively setting our own agenda to address these concerns as basic human rights. We seek to empower our communities through education, advocacy and action. Our aim is to increase the participation of communities of color in corporate and government decision making related to toxic pollution, economic development and their impact on our neighborhoods.

PODER was formed to increase Austin’s residents’ participation in corporate and government decisions related to economic development, environmental hazards and the impact on our neighborhoods. PODER was formed by a group of Chicana/o East Austin activists and community leaders after participation in a national meeting with SEMATECH in May 1991. SEMATECH is a non-profit research consortium funded by the federal government and several of the largest U.S.- owned semi-conductor manufacturers in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. As a result of this meeting, and our interest in issues affecting our community, several of the local participants realized the need to form and organize to address the social, economic and environmental impacts of such industries and the potential health hazards on East Austin’s communities of color.

Historically, communities of color, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans, have been disproportionately affected by toxic contamination. At the same time, our communities have not benefited equitably from these industries. As we look into our own backyard, we see a power plant, fuel storage tank farms, refineries, lumber companies, and most recently, high tech industries which emit their pollutants into the air we breath, the water we drink and the earth that sustains us. We believe a safe and healthy environment is a fundamental right.

In this period of Globalization, there is a need to redefine national and international goals with a broader vision, a vision which honors the sacredness of human life and the environment. We must, therefore, work to create a safe and healthy environment within our own communities and support the efforts of others to do so in communities around the country and the world. Only then can we restore global environmental harmony.

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