I’m back from Oaxaca, and am very happy to be a part of the México Today team. I thought I’d give you a rundown of the project.
The group consists of 24 writers – 8 Community Managers and 16 Contributors. I’ve made a page with links to all the participants’ websites if you’d like to see who we all are and visit our sites. It is a very diverse group – from professional food or travel writers, bloggers with focuses from bicultural and bilingual families, to adventure travelers and personal bloggers. The idea behind having a group of American and Canadian bloggers writing about México is that people listen more readily to people from their own background. Of the 24 writers, 11 live in México. Most of the group speaks Spanish, some at native level, and some more basic. The one common denominator, though, is that we all love México.
At this time the México Today program is funded by the Méxican government. The Executive Director, Jaime Diaz, told us that the group was started in October 2010 as a strategic plan for the Mexican Reputation Program. The idea being to build a bridge between the reality and the perception of México in the US and Canada at the onset, and other countries in the future. The core group is working to get the project running and then hopefully to transform it into a foundation so that funding won’t be subject to the political cycle.
We are all aware about the challenges facing México with regard to the drug war. Those of us who live here in particular know what it’s like when the first thing people say to us when they hear we live in México is “but are you safe?” I know we are all tired of defending México, especially against alarmist State Department memos and barely-researched news reports. In my opinion it is going to take a real concerted (and by that I mean US, Canada, and Mexico working together) effort to make inroads against the drug cartels. I hope that can happen, but in whatever scenario we think of, change will not happen overnight. In the meantime, there is a huge, wonderful country that is peaceful and so worth exploring.
I’ve agreed to write two articles per month. They are fully my thoughts, experiences, and ideas. No one is censoring me. The México Today project wants to rev up the amount being written about México. Hopefully people will join the conversation – commenting on posts, sharing on social media sites, and in general gathering together people who really care about México and want the best for her in the future.
I’ll try to keep you up to date on things that you’ll want to watch out for. For example, the opening of Peter Greenberg’s Royal Tour – Mexico – a film profiling Felipe Calderon – will premiere on September 20 in New York and on September 21 in Los Angeles. If you live in LA or NY, please go! We saw the trailer for the film, and it is going to be fantastic. The crew spent two weeks here filming – you’ll see awesome footage of México and learn a lot about México’s president, too.
I know that every country faces hundreds of challenges. If you look at the whole picture it can feel overwhelming – but chunk it up into bite sized pieces and it’s possible to work and make visible progress. That’s how I look at this project – that it’s addressing something that has become more human-sized to me, and something I can actually help with.
Just because I might not actually be able to write a post without a picture or a video… Above is a picture of one of Jacobo Angeles´s alebrije (story tomorrow), and below is a video of the Calenda on Saturday night. Basically it is a street party with tequila, strange clown-y guys with carrot noses, huge paper mache puppets (monigotes), giant fireworks (castilla), etc. It was so much fun – we left from our hotel and made our way to Casa Oaxaca, where we were having dinner. The video really transmits the fun and craziness of the evening. I would say that a hundred or more Oacacans accompanied all of us on the Mexico Today street party!