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El Paso

    EPISO (EL PASO INTERRELIGIOUS SPONSORING ORGANIZATION) is all the people who participate from all the church communities. The church out in Ft. Hancock has representatives to the executive committee from that church. We participate as an organization in the effort to stop the low level nuclear waste disposal site from being built there. They take the lead as the church that is there near the site. As an organization, we never go in to help unless the people ask us in. We then bring our efforts toward organizing and toward putting a strategy to be used.
      We don’t participate by throwing money at a problem. We participate by testifying at public hearings; by putting together meetings to explain to the people what has happened; by bringing the elected officials or decision makers before the people to present what they need to say. Perhaps even more importantly at the local level, we are involved with the political process by holding accountability sessions when people are up for re-election. By getting them to say how they feel about an issue and have that part of
the public record, later on when they get elected, if elected, they fall back or change positions, we can always go back and hold them accountable. Even though we cannot force them to honor their word, it is a public embarrassment for them to be sited for not doing what they promised to do.
      We are nonpartisan, in that we work within the political system without supporting candidates or parties. We do voter registration and get-out-to-vote efforts prior to important elections around issues that especially affect our membership. The newspapers and the media recognize that EPISO is an organization that takes tough stands on a number of issues. And we are a force to be reckoned with because we represent such a cross section of the community, albeit most of it in this town, Hispanic and poor, and from churches south of the freeway. More and more people are beginning to recognize that we are the only organization willing to take on these very tough questions about quality of life issues.