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Sylvia Herrera

Austin | Community Organizer, Activist

Ms. Herrera is an Austin-based community organizer, activist, and co-founder (with Susana Almanza) and health coordinator of PODER, People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources. She has worked to protect her east Austin neighborhood from hazardous industrial developments, including a tank farm, waste-recycling facility, a metalwork and casting plant, chip fabrication factory, and power plant. She has used her health training to survey her neighbors, identify health problems and possible causes, and empower citizens to speak out at public meetings to protect their community’s health and livelihoods. Throughout, she has worked to change the underlying segregationist zoning, dating back to 1931, which had allowed and encouraged many of these incompatible facilities to be sited in her residential neighborhood. Most recently, Ms. Herrera and PODER have sought to protect the integrity of east Austin from the gentrification that has come from the City’s smart growth initiatives, and ironically, from their very success in protecting and improving the neighborhood.

Interview Information

October 16, 2003
Austin, Texas
Reel 2259

Excerpted Videos

Excerpt 1

Full Videos

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Rich Media

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