SAN JUAN, PR and MIAMI, FL and SILICON VALLEY, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 13, 2012) - A new social network dubbed "Parranda" -- the name of a popular Puerto Rican Christmas tradition -- is hoping to gather Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the world to "remap, remake, and remobilize the Greater Puerto Rico."
Founded by eighteen Puerto Rican entrepreneurs, scientists, and business leaders -- from San Juan to Silicon Valley -- Parranda will launch a beta version this Christmas of an online network with an initial focus on constructing a digital map of where all Puerto Ricans live. Later projects will include an online mentoring program, a crowd-funding capability, and a broad range of applications that serve the economic, civic, and cultural development of the island and its people.
Reimagining "The Boricua Winter"
A confluence of events has demonstrated the need, desire, and utility for a Puerto Rican diaspora network.
First, there is the continuing flight of Puerto Rican professionals to the US and other countries, which has created a persistent brain drain from the Puerto Rican economy. Second, there was the recent demonstration of political power both on the mainland and on the archipelago. The strength of the Puerto Rican vote in Florida for the 2012 election was surprising to many. And a recent plebiscite was the first time Puerto Ricans voted in a majority to reject Puerto Rico's current political status.
Finally, there's the recent wave of social networking activity following a recent spike in the violent crime rate in Puerto Rico, a problem recognized as one of the chief causes of migration to the US. A journalist recently labeled the online reaction to violence in Puerto Rico as "the Boricua Winter," drawing a comparison to the Arab Spring.
"When we say 'a Greater Puerto Rico,' we are referring, of course, to two things," said Giovanni Rodriguez, co-founder of Parranda and CEO of SocialxDesign, a strategic consulting firm with offices in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC. "First, there's the reality that Puerto Rican influence is extending beyond the borders of the archipelago. There are more Puerto Ricans living in the US today than in Puerto Rico. Second there's the idea that Puerto Ricans everywhere -- no matter where they make their home -- can improve conditions in their homeland. The time is right for the launch of a platform like Parranda, which aims to bring Puerto Ricans together for a number of projects designed for large-scale social impact."
Parranda's first focus on mapping the Greater Puerto Rico -- via a simple web application -- is both practical and strategic for its longer-term goals.
"Puerto Ricans will be both surprised and energized to see where they are today, and the mapping project will enlist all Puerto Ricans to both make the map and telling others to help make it," said Marcos Polanco, co-founder and COO of iCare Medical Inc., a startup based in San Juan. "And once the map is well lit, it will help Parranda to execute on its larger ambitions in mentoring, funding, and support for social and commercial entrepreneurship."
Power in Unity
The Parranda name was inspired by a Christmas-season known throughout Latin-America but mostly associated with Puerto Rico. Holiday revelers go door-to-door throughout their neighborhoods, gathering people to join them, knock on other doors, and gather more people.
"We see it as the perfect metaphor for what we are trying to do -- knocking on the virtual doors of all Puerto Ricans, and asking them to join us. Plus, the Parranda concept is joyous. Yes, it will help us tackle some of our toughest challenges. But the act of coming together in itself will be part of the appeal."
The mapping project launches along with the beta site of the Parranda network on Christmas Eve. But people can sign up for early registration by visiting parranda.org today. They can also let organizers know if they want to support the project, individually or as a sponsor.
"In the end, Parranda is a product of its people, and we see many ways for corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations to join and support," said Polanco.
Parranda.org is a project devoted to the economic, civic, and cultural development of a "Greater Puerto Rico." By providing a virtual platform for mass collaboration, Parranda enables people on and off the island (the Puerto Rican diaspora) to work with one another on meaningful and measurable initiatives. We're launching just before Christmas this year. To sign up for early registration, or to explore ways to support the project, please visit us at www.parranda.org. You can also join the "parranda" on our social networks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ParrandaPuertoRico and on Twitter @ParrandaPR.