In the tumult of activities this Fall — client projects, our work for the DNC, and the launch of our San Francisco and DC offices — SocialxDesign has been quiet about a project in the non-profit arena we have been supporting for some time.  It launched just last week, but already it is getting some buzz. The project, Parranda — the work of eighteen entrepreneurs, scientists, and business leaders — is an online/offline social network aimed at powering the Puerto Rican diaspora.  Many of you, I am sure, are aware of the following, but just in case:

–Puerto Rico is undergoing a massive migration of its middle-class to the mainland US.  It’s created a brain drain from an island that cannot afford it.

–Puerto Rican citizens in the US recently surprised politicians — and marketers — with their voting power in the new places they occupy in the mainland US (e.g., Central Florida).

–Recent events in Puerto Rico — including the plebiscite on the status of the island, and the Arab Spring-like reaction on social networks to the recent spike in violence — make this a particularly important time to look at projects that aim to pull people together, on and off the island.

A beta version of the network goes live on Christmas Eve.  In the meantime, it’s important to share our perspective on the potential impact of the Parranda concept on the market we serve.  Beyond the personal satisfaction it brings me to be part of this effort, the idea of supporting a diaspora with social tech helps demonstrate the power of social engagement in the new global, socially networked economy:

the power of transnational communications

the power of public/private partnerships

a new approach to multicultural communications in an age where “nations are not defined by their borders, but by their people, wherever they happen to live” (from the Parranda mission statement)

If any of this sounds interesting, please let us know.  We’ll be busy this Christmas (what’s new?), but it won’t all be work.  Parranda is named after a Christmas tradition where people roam their neighborhoods, knock on doors, and drag their neighbors to come with them (bringing beverages and food for the journey).  Puerto Ricans LOVE Christmas — the holiday ends in late January :) — and their uniquely social approach to the holiday is both meaningful and joyous.  As the islanders say when they knock on your door, annoucing the parranda, ¡Asalto!  You’ve been Parranda’d.  And you don’t need to be a Puerto Rican to enjoy.

Early coverage of the Parranda project: