MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

Mujeres de la Tierra

I grew up in poverty in East Austin, the segregated part of Austin, Texas, that in some parts rivaled unlivable conditions. Both my parents were not formally educated. My parents only spoke Spanish, and I could see that they were being treated as second-class citizens. I experienced cultural prejudice; because of the part of town in which I lived I had to attend segregated schools. I saw firsthand the poverty and the economic inequity.

As I started attending an integrated school during my high school years, I saw the differences in the schooling that I and others received in the segregated schools. I saw the educational inequality. It is the total of all these life experiences at an early age--cultural, educational, social, and economic injustices--which have motivated me to be a community activist.

I was blessed to have parents that respected our Mother Earth and understood that massaging her soil would give rise to food that would sustain us. Who recognized the healing properties of Mother Earth's plants and flowers. We had our personal alter and vela (candle) and spiritual connections to the universe.

We are a reflection of our Earth Mother. From her womb she gives life to all creation. As women we hold the seeds of life within our womb. The waters are her blood stream that nourishes nature-kind and human-kind. Our bodies are made of water that nourishes us. The air that she creates is the life she breathes in us. Our Father Sun radiates the energy of life for all humanity.

There was a time when we were all sisters and brothers, the earth our mother, the sun our father, our parents, our leaders, and justice their guide. These are the indigenous principles that we follow today.

There is a great injustice occurring against humanity and nature. We've seen the deterioration of our natural resources, the poisoning of our communities, all in the name of profits and corporate greed.

As Chicanas/os we realized the need to form an organization to address the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts on East Austin's communities of color. PODER was founded in May 1991. Throughout a decade of activism, PODER has been involved in numerous dynamic campaigns, programs and projects, generating publicity locally as well as throughout the state and the world. One of the organization's proudest achievements was the 1991-93 east Austin Tank Farm Campaign, in which residents of a predominately African American and Latino neighborhood were being exposed to toxic pollutants, and who successfully obtained an agreement to relocate the gasoline storage facilities of Mobil Oil Company, Texaco, Chevron, Coastal States Crude Gather Company, Citgo Petroleum Corporation and Exxon--some of the world's largest transnational-billion dollar corporations.

In the year 2002 PODER changed its anniversary date from May 1st to April 22nd. April 22nd, 2002 marked the 31st Anniversary of Earth Day in the United States and PODER's11th Anniversary as an organization/family. PODER held a press conference announcing that it was reclaiming Earth Day by honoring Mother Earth through our traditional ways, by giving thanks to the sun, wind, water and earth which sustain all living creatures.

PODER saw that Mother Earth Day was being commercialized, and even worse, it was being sponsored by corporate polluters. That day, the news carried the headlines, "PODER Reclaims Earth Day by returning to the indigenous ways of honoring Mother Earth through prayer, danza, song, and poetry." Everyone attending the celebration was blessed and received the sacred corn of the four directions. There was a sharing of food.

This year, PODER celebrated its 13th Sacred Anniversary on Mother Earth Day, continuing its traditional ways of honoring our Mother Earth.

— Susana Renteria Almanza

For Additional information contact:
P.O. Box 6237
Austin, TX 78762-6237
(512) 472-9921
fax: (512) 472-9922
email: poder_tx@sbcglobal.net

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"Una cosa es vestir y alimentar a nuestras hijas, sin embargo lo esencial es enseñarles que otras personas — fuera de ellas mismas — son tambien importantes. Lo mejor que pueden hacer con sus vidas es dedicarlas al servicio de los demás."

"Giving kids clothes and food is one thing, but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people."

--Dolores Huerta

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