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The following release was just published today and I say, “Fantástico.” It is time for Puerto Ricans to stand up, get connected, and work together for a greater Puerto Rico. You can give Parranda Puerto Rico a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

libreflag

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.

About Parranda

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 atwww.parranda.org. You can also join the “parranda” on our social networks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ParrandaPuertoRico and on Twitter@ParrandaPR.

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I am excited.

For this very simple reason: @gopalo (non Twitter name is PALO!), one of the first bands to embrace #LATISM, will be in Boston this weekend, playing at Ryles in Inman Sqaure. This very talented and unique group from Miami is starting to make national appearances, and I can’t wait to be there. I had a chance this week to speak with Palo! member Steve Roitsein, and we talked about how social media is the perfect forum to promote a band’s music.

PALO!

 

PALO! has become a favorite among South Florida’s live music devotees. The group plays a style of extremely danceable music they call “Afro-Cuban Funk”. Their appeal lies in their unmatched musical energy, catchy original songs, and amazing display of impromptu virtuosity. A mix of Latin and Urban sounds gives PALO! their unique, infectious style.

JRV: Why social media?
STEVE: All of the members of PALO! are very sociable and friendly. I represent PALO! on Twitter and Facebook but we all like to communicate with our friends and fans. Facebook and Twitter make that very convenient.

JRV: Has social media helped increase your audience?
STEVE: Definitely. Sometimes people will look on Facebook and see that their friends like PALO! so this helps them discover us. Often, a Twitter conversation about another topic, like Cuban food, for instance (one of my favorite subjects) will lead people to find out more about who they’re Tweeting with. Then they’ll click on the profile @gopalo and then Our PALO! site where they hear the music. Usually this gets a positive response, like “Wow, that’s amazing music!” They often follow this up by finding out where we’re performing or wanting to buy our music.

JRV: Palo! is unofficial band of Latinos in Social Media. How has LATISM helped your band’s promotion?
STEVE: LATISM has introduced me to all kinds of wonderful people. Since many people on LATISM speak Spanish, they can appreciate PALO!’s lyrics. Also, many are bi-cultural and like our blend of Funk beats with Afro-Cuban sounds. People on the LATISM chats seem to be open to networking; we’ve even obtained gigs from chatting on LATISM! Thanks, Julio!

JRV: You are starting to play in venues far away from Miami. Why do you think that is so?
STEVE: It seems like our music appeals to many different people; PALO! has fans all over the world. Just look at PALO on Facebook and you’ll see. I think the recent increase in shows outside of South Florida is just due to venues and promoters becoming aware of us and wanting to invite us to perform. Social Media has certainly helped in creating this awareness.

JRV: How is 2011 looking like for the band?
STEVE: As our conga player Philbert would say, “¡Como los dioses!” In 2011, we hope to continue to perform for our friends in other cities and countries, and keep on funkin’ up South Florida as always. We’re currently working on our second album, which we hope to release this year as well. Stay in touch: it’s gonna be slammin’!!!

Want to see Palo! in Boston? Buy your tickets ($10 each) here: BUY PALO! TICKETS.

Still not convinced? Listen to one of PALO!’s songs right on their site!

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