PODER

A grassroots, environmental justice organization based in San Francisco’s Mission District

History

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Our History

People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER) was born out of environmental justice and other community movements in 1991. Since then, we have worked to improve the health and the lives of Latino immigrants and other low-income families of color in San Francisco’s Mission and Excelsior districts and other neighborhoods. We focus on land use and community planning, affordable housing, and fostering local living economies in order to nurture healthy, thriving neighborhoods. Below are just a few of our accomplishments over the years.

Timeline

Healthy, Stable Neighborhoods

  • 1993—Helped pass a comprehensive Environmental Lead Poisoning prevention law and program for City and County of San Francisco.
  • 2014—In collaboration with other organizations, secured the unanimous adoption by the Board of Supervisors of the Unclaimed Bicycle Ordinance. The ordinance formalizes a partnership between the Police Department and other city departments with community-based organizations for the organizations to receive, repair and distribute unclaimed bikes to low-income youth and families throughout San Francisco.

Public Land in People’s Hands

  • Late 1990s—Helped secure permits for affordable, non-profit housing at Juan Pifarre Plaza, at 21st Street and South Van Ness Avenue.
  • Early 2000s—Organized for the creation of Parque Niños Unidos, a new park and playground, on formerly privately owned land at 23rd and Folsom Streets.
  • 2015—Current efforts include campaigns to build a new park and urban garden at 17th and Folsom Streets and a new urban farm at Crocker Amazon Park as well as affordable housing near the Balboa Park BART station Upper Yard and at two Mission District locations.

Fighting for Our Right to the City

  • Early 2000s—The Shotwell Resistance Campaign successfully stopped the eviction of Latino families on Shotwell Street in the Mission. We also prevented the closure of Nuevo Ramize, a flower shop owned by a local immigrant woman. We also worked with the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition to organize against the wave of Mission gentrification during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • 2004— Worked with the Chinese Progressive Association to shut down the proposed expansion of a gas station in the Excelsior that would have doubled the amount of carcinogenic chemicals in the neighborhood.
  • 2011—Convinced the Public Utilities Commission to turn over a site at 17th and Mission Streets to the Mayor’s Office of Housing for the development of urgently needed affordable Housing. Part of the site has also been turned over to the Parks and Recreation Department for the development of open space.

¡Pa’ Mi Comunidad Latina: Yo Voy a Votar!

  • Mid 1990s— Defeated the City’s proposed youth curfew ballot measure working the Youth Uprising Coalition.
  • 2000s—Worked with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and the California Alliance (now California Calls) to engage immigrant and low-income communities.
  • 2010—Helped launch San Francisco Rising, an alliance of nine organizations, to build the political power of poor and working class people of color in San Francisco. In just a few years, San Francisco Rising has shifted City Hall politics and the progressive political landscape.

Caminos al Liderazgo

  • 1998—Launched Common Roots: Youth Organizer Program along with the Chinese Progressive Association.
  • 2010—Initiated the Caminos al Liderazgo (Paths to Leadership) model of intergenerational leadership development.

Creating Community, (re)Generating Culture

  • Ongoing—We celebrate Latin American cultural traditions and celebrate our victories and contributions. We celebrate el Dia de los Muertos at the Secret Garden in the Mission District, hold neighborhood convivios, or skill shares, which provide opportunities to learn cooking, crafts and traditional healing techniques.