A Note of Gratitude from BBPDX Board Chair Mara Zepeda


Dear Friends of BBPDX,

As I sit here at 10pm abuzz with the energy from the Summer Social, I wanted to take a moment to jot down a reflection, and to share my gratitude for you all.

To the left is a photo of David and his parents Vanessa and Omar Salomon, who own Xocotol. They provided the vibrant, refreshing fruit this evening. As we were wrapping up the event up my husband Andrew and I introduced ourselves to David, who was sitting on a park bench playing a video game and waiting for his family to pack up.

“I like your accent,” David said to Andrew, after no more than a minute of conversation. We both laughed, surprised. “Where do you think I’m from?” Andrew asked. “Hmmm...Australia?” David guessed. “Try again,” said Andrew. “Oh. I’ve got it. New England.”

Andrew, a Massachusetts native, picked his jaw off the ground and gave David a high five. “What languages do you speak?” we asked. “I speak Spanish. And I really want to learn French.”

David represents the foundational principles of this organization, and everything that I hope for as we grow together. A gifted and astute listener, David was able to literally hear where we were coming from. We, in turn, were moved to inquire about and listen to his perspective. I believe that all of you, and everyone who attended this evening, aspires to embody these qualities as well: curiosity, care, compassion, and a wish to close the divide between us by sharing our lived experience and unique truth. We get there by wanting to know where everyone, no matter who they are, is coming from. And then listening deeply.

Every one of you, as helpers and listeners, has contributed to catalyzing and creating space for countless sparks like this one. They range across ages, races, political parties and sectors. These sparks have become a beacon in our community. Here’s to bringing this radiance to further corners, and spreading this spirit of collaboration, cooperation and common cause.

Mara Zepeda
Founding Board Chair, Business for a Better Portland