Are you a Vallartense?
Up until a few months ago I struggled with how to answer the question where are you from? It sounds like a silly question to fumble with; except for a lot of us, it is part of what defines our identity. I was born in Mexico City and moved to Puerto Vallarta with my family when I was five. Even at the end of high school, having lived in this beautiful city three quarters of my life, I was more likely to say I was Chilanga than that I was a Vallartense.
A few months ago, I began working for the Banderas Bay Initiative, a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the natural and cultural resources of the region. Engaging with the community, working alongside people who are offering up their time, energy and money for the betterment of this bay, and hearing and reading every day about the amazing wealth this city offers us has made Vallarta a larger part of my identity and the word Vallartense spring more fluidly to my lips when asked where I am from.
A local, a Vallartense, a Pata Salada isn’t defined by where they were born but by their love and engagement to the Banderas Bay. Puerto Vallarta is blessed in more ways than one. Its natural beauty and resources are enough to leave you breathless. The deep green of the mountains after a good rainstorm, the chance sighting of a manta ray leaping out of the water, the sunsets that all seem to be once-in-a-lifetime are enough to keep us coming back. Its local ethnic groups, traditions and history link us to its past and our own. Vallarta is also blessed in a third way which is often overlooked. It is blessed by the people who make up its communities.
Although much is said about the government’s inaction and the population’s apathy, Vallarta has a thriving civil sector. Formally and informally organized groups work arduously to keep the region healthy and strong. Whether it is a group of birders who put on a festival, a bar which launches a litter clean-up brigade, a group of mothers starting a special-needs day care center, or a school which launches a reading advocacy program for the larger community, people throughout the region are taking action. I’m sure as you read these examples many more come to mind.
It’s hard to categorize who takes action and participates in these endeavors. You will find retirees and high-school students, born and raised locals and first-time visitors, Spanish and English speakers. They are working on beautification, social assistance, ecology, art, special needs, conservation, dance and education. And they are all in a way locals, Pata Saladas, Vallartenses. Because being a citizen isn’t limited to what your IFE or your passport say. It is an action and a choice we make every day we continue to live and visit the shores of Banderas Bay. It isn’t only our rights, but our responsibilities as members of a community which must work together to create a bright future for all of us.
There are many volunteer opportunities, in all manner of organizations, and you can definitely find a way to get involved. To look at volunteer opportunities with the Banderas Bay Initiative please visit www.bbini.org/volunteer.html or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out about other organizations and volunteer opportunities at www.pvangels.com
Work with members of our team to carry out fundraising events and strategies. Having the resources to carry out our programs is evidently vital to creating the changes we want to see. Work with a small, highly motivated team and meet some fantastic people. We need your help.
If you have experience coding in HTML and want to keep your skills sharp while helping out a worthwhile cause this position is for you!
In addition to routine updates we want your help in developing an Online Library. It will compile freely-available resources as well as BBI –produced material in one place. We hope this makes the information more easily accessible and promotes discussion and action.
Work with members of our program development team to propose effective, results-oriented programs. Once it’s developed, help us put it into action and become a Program Leader. The Banderas Bay Initiative is growing really quickly and we can always use a helping hand. Work on education, promotion or conservation programs with an environmental or cultural focus.
Do you have a writing background or simply enjoy writing? It is vital to our continued progress that we keep our readers up to date on the work we are doing. Help us write articles for our newsletter and website to ensure our work is known beyond our office.
The BBI also hopes to increase awareness on environmental and cultural issues which we aren’t yet working on. Help us write informative articles about the various issues which are relevant to the Banderas Bay.
By Maria Zamora
by F. McCann