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.