PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources) is a women led, people of color grassroots social justice organization formed in 1991 to increase the participation of residents of East Austin in decisions related to the economic development and environmental protection of our communities. Our mission is to redefine environmental issues as social and economic justice issues, and collectively set our own agenda to address these concerns as basic human rights. We seek to empower our communities through education, advocacy and action.
PODER, People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources, was formed to increase East Austin residents’ participation in corporate and government decisions related to economic development, environmental hazards, and the impact on our East Austin neighborhoods. PODER was formed by a group of Chicana/o East Austin activists and community leaders after participating 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 Montopolis, 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 an organization to address the social, economic, and environmental impacts on East Austin’s communities of color.
Co-founder of PODER Susana Almanza attended the First People of Color Conference in 1991 and worked alongside other POC leaders to write the 17 Principles of EJ which are the founding values and document for environmental justice movement in the United States.
History of East Austin
In 1928, the City of Austin’s Master Plan designated East Austin as the area where all industries, African Americans and Mexican American communities would relocate and reside. Prior to that, there were African American and Mexican American communities throughout Austin. Like many cities in the United States Austin is extremely segregated, with the East Side redlined and bearing the consequences of environmental racism. Environmental racism is a term used to describe the placement of polluting industries in communities of color leading to severe health issues and death. Although Austin has an image of a progressive city, poor race relations are at the heart of many issues.
Board of Directors
Janie Rangel - Chair , represents the Gardens Neighborhood Association
Bertha Williams - Chair of the Stuart Circle Neighborhood Association
Gilberto Rivera - Chair of Rosewood Neighborhood Association
Corazon Rentería - Chair of the Vargas Neighborhood Association
Pete Rivera - Chair of the Springdale-Airport Neighborhood Association
Librado Almanza - Chair of the Larch Terrace Neighborhood Association
Susana Almanza - Represents PODER as director of the organization