Great ideas often languish, partly because of a lack of courage to pursue them, skills to implement them, or resources to make them concrete.  The seed of this project began years ago and has manifested itself in a variety of forms. Three years ago, it took root as collection of ancestral stories and photographs of Puerto Rico. Since then, it has shape-shifted many times, on one hand, nearly surrendering to seemingly overwhelming obstacles, on the other, bristling to its greatest potential via coaxing and supportive hearts.
Therefore, no matter how great the idea or the skill – there is no “army of one” in projects such as this. As cliché as it sounds, it has been a “field of dreams.” I think that sums up the combination of sponsors, volunteers, interns and supporters, writers and artists who appeared at just the right moment with just the right skill, ideas, or perfect resources.


Most of them students of mine who stepped into unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable realms of family stories and who willingly and enthusiastically bore the sometimes tragic revelations with great dignity. They also dived into creative writing craft, which for some of those who are engineers, mathematicians and scientists, is as foreign as cave paintings.  And of course – there is the fact that they wrote – created these wonderful snapshots of Puerto Rican culture and history in a second language. Not always an easy feat.  The results were often hard won.
Thank you also to all the gallery contributors for sharing your inspiring art – especially to an amazing photographer who has just gone public with his wonderful, engaging and unique images, José Irízarry.


An intelligent, talented, hardworking crew of students who are also writers – artists – filmmakers – photographers. They are the Puerto Rico of tomorrow: René – steadfast – loyal, Joel – passionate, José – dogged – funny, Yamil – analytical scientist, Mara – the heart, Melissa – dreamer, Emmanuel – the actor, and Alejandro –the visionary. Many of them started this project with me long before there was any inkling of success and struggled alongside me with little reward, working around their demanding schedules. So many times I felt like Dorothy lost in OZ as far as inventory, html and audio-video editing. It makes me happy that the project has finally been actualized and in turn will give them something concrete to herald them on to their own next successes.


Goes to our web-wizard-computer-science-genius, who survived training us in the sacred arts of WordPress and html –especially those of us untrainables with two left thumbs– with great patience and without complaint, Alan López García. This project would simply have gone the way of pipe dreams past without you.


Maruja Toledo for her friendship, editing and support – she enthusiastically joined this project over three years ago; José Colon Vega who spent three semesters buried in inventory – sorting, logging, filing; Mara Delgado who spent an entire summer reading all the manuscripts, writing critiques and organizing them; and the Department of English student organization, Love of Writing, Arts & Creativity, LOWAC, its visionary president, René Rodríguez Astacio, and members who attended workshops and were actively involved in the initial grounding of the project; Zoraida Ortiz, a talented nature artist, writer and illustrator for the amazing logo image; Francisco Aguilar – graphic designer for the final logo and who lent his assistance to the digital magazine creations; Stella Ramirez for her editing skills; José Irizarry for the loan of his amazing images that have come to define this project visually; Alejandra Rentas who has always been the best roadie ever – jumping in to help wherever needed; and Rosa Roman for editing and cheering us on.


Make the world go-‘round. Sea Grant of Puerto Rico – Dr. Ruperto Chapparo and Cristina Olán –Doctoral candidate and editor of Sea Grant’s journal, Marejeda. Both lived their philosophy of commitment, not just to Puerto Rico’s beaches and seas but also to its community. They kept this project moving forward with the loan of Dr. Delmis Alicea who guided us in blog building and Alan López, the web designer. Sea Grant was also instrumental in convincing me to abandon my original vision of paper and ink and switch to digital. What an amazing shift from the limitations of the printed book to the limitless canvas of cyberspace. They were right on!
Also, the Department of English, Dr. Kevin Carroll, Interim Director, who scraped the barrel to redistribute meager department resources in order to give us space, equipment, materials as well as found ways to formalize the project by approving graduate independent study and undergraduate/graduate internship classes. Gracias Kevin for your keen sense of fairness and balance.
You can never create something without invoking MENTORS, GUIDES, TEACHERS who stirred your soupy pot of ideas and brought you to a juncture such as this. Thank you Professor Paul Karabinis for teaching me to see the story in photographs; Jane Ashe, Jonathan Fox, Jo Salas for teaching me how to honor the personal story  – that everyone needs a place to both tell his/her story and someone to hear it; Dr. Nancy Levine for teaching me about double entendre, call and response and how to plug-in to community storytelling; Dr. Cecilia Milánes for introducing me to new forms of non-canonic autobiographical writing with photography; Dr. Bill Lavender for cyberspace and narrative, postmodernism, the writerly text and for coaching me through my first hypertext project; the lecturers of the Czech Culture series in my Prague study abroad program who introduced me to samizdat, and how self publishing can transform not just communities but political systems; Dr. José Irízarry for introducing me to the field of Life Narrative and encouraging my research; Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson for their research and many texts about Life Writing which kindled this project; Dr. Norma Cantú for her inspiring autotopographical works such as Canícula, and her participation in my past publishing project, Mancha…. And Pedro Santalíz, who in the short time I knew him, reminded me that the truth of the stage was not who you became when you stepped on to it, but the authenticity you delivered back to your audience.
Thank you to Stuart Balcomb for publishing my first hypertext memoir; Lenys Alcoreza for publishing Mancha… containing some of the autotopographies which have been reprinted here and a project that continues to give to its community; Rhea Maxwell for our short collaboration that sparked that first step forward.
Thank you to my FAMILY: beautiful and talented, Gloria, for adopting me and giving me her undying love, support and great hugs; my beautiful and talented mom, Olivia, – who taught me how to imagine and create and how to sacrifice and care about others and the world I live in.  And to my son – CD, daughter – Hillary, their spouses – Sean, & Tara, my grandkids – Dakota, Connor, Kiera, Emma, my mom’s loyal partner, Ralph and my beautiful sis, Charisse – you all have kept me going – across thousands of miles of oceans, mountain ranges and valleys.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the Roman family of Moca, Cerro Gordo. Certainly they are the epitome of what this project has been about and represent one of Puerto Rico’s greatest assets, its kind, generous and hardworking people and its fiercely close-knit families. In this case, they stepped in to help a near stranger sort out the logistics of her life so she could focus full attention on this project and bring it into fruition. With all my heart – gracias por todos Lucy & Estéban, Beatríz & Joaquín, Armando, María, Alejandro, Steven but most of all – to the Roman family’s most precioso rocio, – Rose, I salute you.
You were right – I built it and they came….