Op-Ed: Reaching Puerto Ricans everywhere with a ‘parranda’
Parranda.org, a nonprofit created to help unite the “Greater Puerto Rico” — the 4.6 million in the states, an unknown number living in foreign countries, and the 3.7 million that remain in Puerto Rico — held a summit last week in which nearly 100 attendees from all walks of life produced a myriad of ideas to improve Puerto Rico, its economy and its collective life.
After entertaining and inspired opening remarks by José Massó, Massport’s community relations director and a revered community leader in Boston, attendees then began to organize the blank slate of this self-described open events, setting the agenda and dividing up into five or six groups that would attempt to discuss as many ideas as humanly possible and begin to reach consensus on some of the ideas.
Evertec’s Manny Morales, the keynoter at lunch, then energized afternoon session attendees to turn the morning session ideas into actionable items in parranda.org’s future.
During 39 years in public life and a few months in the private sector and academia, I’d never seen a plan to focus on all Puerto Ricans, on the mainland, Puerto Rico and countries throughout the hemisphere or the world, develop as quickly and effectively as parranda.org appears to be doing, and rarely have I seen such an eclectic group of Puerto Ricans propose so many ideas as were floated at the summit. Puerto Rican students from Wharton, MIT, UPR, everywhere!
Puerto Rican entrepreneurs based in México, Colombia and other foreign locales, local entrepreneurs yearning to invade other markets, social activists from New York, Boston and Puerto Rico, have come together and recognized that through electronic networking and face-to-face meetings such as last week’s, Puerto Ricans can progress and excel much more than they have up to now.
Each participant brought their own skills and ideas, many of which they can’t develop on their own. I, while registering, in fact quipped that I could play the “güiro” at the “parranda!”
Magically, fulfilling its own description of the summit as an opportunity to “learn from one another and align with one another,” parranda.org made us realize in a matter of hours that we brought more to the table than even each of us realized, and that, in a concerted effort and with the momentum that developed that day, many of the ideas could become a reality.
Just as in a real “parranda,” with “guiros,” “maracas,” and “guitarras” all aligned with one another, we could turn individual sounds into music, to the benefit of our economy, our image and of Puerto Ricans everywhere!
This “parranda” has promise to become a full-fledged orchestra by the time Christmastime fills the streets of Puerto Rico with traditional parranderos, and I’m glad to have been invited to be a part of this emerging worldwide effort.